Iceland Is No Longer the Healthiest Country in the World

Can you guess which country took its place?

Healthy food clean eating selection: fish, fruit, nuts, vegetable, seeds, superfood, cereals, leaf vegetable on black concrete background. Flat layVasiliyBudarin/Shutterstock

Researchers seem to change their minds every other day about what kind of diet is the best to follow. As one fad diet replaces another, people are left wondering how they should really be eating. Well, according to the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, we should all be eating and living like Spaniards, as the European country has been named the healthiest country in the world.

So what does Spain have that those other countries don’t? A number of environmental and behavioral factors affect the outcome of the Healthiest Country Index, including life expectancy, substance abuse, disease, water quality, etc. Like other top healthy nations in the world including Italy and Iceland (second and third healthiest countries respectively), the citizens of Spain enjoy a very steady diet of fish. The Spanish diet, also known as the Mediterranean diet, also includes copious amounts of olive oil, nuts, and vegetables, and very limited red meat. As a result, the country has seen a steady decline in heart disease over the past decade as well as a decline in the number of deaths related to cancer, as reported by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Try these 10 heart-healthy recipes cardiologists cook for themselves.

When it comes to healthcare, Spain mainly relies on public health providers and family practices, as opposed to the highly privatized health organizations we see in the United States (which ranked 35th in the 2019 Healthiest Country Index, by the way). While Japan currently holds the highest life expectancy in the world, experts predict that Spain will take the crown from the Asian country in this regard by the year 2040, when the life expectancy at birth for it citizens should hit 86 years old.

Only time will tell if Spain will keep the title of World’s Healthiest Country in the years to come. It is worth noting, however, that out of the 169 countries examined by this study, six out of the top ten were European nations. So if you want to live a healthier life, try these tips for making your diet more Mediterranean.

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Taylor Markarian
Taylor is a regular contributor to covering culture, advice, travel, pets, and all things weird and haunted. She is the author of From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society, which analyzes the evolution of punk and mental health. She holds a B.A. in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College.