What if the entire world critiqued your diet? Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing—recent reports have suggested that more than one-third of Americans are overweight. That’s where the new app “The Eatery” comes in: Snap a photo of your food, label it, rate it on a “fit-to-fat” scale, then wait for others around the world to rate it, too.
The new app has brought to light some surprising stats: New Yorkers are big-time coffee drinkers, while the Japanese are big on fish. What else can you learn from diets around the world? Here are five secrets. (Plus, pick up Grill This, Not That! to discover a delicious diet that will change the way you eat forever.)
1. Slow Down
Ever seen a Spanish restaurant packed with people enjoying dinner at 2 a.m.? Sure, Spaniards eat later, but they also eat slower, says Samantha Heller, M.S., registered dietitian. And they’re on to something: Guys who ate fast packed on 4.2 pounds in eight years compared to 1.5 pounds from slower eaters, according to a Japanese study.
2. Make Your Meal Social
Eating together is a daily social occasion in many European countries, says Heller. Read: No chowing down by yourself. Studies have shown that families who eat together are healthier, and a recent review of 68 reports on the subject found that frequent family meals meant a lower body mass index in children.
3. Go Sweet
When it comes to potatoes, that is. The people of the small Okinawa Island are thought to have the longest lives of anyone in the world. Why? Partly because of their diet, says Heller. While they eat plenty of fish and vegetables, a key ingredient seems to be sweet potatoes. They’re packed with the antioxidant glutathione, which is shown to boost the health of your immune system and protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart attacks. (Read 10 More Surprising Sources of Antioxidants.)
4. Buy Smart
The southern Italian Mediterranean diet is famed, but reaping the most benefits starts with choosing the right ingredients. When it comes to fish, go small: sardines and Atlantic mackerel both tend to be richer in omega-3 fatty acids, and lower in contaminants, says Tim Fitzgerald, M.S., marine scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. And not all olive oil is healthy. Stick with oils packaged in dark bottles, since light and heat are olive oil’s enemies. (Find out: Are You Buying Bad Olive Oil?)
5. Add Turmeric
It’s the magic ingredient in most Indian food, says Heller. “Curcumin—a compound in turmeric—is packed with anti-inflammatory and possible anti-carcinogenic properties,” she adds. Your move: Sprinkle half a tablespoon on a fish or chicken dish to add plenty of flavor and big health benefits.