9 diet secrets of people living longest and healthiest
What’s the secret to living a long and healthy life? Scientists believe a complex formula that includes social connections, the environment, happiness levels, sleep habits, having a sense of purpose, and the food and drink we consume is involved.
People in the earth’s five ‘Blue Zones’ – Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya, Costa Rica – statistically live the longest, healthiest lives – frequently to or beyond 100 years and without chronic illnesses.
Award-winning journalist and documentary maker Dan Buettner, who is credited with first identifying these so-called longevity pockets, published 2008 his findings in his bestselling book, The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People who’ve Lived the Longest.
He has also published a number of 30-minute recipes that people in these areas eat in his latest plant-forward recipe book, titled The Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipies to Live to 100.
Read on for a recap of nine key learnings of Buettner’s philosophy on following a Blue Zones diet.
- Plants Plants Plants
Prefer beans, greens, sweet potatoes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and ensure 95% of your food comes from a plant or a plant product.
- Often say NO to meat
Consume meat no more than two times a week. Favour whole, free-range meat over processed meat, such as hot dogs and bacon.
- Fish is OKAY
People in the Blue Zones usually consume up to three ounces of fish every day (about the size of a deck of cards).
- Skip dairy
According to researchers, our digestive system is not optimised for cow’s milk products and a cup of cooked kale or a cup of tofu offers just as much calcium as a cup of milk.
- At times, eggs are fine
Consume no more than three free-range eggs a week.
- Beans, please
Eat a minimum of half a cup of beans and legumes every day, irrespective of the kind. Beans are the fundamental cornerstone of every Blue Zone diet.
- Cut on sugar
People in these longevity pockets only eat confectionery during celebrations. Seven added teaspoons of sugar a day should be considered the limit.
- Say YES to nuts
A scientific study by Harvard University showed nut eaters have a 20% lower mortality rate than non-nut eaters. Aim to eat two handfuls of nuts every day.
- Prefer whole foods
Centenarians in the Blue Zones consume whole foods – food that is not processed at all or processed minimally, thus rarely ingesting artificial preservatives.