World's Best Superfoods

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It's dinnertime, and you're craving something with a little flavor. Maybe you'll grab Indian takeout or whip up a taco salad. But, uh-oh, these days it's easy to find yourself biting into the ethnic version of a triple burger and fries. "We've Americanized dishes to the extent that they don't have their original health benefits," says Daphne Miller, MD, author of The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World-Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You. Enjoy global cuisines in their purest state, on the other hand, and you get meals that are light, nutritious, and incredibly yummy.

So we asked experts to rank the 10 healthiest cuisines and reveal what makes them good for you. And to get you cooking authentic ethnic food, we tapped best-selling cookbook author Mark Bittman for his amazing (yet simple!) takes on takeout favorites.

world-superfoods-healthy-takeout world-superfoods-healthy-takeout : Traditional Greek foods like dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega-3-rich fish deliver lots of immune-boosting and cancer-fighting ingredients that cut your risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related ailments. In fact, eating a traditional Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a 25 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, according to Harvard University research. And people lose more weight and feel more satisfied on this type of diet, which is rich in healthy fats, than on a traditional low-fat diet, another Harvard study suggests.

This cuisine also ranks high because of how it's eaten, notes Dr. Miller, one of our judges. "The Greeks often share small plates of food called meze," she says, having just a bite of meat along with low-cal, healthy Greek staples like fresh seafood, slowly digested carbs (beans, eggplant, or whole-grain breads), and small portions of olives and nuts.

If you're eating out, order grilled fish and spinach or other greens sauteed with olive oil and garlic. "This dish gives you the anti-inflammatory combo of olive oil and greens with the blood-pressure-lowering effects of garlic," Dr. Miller says.

Danger zone: Unless you make it yourself and go light on the butter, the classic spinach pie (spanakopita) can be as calorie- and fat-laden as a bacon cheeseburger.

Try this recipe: Mark Bittman's Shrimp la Grecque

Next Page: 2. California Fresh [ pagebreak ]

world-superfoods-healthy-takeout world-superfoods-healthy-takeout and folate, not to mention flavor.

And what should you whip up from your local riches? Chef Annie Somerville at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco serves orrechiette with mushrooms, broccoli rabe, Italian parsley, hot pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, or grilled veggie skewers over quinoa or couscous. But it's a style cooking that great chefs cross the country are embracing. Bittman, who lives in New York City, makes Chard with Blood Oranges and Pistachios.

Danger zone: Relying on high-fat cheese to flavor veggie-based dishes is not a waist-friendly move, Largeman-Roth warns.

Try this recipe: Mark Bittman's Chard with Blood Oranges and Pistachios

Next Page: 3. Vietnamese [ pagebreak ]

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Next Page: 4. Japanese [ pagebreak ]

world-superfoods-healthy-takeout world-superfoods-healthy-takeout ; cruciferous, calcium-rich veggies like bok choy; iodine-rich seaweed (good for your thyroid); omega-3-rich seafood; shiitake mushrooms (a source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate); and whole-soy foods. "The soy that's good for you is unprocessed, not made into fake meat," Dr. Miller says. Think: tofu, edamame, miso, and tempeh, a nutty tasting soybean cake made from fermented soybeans.

Healthy choices the next time you visit a Japanese restaurant? Miso soup, which typically contains seaweed and tofu, or a simple veggie-and-tofu stir-fry.

Danger zone: White rice can cause a spike in blood sugar, so ask for brown rice, rich in fat-burning Resistant Starch (RS).

Try this recipe: Mark Bittman's Rice with Edamame and Sea Greens

Next Page: 5. Indian [ pagebreak ]

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Next Page: 6. Italian [ pagebreak ]

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Next Page: 7. Spanish [ pagebreak ]

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Next Page: 8. Mexican [ pagebreak ]

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Next Page: 9. South American [ pagebreak ]

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Next Page: 10. Thai [ pagebreak ]

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