Culture

These are the 10 healthiest countries in the world 2019

Europe is leading the world's health standings with Mediterranean nations atop the list for 2019.

In new rankings, Europe takes up six of the top 10 spots with North American countries struggling. The US placed lower at 35th for 2019, five places behind Cuba which was the highest ranked non "high income" country on the list.

Studies have suggested that a "Mediterranean diet" supplemented with foods like extra-virgin olive oil and nuts, had a lower rate of major cardiovascular events than others, giving added significance to a country's geography on the rankings.

Asian countries improved their rankings generally with South Korea improving seven places while China rose to 52nd in the world, according to the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index.

The study took into account 169 countries and graded nations on factors like life expectancy but also penalised tobacco use and obesity. Bloomberg's rankings also considered environmental factors such as sanitation and clean water.

1. Spain

Jumping five places in this year's ranking is Spain, overtaking Italy into top spot as the world. It seems like paella and gazpacho will be making it onto healthy food trend lists going forward with Mediterranean cuisine a clear winner for the Southern European country.

By 2040 Spain is expected to have have the highest life expectancy in the world, according to Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and already has the highest life expectancy in the European Union.

2. Italy

First place was just out of reach for Italy in this year's ranking with the Mediterranean nation well known for its great weather, plentiful natural wonders, and some of the world's best, and seemingly healthiest, food.

Research has shown that Mediterranean diets are among the world's healthiest and Italy maintaining a high life expectancy as well as boasting a so-called "Blue Zone" for high quality of life in Sardinia.

3.I celand

A tiny, remote island in the North Atlantic it may be, but Iceland packs a punch well above its size when it comes to public health. Despite dropping from second place last time out, Iceland has a high life expectancy and a Nordic style welfare system with a vastly public healthcare model.

4. Japan

Japan overtakes Singapore to become Asia's healthiest nation for 2019, and climbs three places in this year's ranking. The nation has a diet comprising of oily fish and rice, giving it one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

5. Switzerland

The mountainous central European country of Switzerland has plenty going for it with abundant natural beauty and plentiful lakes and rivers making it a hiker's dream. A diet rich in fruit and grains and an active, sporty culture keeps Switzerland in the top 10, albeit two places lower than 2017's rankings.

6. Sweeden

Boosted to sixth from eighth last year is Sweden, which boasts a strong government funded healthcare system which takes up approximately 12% of GDP, among the world's highest.

7. Australia

Australia drops two places in this year's ranking with the notoriously sunny nation enjoying the glow of another top 10 finish. Replete with a sporty culture and great outdoor spaces Australia is, unsurprisingly, one of the healthiest places in the world.

8. Singapore

The tiny city-state of Singapore comes eighth in this year's rankings, dropping four places and losing its position as the healthiest Asian nation. The country has one of the highest life expectancies in the region and a well-regarded healthcare system.

9. Norway

The land of Fjords is the first of six European nations in the top ten and the second from the Nordic world. As of 2015, Norway had the highest number of nurses and midwives per capita in Europe, although the country has the highest drug overdose and suicide rate amongst Nordic countries for under-49s.

10. Israel

Israel comes in at number 10 with the country's Mediterranean diet standing it in good stead within the Middle Eastern nation dropping one place from the previous rankings. Alongside great dietary trends Israel also has a comparatively high life expectancy, 82.9 years according to 2017 World Health Organisation data, the world's eighth highest.

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