Israelis are routinely ranked among the healthiest people in the world, with one of the highest life expectancies. Find out why, and learn the secrets of the Israeli diet and lifestyle that you too can adopt for the New Year!
The average life expectancy for Israelis as of 2021 is 83.2 years – that’s higher than in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and many other developed nations. Israel’s life expectancy is currently ranked 12th in the world, and researchers only expect it to rise given current trends, projecting it to be 7th in the world by the year 2040.
Israel is also highly ranked in other health statistics and measures, with below-average obesity and a low infant mortality rate.
So why are Israelis so healthy and manage to live so long?
1. Military service and culture of fitness
Studies have found that countries with mandatory military service tend to have higher life expectancies, and Israel is no different. The 2-3 years that most young Israeli adults spend in the IDF build lifelong fitness habits and self-discipline.
Israel also has a high number of career soldiers and reserve soldiers, which are paths that require regular training and keeping up optimal levels of physical strength and fitness.
The value of physical fitness that’s fostered by the army continues through many Israelis’ adult lives and is passed down to their children. Tel Aviv is particularly known for its workout culture, with its beaches, parks, and promenades always packed with runners, swimmers, skateboarders, and residents of all ages exercising in the many outdoor free gyms or playing volleyball, soccer, frisbee, or matkot, a popular Israeli paddle ball game.
A lifestyle full of regular exercise helps Israelis maintain their overall good health and longevity, including low obesity and lower risk of disease.
2. Nationalized healthcare
Healthcare in Israel is a legal right, with nationally provided universal health insurance for all citizens, which makes medical care highly accessible and very affordable. Combined with some of the most cutting-edge medical research and top-notch healthcare facilities in the world, it means that Israelis are able to prevent and treat diseases quickly and effectively.
As a result, an Israeli adult’s chances of dying from heart disease, stroke, cancer, or diabetes are among the lowest in the world.
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3. Mediterranean diet
Like the rest of the region, Israelis largely adhere to the Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, fruit, olive oil, and fish. Certain produce that’s indigenous to the country and features prominently in its diet – like the superfoods pomegranates, dates, and olives – is particularly high in immunity-boosting antioxidants and other nutrients.
Most produce and foods like eggs or meat in Israel are locally grown and seasonal, reaching their consumer in relatively short periods of time without the need for many preservatives.
In addition, both the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut certification division have high standards for sanitation and the purity of the food offered to consumers.
Israelis also don’t eat as much sugar, sodium, or trans fats – or general “junk food” – as residents of many other developed nations. Common snack foods and desserts in the “Land of Milk and Honey” are healthy options like fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, protein-rich halva, and natural sweeteners full of antioxidants and healthy properties like honey and silan date syrup. (You can learn more about different types of Israeli honey and their benefits here!)
Even processed foods are often high in added vitamins and low in fat or sugar (no corn syrup here!), like the beloved nutrient-rich snack Bamba.
4. Other factors
Some of the other reasons commonly cited for Israelis’ long and healthy lives include: close-knit, family-centered communities with lots of support for the disabled, ill, and elderly; warm, sunny weather nearly year-round; the healing nutrients of the Dead Sea, a common vacation spot for all ages but particularly popular among older residents; and a lifestyle full of spirituality, tradition, and blessings.
So start your 2022 off right, and improve your own health by taking inspiration from Israel’s lifestyle and diet!
Good luck and Happy New Year from Israel!