Live to be 100! Secrets of longevity from the Blue Zones

blue zone diet

NPR highlights excerpts and notable findings from New York Times bestselling author, Dan Buettner, books The Blue Zones and the Blue Zone Solution, which share findings on regional lifestyles and diet that create longevity. Movement/exercise, relaxation, strong family ties and diet were found to be key elements for longevity.

In this world-wide trek for the fountain of youth, the team narrowed specifically healthy regions down to five places that met all their criteria. They gave them official Blue Zone status: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

In the new book, released April 7, Buettner distills the researchers’ findings on what exactly the Blue Zones share regarding diet and eating habits.

Here’s a taste:

  • Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full to avoid weight gain.
  • Eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Eat mostly plants, especially beans. And eat meat rarely, in small portions of 3 to 4 ounces. Blue Zoners eat portions this size just five times a month, on average.
  • Drink alcohol moderately and regularly, i.e. 1-2 glasses a day.

The book also features “top longevity foods” from each Blue Zone, some of which we found pretty intriguing.

Ikaria, Greece

You may remember this Blue Zone from Buettner’s wonderful 2012 New York Times Magazine article entitled “The Island Where People Forget To Die.”

As we’ve reported, health researchers have long praised the Mediterranean diet for promoting brain and physical health and keeping chronic diseases at bay. So what makes the diet of the people on Ikaria, a small island in the Aegean Sea, so special?

“Their tradition of preparing the right foods, in the right way, I believe, has a lot to do with the island’s longevity,” writes Buettner.

And “what set it apart from other places in the region was its emphasis on potatoes, goat’s milk, honey, legumes (especially garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils), wild greens, some fruit and relatively small amounts of fish.”

Ikaria has a few more “top longevity foods:” feta cheese, lemons and herbs like sage and marjoram that Ikarians use in their daily tea. The diet rich in plant-based foods favors olive oil for its health properties as well. What’s missing that we usually associate with Greece? Lamb and fish. The Ikarians do eat some goat meat, but not its rare.

 

STORY CREDIT  / READ MORE:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/11/398325030/eating-to-break-100-longevity-diet-tips-from-the-blue-zones

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