Spaniards are not as healthy as they think

Despite seldom eating breakfast, sleeping very little and eating too much red meat, seven out of ten Spaniards consider their habits to be totally healthy. New research begs to differ.

Spaniards are not as healthy as they think
People eating tapas in Madrid. Photo: Gerard Julien / AFP.

They may serve up some of the best food in the world, but Spaniards still don't quite know how to eat, a new study says.

Seven out of ten Spaniards may think they are eating right, but most are actually not dishing up their recommended helpings of fruits, veggies and fish, according to a study by Nestlé released last week.

One out of six people skipped at least one of the three main meals of the day. Another 70 percent do not eat the five recommended mid-sized meals they should each day – breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner. 

Another 90 percent did not eat a proper breakfast or did not eat breakfast at all.

“The results show that there are significant differences between perception and the reality of our nutritional habits,” the study said.

And looking at what kinds of food Spaniards consumed also showed a difference between how much they thought they were eating and how much they actually were.

The vast majority of Spaniards said they drank sufficient water each day, but the study showed that only 21 percent were actually gulping down the recommended eight glasses of water a day. In reality, Spaniards drank on average about five glasses of water per day.

And Spaniards were also eating much more red meat than they should. One serving of red meat a week is considered the healthy amount, but Spaniards were consuming more than twice that amount at 2.5 portions per week on average.

Unhealthy habits

Beyond eating habits, Spaniards had some other not so healthy tendencies. Although overall the Spanish passed the test when it came to exercise, with more than 60 percent engaging in physical activity other than walking, more than 40 percent of women don't do any form of regular exercise.

Spaniards also failed to make the mark when it came to sleep habits with more than a quarter saying they slept less than seven hours at night.

Additionally, 83 percent used electronic devices before bedtime instead of doing something like reading or listening to music that better prepares the body for restful sleep.

Making 'all kinds of excuses'

Spaniards gave a lot of reasons to explain why they didn't eat what they should, ranging from 'I don't have good food at home' to 'I forgot' to 'I'm lazy'.

“The Spanish make all kinds of excuses for why we do not eat well,” the report said.

For fish, of which only 30 percent of respondents ate the recommended three to four weekly servings, most said they did not eat enough due to the price.

The main reason given for not getting enough sleep was not having the time or being stressed (39 percent). Another reason was that people said they had trouble falling or staying asleep (29 percent).

But having not so healthy habits hasn't stopped Spaniards from living long, full lives. Another study in April showed that Spain had the highest life expectancy in Europe while Spanish women were found to be the second-longest living in the entire world in a separate study last year.

Still, this could change if World Health Organization predictions comes true that over half of Spaniards will be overweight by 2030.


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These are Spain’s new Michelin-starred restaurants

The new 2023 Michelin Star guide for the best restaurants in Spain and Portugal has awarded new stars to 34 restaurants across Spain. Read on to discover which ones and where they are.

These are Spain's new Michelin-starred restaurants

En España se come bien (People eat well in Spain), you’ll hear many Spaniards proclaim. That’s coming from a country that’s not accustomed to singing its own praises on the global stage. 

Although these higher-than-average gastronomic standards apply to all types of bars and restaurants, when it comes to haute cuisine, Spain continues to be among the top five countries with the most Michelin-starred eateries, together with France, Japan, Italy and Germany.

On Tuesday November 22nd, Michelin revealed its newest restaurant selection of acclaimed Spanish restaurants during an event in the Spanish city of Toledo.

As of November 2022, two restaurants in Spain have been awarded the coveted three Michelin Star distinction.

Three have gone up to the two-star category and 29 restaurants have been given new one-star rankings.

Atrio in Cáceres (Extremadura region in western Spain) and Cocina Hermanos Torres in Barcelona have both earned the top award three-star prize, which is the highest award that can be given, and have joined the 13 other restaurants in Spain at this level.

According to the judges, Atrio won the distinction due to “its elegant and delicate dishes, prepared by chef Toño Pérez, who has shaken up local gastronomic traditions”. His menu focuses on Iberian pork and other products from Extremadura.

While in Barcelona, Cocina Hermanos Torres has been given the top award for “firing the imagination with every bite”. Chefs Sergio and Javier Torres have created “a magical space in which the gastronomic experience consistently seeks out the very best seasonal produce and exceeds foodies’ expectations, turning it into a dining extravaganza,” the judges said.

READ ALSO – REVEALED: Spain’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants

Of the 2023 guide, International Director of Michelin Gwendal Poullennec said: “We were delighted to see how younger chefs are taking the lead and embarking on their own journeys, in many cases flying the flag of reinterpreted regional or fusion cuisines”.

“In turn, vegan options are gradually forging ahead on menus, something which was already occurring in other European countries,” he added. 

Below are the Spanish rankings for the 2023 guide, including the three stars awarded to Atrio and Cocina Hermanos Torres. 

Two stars

  • Deessa, Madrid
  • El Rincón de Juan Carlos, Adeje, Tenerife
  • Pepe Vieira, Serpe, Pontevedra

One star

  • Ababol, Albacete
  • Ajonegro, Logroño
  • Aleia, Barcelona
  • AlmaMater, Murcia
  • Alquimia-Laboratorio, Valladolid
  • Ancestral, Illescas
  • Arrea!, Santa Cruz de Campezo
  • Ceibe, Ourense
  • Cobo Evolución, Burgos
  • Código de Barra, Cádiz
  • Come, Barcelona
  • Enigma, Barcelona
  • Etxeko Ibiza, Es Canar, Ibiza
  • Ferpel, Ortiguera
  • Fusión19, Muro, Mallorca
  • Gente Rara, Zaragoza
  • Kaleja, Málaga
  • La Finca, Loja
  • Mont Bar, Barcelona
  • Monte, San Feliz
  • Montia, San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  • Oba, Casas-Ibáñez
  • O’Pazo, Padrón
  • Ravioxo, Madrid
  • San-Hô, Adeje, Tenerife
  • Slow & Low, Barcelona
  • Tabaiba, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Ugo Chan, Madrid
  • Zuara Sushi, Madrid

The Michelin Guide also handed out special awards to three different chefs.

The Young Chef Award for 2023 went to Almería-born chef Cristóbal Muñoz, who at age 31, heads up the kitchens at Ambivium in Peñafiel, Castilla y León.

The Chef Mentor Award for 2023 was given to a well-known name in the world of Spanish gastronomy – Joan Roca, who together with his brothers turned El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, Catalonia into one of the best and most famous restaurants in the world.

Finally, the Michelin Service Award for 2023 was presented to Toni Gerez from Castell de Peralada, also in Catalonia. As the restaurant manager and sommelier, he “excels in customer-facing roles, in particular, when presenting his marvellous cheese cart that goes from table to table,” explained the judges.

In total, the 2023 Guide lists 1,401 restaurants throughout Spain, Portugal and Andorra. Out of these, 13 have three Michelin Stars, 41 have two Michelin Stars and 235 were awarded one Michelin Star.