What's the Blue Zones Diet? 4 Blue Zones Foods That Help People Live Longer
This diet is synonymous with regions of the world where people live longer, healthier lives.
If you want to be forever young (cue Alphaville) it starts with a healthy diet, and extending your lifespan may be possible thanks to a new dieting trend. The Blue Zones Diet is based off of dietary insights from the world's longest-lived people, according to Blue Zones LLC. Read on to learn all about blue zones and the food and dietary changes you can make to live a longer, healthier life.
What Are Blue Zones?
In the early 2000s, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and author, went on a quest to find the secrets to longevity. By the end of a decade-long research period, he discovered five distinct places in the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives: Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Buettner dubbed these places "blue zones," and he has written a book on the subject called "The Blue Zones Solution."
Although environment is a factor, Buettner found a common thread among these super-agers: a healthy diet. To be more specific, a plant-based diet, where meat is consumed less than five times a month. According to CNN, Buettner and his team have launched Blue Zones Project communities, starting with the city of Albert Lea, Minnesota. Through the lifestyles changes that came with the Blue Zones Project, residents of Albert Lea added 2.9 years to their lifespans, and saved millions in healthcare costs.
Blue Zones Diet Food Guidelines
What's the number one rule of the Blue Zones Diet? A whole foods, plant-based diet — 95 percent plant-based to be exact. According to Blue Zones LLC., the Blue Zones Diet consists of 95 percent plant-based, and five percent animal-based foods. Plant-based foods include fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which are the cheapest and most accessible to people living in blue zones. People in blue zones often avoid animal-based foods such as meat and dairy, as well as sugary and processed foods. Try including some of these blue zone foods in your diet, plus get top-rated recipes for each:
1. Whole Grains
The Blue Zones Diet's food guidelines recommend eating 100 percent whole grains, including farro, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal bulgur, and cornmeal. These grains are high in fiber and incredibly filling. They are also more likely to make calories available as energy rather than stored fat, as opposed to grains that come from bleached white flour or processed grains.
Video: Farro with Wild Mushrooms
Popular Grain Recipes:
Beans, legumes, and pulses dominate the diet of blue zone dwellers. In fact, people in blue zones eat four times as many beans as the average American. They're high in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates (the kind that deliver steady energy), not to mention cheap. There's endless ways to enjoy them, but we have a few ideas below.
Watch: Black Bean and Corn Salad II
Popular Bean Recipes:
According to the Blue Zones Diet's food guidelines, you should eat two handfuls of nuts per day. They found that nut eaters outlive non-nut eaters by an average of 2 to 3 years. The optimal mix of nuts includes almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, and walnuts, all of which are loaded with important nutrients.
Popular Nut Recipes:
4. Leafy Greens
What's the best of all the longevity foods according to the Blue Zones Diet? Leafy greens. This includes spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards. These have powerful antioxidant properties, including vitamins A and C.
Video: Mediterranean Kale
Popular Leafy Green Recipes:
- Best Keto Friendly Recipes for the Mediterranean Diet
- Best Recipes for a Plant Based Diet
- Browse our entire collection of Healthy Recipes.