What are the food habits that help individuals in Blue Zones live for more than 100 years? Here are four food secrets from the world’s longest-lived people.
We recently wrote about the alcohol drinking habits of people who live in Blue Zones (regions in the world with the highest concentration of centenarians). But, as you might know, those habits on their own can do little to help you live longer if they’re not paired with the right diet.
So what exactly are the food habits that help individuals in Blue Zones live for more than 100 years? Backed by research, here are four food secrets from the world’s longest-lived people:
Watch the meat
While people in Blue Zones don’t avoid meat, they tend to eat it sparingly, getting their protein from alternative sources such as tofu, soy, beans, and fish. When meat does end up on their plates, the portions are very small: two to three ounces. Simply put, meat isn’t the centerpiece of the meal the way it is in the US, which improves longevity, so make a habit of finding meat substitutes whenever possible.
Fill up on plants
With less meat in your diet, you might find some extra space on your plate, which you should fill up with vegetables and plant-based products. People living in Blue Zones have a diet that’s 90 percent plant-based. There are plenty of plants rich in protein. Think beans, greens, yams and sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Snacking on nuts, for example, can be a great way to keep up enough protein throughout the day. Also, consider dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, which help reduce free radicals in the body and help prolong life.
Cut the dairy
Reduce your consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products such as cheese, cream, and butter. Cow’s milk does not figure significantly in the Blue Zone diets. Instead, people in these regions get their calcium and protein from the plant-based foods mentioned previously. For example, one cup of cooked kale, or two-thirds of a cup of tofu, provides just as much calcium as a cup of milk.
Beans, beans, beans
People in Blue Zones eat four times the amount of beans an average American does. Just half a cup a day will fulfill most of your vitamin and mineral needs. In addition to being filling, these legumes are high in fiber, which helps your body replenish probiotics for gastrointestinal health. Researchers have found that eating 20 grams of beans a day reduces the risk of death by eight percent — a statistic that should be enough to make beans a recurring item on your grocery list.