CHOOSING A HEALTHY EATING PATTERN is vitally important, as diet directly influences health.
Obesity causes at least 300,000 deaths a year, while the combination of excess weight and lack of physical activity are responsible for more than 400,000 deaths a year. The problem isn’t limited to the United States—it affects both rich and poor countries around the world.
Americans need to understand that excess weight and obesity are literally killing us. Each small step makes a difference: A healthy diet (combined with regular exercise and not smoking) can help prevent not only excess weight and obesity but also heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other chronic diseases. A healthy diet can also help control many health conditions. The problem for most people is how to understand what constitutes healthy eating. It’s a daunting task, even for people who consider themselves nutrition savvy.
Dozens of new diet books are published each year, but few are based on solid scientific principles. An independent team, led by Dr. Walter C. Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, has been working to clear up the confusion by defining what constitutes a healthy diet according to the best scientific evidence available. Their work complements research from a range of leaders in the field of nutrition from all over the world. In many cases, this work is running ahead of government policy-makers’ ability to translate it into accurate, up-to-date public health messages.
The Culinary Institute of America’s first Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat was held in 2004 on our Greystone campus to address the needs of leaders in the food-service industry. We invited several internationally acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors to prepare meals and to showcase the healthful nature of their native kitchens. Aromatic, stimulating, and delicious beyond words, the lunches and dinners confirmed that the world’s cuisines abound in healthful ideas: from India’s spicy lemon broth with lentils to Mexico’s green mole with vegetables to a Spanish salad of greens, figs, and gazpacho vinaigrette.
As food experts from Mexico, Greece, India, and Vietnam displayed the riches of their native table at the Worlds of Healthy Flavors gathering, one point crystallized: Americans still have a lot to discover. With the recipes and healthy cooking techniques in this book, and the drive to continue your study of how food and health are intertwined, the lessons of the world’s most intriguing cuisines can translate into healthier menu options both in your restaurant and in your home.