Having travelled to the farthest corners of the earth in a decade long study, Dan Buettner has located five regions with the highest concentration of centenarians, or, Blue Zones.
The result is The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People, a guide to conducting a happy life by transforming your home into a miniature Blue Zone.
Buettner's diet is not an exercise in deprivation, but a seemingly bulletproof compound of the lifestyles and natural eating habits of those who've lived a very long time. Here are the five Blue Zones, each with an infographic showing the foods that have given their inhabitants such longevity.
The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed as the panacea for chronic diseases and champion of physical and mental wellbeing. The centenarians of Ikaria, dubbed by Buettner as “the island where people forget to die”, pride themselves of preparing the right foods in the right manner. Their diet places special emphasis on potatoes, goat milk, honey, legumes – especially garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils – wild greens, fruit, and small amounts of fish.
This Blue Zone has the highest ratio of centenarians in the world, approximately 6.5 per 10,000 people. Food traditions here have been formed mid-20th century as Western influences brought innovations to the dining table: less iconic health foods as seaweed, turmeric and sweet potato, and more rice, milk and meat. The reigning philosophy is to eat something from the land and something from the sea everyday.
The seasoned Italians of Ogliastra attribute their long lives to clean air, local wine and making love every Sunday, but pastoralism seems to be their secret to longevity. Goat milk and sheep's cheese are the most consumed products, approximately 15 pounds per person every year, and a moderate intake of carbs is derived from flat bread, sourdough bread and barley.
The seventh-day adventists of Loma Linda subscribe to a near-biblical dietary plan centered around grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and small amounts of meat and fish. Sugar is vetoed unless attained from natural sources like fruits, dates and figs, and lots of plain water is their elixir of life.
Could the long-lived people of the Nicoya Peninsula be the begetters of the #putaneggonit internet fad? They certainly seem to be, garnishing many of their plates with protein-rich eggs. The Three Sisters of Mesoamerica – maze, beans and squash – also remain an important part of the local diet.
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