When planning your holidays (destination, flight, hotel, guided tours), fun may be your first concern, but if you think about your health as well, there is just one perfect choice: Italy!
Yes, it seems that Italy is the healthiest country on Earth.
The Bloomberg Global Health Index has graded 163 countries according to variables such as life expectancy, causes of death and health risks ranging from high blood pressure and tobacco use to malnutrition and the availability of clean water.
Italy ranked first, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia.
Our country may be plagued by stagnating growth, high unemployment and excessive debt loads, but a baby born here can expect to live to be an octogenarian, with correct blood pressure and cholesterol and better mental health than in any other country.
But what is our secret? Sunny weather? Relaxed lifestyle? The warm embrace of a traditional Italian mamma? Well, all of the above, probably, but scientists agree that the main key to our good health is food.
Italian cuisine follows the Mediterranean pattern of eating, focused on simple, natural ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, dark leafy greens and whole grains. Research suggests that the benefits of a Mediterranean-style eating include improved weight loss, better control of blood-glucose levels and reduced risk of depression.
After all, every single Italian, from sun-blessed Sicily to mountainous Trentino-Alto Adige (the region with Dolomites mountains) has access to fresh produce, fruit, lean meats and fish.
So, if you aim for a long, healthy life, Italy is definitely the place to be.
And if you consider carbs as the devil, always remember that starches are at the bottom of the food pyramid as one of the largest portion of food you should consume.
Enjoy pasta, a generous glass of wine, and be happy!