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Healthy Food in Malta
It’s amazing to see how much every nation has become obsessed with their health and appearance nowadays. Perhaps because our lives are so publicised and everyone has some form of social media account, we’re constantly inundated with photos and videos of beautiful people. That being said, the decision for the population to make better food choices is definitely not a bad thing!
Benefits of Eating Healthy Food
The Maltese population followed a healthy Mediterranean cuisine (considered to be the healthiest diet in the world!), but with urbanisation and industrialisation, priorities changed. The focus of ‘healthy’ food was lost along the way and with the concept of wanting something quick and easy to grab-and-go, along came McDonald’s, Burger King and ‘pastizzi’ shops (that serve pastries and pies as snacks). Fast-food emerged and started dominating the market, with none of these having many healthy meal options, but they were efficient. Yet today, the mentality on healthy food in Malta has changed significantly, especially with the rise in expats and foreigners who wanted to have better food choices.
There is no doubt that eating healthy has an array of benefits. There are certainly no disadvantages we can think of if we’re talking about health and staving off illness, but there are hundreds of more advantages we can add to the list below, so it’s worth making the effort in our daily lives to make more informed selections.
1. A Happy Heart
In most places, heart disease is a leading cause of death. It has gained more attention in recent years as some studies state that up to 80% of this could be prevented with very simple lifestyle changes by:
Increasing Physical Activity- Whether it’s a walk every day, a yoga class or a game of tennis, there’s no questioning that getting your body moving boosts the metabolism, our moods and our general physical and mental health.
Healthy Eating – Opting for fruits and veg, whole-grains, fish, beans, vegetable oils, nuts, reducing the consumption of red meat and full-fat products, sugary and high-salt food.
2. Mood Booster
There is a bond between food and mood that is still being studied, however, those with a high glycemic load (such as refined carbs, biscuits, cake, white bread and so on) may lead to lower moods. These foods may give you a quick ‘rush’ or ‘sugar high’ that might feel like you have more energy, but when it wears off, can increase symptoms of fatigue or depression. Healthier foods with a lower glycemic load (such as fruit and vegetables, even whole grains) lead to more consistent energy, better moods and happier feelings – so bring on the veggies!
3. Reduced Cancer Risks
Our bodies need free radicals which help prevent the risk of cancer and these can be found in foods which are high in antioxidants. Eating more of the following foods keeps our cells protected:
Dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach etc.)
Berries (especially raspberries and blueberries)
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important to reduce risks of developing certain types of cancers, so be sure to see what a healthy body weight should be for your age and height. Diets that are rich in fruits, fibres and vegetables help prevent cancers of the liver or colon, so these items should be at the top of your shopping list!
4. A Healthy Gut
Our body is full of bacteria that provide benefits to our digestive system and metabolism. We need to maintain this by ensuring that a healthy diet for our colon consists of foods high in probiotics, such as:
Fruit and Veg
Legumes and Whole-Grains
Of course, these are just some of the areas which are effected by the food we eat. Our diets can also help reduce the risk of diabetes, increase our memory function, strengthen bones and teeth and oh so many more!
Quick Tips for Healthy Changes
It’s hard to go into ‘healthy’ mode from one day to the next, but there are changes that require minimum effort (perhaps a bit of discipline!) that could help your overall health:
Try not to choose soft drinks or those with a high sugar content. Opt for water, fresh fruit juices or herbal teas.
Select one day of the week which will be a meat-free day. There are endless recipes online that could help you out if you’re not very creative in the kitchen, as well as many take-out or delivery options for healthy food in Malta.
Instead of cow’s milk, find a plant-based milk that you enjoy the taste of. Every supermarket or convenience store in Malta now provides plant-based milks, so you don’t have to go out of your way!
50% of your meal should be fresh produce. Malta has excellent locally-grown fresh vegetables and fruit, so head on over to a truck or local supplier and get your goodness there!
Avoid super salty (but ever-so-tasty!) processed meats, such as salami and traditional Maltese sausage. The salt content in these is high and can increase the risk of colon cancer.
Steer clear from red meat as much as possible. It is easier said than done, but it does increase the risk of heart disease and cholesterol. It’s delicious and if you can’t live without it, at least opt for ‘white’ meats such as chicken, turkey or rabbit.
Eating lean protein is key and this can be found in eggs, nuts, beans and fish.
Healthy Food Choices In Malta
Healthy food in Malta is getting easier and easier to come by nowadays, with almost all cafes, bars and restaurants now catering to people with varying dietary requirements. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, are gluten-free or have other food allergies or are trying to maintain a diet, you’ll find something that suits you at most places. Being that the Central regions of Malta, as well as the North, cater so heavily to expats are tourists alike, options around these areas make it easier to source the healthy options.
There are more lunch-time places, little food kiosks, take-away options throughout the island, especially in central areas, which make grabbing a quick lunch super easy and super healthy! They cater to the health-conscious, where you’ll find a variety of snacks, meals, desserts and drinks that will keep the guilt away!
If you haven’t found your favourite ‘health-focused’ dine-in or take-out, then visit a local supermarket where you can find endless amounts of healthy ingredients. Healthy food in Malta is easier to come by than ever and every supermarket in Malta has a dedicated healthy food section to cater to this ever-increasing market of those that want to improve their diet.