And the Oscar Goes to….Healthy Tidbits from Countries Featured in the Academy Awards

The Oscars are here! Grab some popcorn and see your favorite movies and actors compete to be the best.  In honor of the Oscars we present healthy tidbits from the countries featured in the movies nominated for the Best Foreign Film Category.

Film: Omar

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Region: Palestine

Oscars Synopsis: When a trio of young Palestinians decides to kill an Israeli soldier, one of them, a baker named Omar, is arrested and beaten by Israeli intelligence agents. Told that he will be given his freedom if he assists in capturing the man they believe to be the shooter, Omar rejoins his friends and begins to suspect that there is an informant among them.”

Healthy tidbitPalestine is known for thyme, in particular a mixture called Za’atar.  Za’atar is a staple of Palestinian kitchens, as well as many other Middle eastern recipes.  It is a mixture of dried spices-most often thyme and oregano, salt, sesame seeds and sumac.  Other spices such as mint, marjoram and sage may also be included. Recipes vary depending on the individual, with some family recipes closely guarded sources of pride.  It is used on flatbreads (mixed with olive oil), or as a rub for various meats. You can also sprinkle it on some popcorn while watching the Oscars! What’s so healthy about it? Many of its ingredients such as  sumac, thyme and oregano have powerful antioxidant and antiseptic effects.  In the 12th century, the Spanish Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides was said to have used it to treat colds. Research on the substance is only preliminary but still interesting and compelling nonetheless. Check out this recipe for za’atar.

Film: The Broken Circle Breakdown

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Country: Belgium

Oscar Synopsis:  “As bluegrass performer Didier and his girlfriend Elise face a family tragedy, the history of their relationship in its early days is revisited. Reluctant at first to let adult responsibilities alter the carefree nature of their lives, Didier and Elise learn that love can sometimes bring both intense joy and great sorrow”

Healthy Tidbit: Belgium is in the top 10% of healthiest countries in the world.  According to an Oxfam index,  which ranks countries based on a number of indicators, Belgium has a healthy population with low rates of obesity, access to affordable healthy food and clean water. (Interestingly out of the 125 countries, the US did not even fall into the top 25).  

Film: The Hunt

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Country: Denmark

Oscar Synopsis: “The devastating effects of false accusations of child molestation play out in the life of an innocent kindergarten teacher. Lucas’s rapport with the children in his class has led one little girl, Klara, to develop a crush on him, but her embarrassment when her feelings are revealed leads her to claim that he exposed himself.”

Healthy Tidbit: Denmark was crowned the World’s Happiest Country according to a 2013 United Nations General Assembly Report.   The index is based on a number of factors including life expectancy, health indicators, and social support.  The Danish have a great standard of living, extended maternity and paternity leave as compared to the US, and children have access to free or low cost child care and early childhood education.

Film: The Great Beauty

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Country: Italy

Oscar Synopsis: “Jep Gambardella is a well-known journalist whose success has placed him at the center of Rome’s decadent social world. But Jep is also the author of an acclaimed novel, written years ago, and he remains haunted by the career he failed to pursue when he chose the seductive ease of his current life.”

Healthy Tidbit: Italy is healthy for a number of reasons.  It has one of the world’s Blue Zones in the Island of Sardinia.  Italians are also known for their great Mediterranean diet, which features olive oil, fruits and vegetables, all which have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and stroke. In addition, Italy also ranks among the top 10% of the World’s healthiest countries.

Film: The Missing Picture

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Country: Cambodia

Oscar Synopsis: “Few images exist of the brutality unleashed on Cambodia by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge following the Kampuchean Revolution in 1975. Using clay figures to stand in for himself, his family and the many Cambodians whose lives were destroyed during the years that followed, Rithy Panh recreates a dark and bloody period in his country’s history.”

Healthy Tidbit: Cambodia has a troubled past as highlighted in this movie. It also has the magnificent Angkor Wat, which has survived many of the turmoil of this past. Angkor Wat is the largest known religious monument in the World built in the 12th century originally as a Hindu then later as a Buddhist complex.   Buddhism, the religion practiced by the majority of Cambodians today, has a number of health benefits.   Buddhist meditation is associated with increased memory, better mood and lower blood pressure.

Fun Oscar Trivia

  • Only 3 films have one all four of the top categories (best picture,actress, actor, screenplay and director: It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Silence of the Lambs.
  • The first color film to win Best Picture was Gone with the Wind in 1939.
  • The last black and white film to win Best Picture was The Artist in 2011.
  • Meryl Streep has been nominated the most times for actress categories (17) but Katherine Hepburn has won the most actress awards (4).
  • Jack Nicholson has been nominated the most for actor categories (13) and has won the most actor awards (3).


The Oscars 2014 | 86th Academy Awards

Book of the Week

Recipe of the Week: Za’atar

2 Responses to And the Oscar Goes to….Healthy Tidbits from Countries Featured in the Academy Awards

  1. Adriene February 28, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    Great article!

    • jcblancha February 28, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks for reading Adriene!

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