These are some of the most popular foods in the areas with the highest populations of centenarians.
Let’s face it: many aspects of how we eat in the United States might be much healthier. Our country’s Standard Diet, high in processed foods, added sugar and saturated fats, contributes to many health problems. Fortunately, we can draw inspiration from various parts of the world. There are five areas of the globe with the highest populations of centenarians, and we may learn a lot from how the world’s longest living people eat daily.
These areas include Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Ikaria in Greece, Nicoya in Costa Rica, and Loma Linda in California. And, while each zone consumes foods specific to their environment and lifestyle, they share many general eating habits. These areas, for example, eat mostly plant-based foods, plenty of whole grains, multiple servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and limit their consumption of processed foods and added sugars.
In the United States, learning about these nutrition patterns practiced by other regions can help us realize what we can incorporate into our everyday lives to be a little bit healthier. Here are some foods the world’s longest-living people consume regularly.
1. Whole grains
Many Blue Zone regions, particularly Sardinia and Ikaria, consume whole grains regularly. Oats, quinoa, brown rice, farro, and whole grain bread are examples of whole grains.
Many of us in the United States may find this surprising or even unsettling because we’ve been told for decades that “carbs are bad.” On the other hand, whole grains have been shown to boost our health in various ways. This type of grain is known to help manage blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It varies from white, refined grains in that it remains entirely intact.
Loma Linda, California, is one of the five Blue Zones and is a town comprised primarily of Seventh-Day Adventists. Along with regular religious practice and a weekly period of 24 hours of solitary reflection, members of this community consume a mostly vegetarian diet rich in nutritious foods.
Avocados have numerous health advantages and is a Loma Linda neighborhood staple. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the residents of Loma Linda are extremely healthy because avocados provide numerous health benefits. Avocados, for example, have been shown to aid with weight management and lower your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. In addition, according to studies, avocados may also help lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease due to their high quantities of beneficial fats.
Beans are a mainstay in most Blue Zones and provide beneficial quantities of fiber and other nutrients that aid in illness prevention. In Ikaria, Greece, for example, black-eyed peas are a common part of the daily diet, and these beans have been shown to have anti-cancer, heart-healthy, and anti-diabetes qualities.
Costa Rica’s Nicoya culture consumes black beans regularly, commonly with rice and corn tortillas. Black beans are abundant in fiber and antioxidants and have been linked to improved diabetic management, cancer prevention, and a lower risk of heart disease.
Garlic is widely consumed on the Greek island of Ikaria. Garlic, used for centuries in different cultures for its therapeutic benefits, has been associated with curing a common cold or flu. In addition, studies have shown that it can help reduce the time someone is sick with an infection.
Garlic also possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities and has been linked to preventing some malignancies, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders.
White potatoes are a mainstay in Ikaria, Greece, and purple sweet potatoes are consumed daily in Okinawa, Japan.
Purple sweet potatoes contain anthocyanins, a phytochemical believed to help prevent disease. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. While some people believe white potatoes are unhealthy due to their high carbohydrate content, research has discovered that they contain antioxidants that may help shrink cancer cells. According to some research, white potatoes may also help manage blood sugar levels, but see your doctor first.
6. Olive oil
The Ikarians consume olive oil daily. According to a Nutrients analysis, Rxtra virgin olive oil has a long range of documented health advantages, which is why many individuals in the Mediterranean, where EVOO is frequently consumed, are among the healthiest people in the world.
Olive oil, for example, has been shown to aid in weight management, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of some malignancies, and contribute to overall health due to its anti-inflammatory characteristics.
Fish is regularly consumed by Adventists in Loma Linda, even by those who follow a plant-based diet. As a result, Pescatarians had the longest life expectancy and were the healthiest on average.
Many Blue Zone regions consume small fish species such as cod, anchovies, and sardines, which the Blue Zones website describes as “middle-of-the-food-chain” fish with very little mercury.
8. Sourdough bread
Sardinia, Italy, is another Blue Zone region where residents enjoy goat’s milk, flatbread, chickpeas, and sourdough bread.
This bread can help reduce gluten, simplify digestion by breaking down simple carbohydrates, and provide a healthier overall experience. Indeed, studies demonstrate that sourdough can improve digestion and modify the gut flora while lowering the glycemic load.
Sardinians adore tomatoes and utilize them in a variety of ways. Tomatoes include lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory qualities that can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and stroke, and enhance heart health.
Cherry tomatoes, in particular, have higher quantities of beta carotene, which has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of prostate cancer tumor formation.
This could be the most exciting news you’ve heard all day. Yes, many Blue Zone regions drink red wine daily as part of their healthy diet. Many individuals in these regions have two glasses of wine daily, and Sardinians enjoy a special red wine called Cannonau wine.
Some research investigations support the concept that wine may promote longevity, concluding that red wine can be helpful to your heart health due to its antioxidant and polyphenol content. Of course, like with any alcohol, moderation is crucial, and you should always consult a doctor if you have any concerns. And, if you’re not a big drinker or simply drink on occasion, these findings don’t indicate you should start! There are numerous different strategies to incorporate the health practices of most elderly people.
Learn more: 5 Best Eating Habits to Get a Lean Body Fast