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West Africans Have Some of the Healthiest Diets in the World

Lily Kuo | Quartz   in 
November 17, 2015

People in Mali, Chad, Senegal and Sierra Leone enjoy healthier diets than their counterparts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan or Canada, according to a study published in The Lancet Global Health this spring.

Using self-reported diet surveys from 187 countries that are home to 89% of the world’s adult population, researchers led by Fumiaki Imamura from the University of Cambridge analyzed the intake of healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish, as well as foods containing fiber and omega-3s. They also looked at the consumption of unhealthy foods such as sugary drinks, saturated fats, sodium, and processed meats.

Taken all together, Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly West Africa, ranked better than wealthier regions in North America and Europe, probably because of a diet comprised of lean meats, vegetables, legumes, and staple starches, with less processed foods than countries that fared worse (such as the US and Russia):

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