The longest-living people on earth swear by 11 simple diet rules every day | The Sun
MANY of world's longest-living people are gathered in regions of Japan, Costa Rica, Italy, Greece, and California – the so-called 'Blue Zones'.
People in these spots have been the subjects of countless pieces of research and often live to 100.
From Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, to Loma Linda in California and Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, scientists have spotted many similarities between their ways of life, with diet being a major part of that.
A team of researchers and scientists lead by author Dan Buettner has made a point of observing these long-living cultures and compiled a list of dietary patterns that all of us can easily follow.
Here's your guide to eating the Blue Zone way, with 11 simple diet rules to stick to.
1. Plant forward
Want to eat like a Blue Zones resident?You should aim to make your diet 95 to 100 percent plant based, the guidelines state.
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"The best-of-the-best longevity foods are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards," according to the longevity experts.
Aim to also pepper in seasonal fruit and veg, whole grains, beans and nuts, they went on.
Your preference for plant-based ingredients should extend to fats too: that means choosing olive oil rather than butter.
2. Retreat from meat
Meat on the other hand, should be enjoyed sparingly as a celebratory food or a small side.
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Research observing vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists living in Loma Linda, California, suggested that they will likely outlive their meat-eating counterparts by as many as eight years.
"While you may want to celebrate from time to time with chicken, pork or beef, we don’t recommend it as part of a Blue Zones diet," the experts said.
Instead, they suggested opting for extra firm tofu as a protein substitute, as Okinawans do.
3. Occasionally fishy
Blue Zoners do opt for fish – but less than you'd think, the longevity experts said.
Up to three small servings a week are enough if you want to do as the centenarians do.
Most of them eat small, inexpensive fish, like sardines, anchovies, and cod.
These varieties are not exposed to the high levels of mercury or other chemicals, nor are they threatened by over-fishing.
4. Diminish dairy
Most Blue Zoners stay away from dairy milk – with the exception of some Adventists.
Cardiologist Dr Gary Fraser, who lives in Loma Linda, compared the diets of milk and non-milk drinking Adventists and found that cows' milk seems to be associated with a higher risk of breast and prostate cancer.
You can still opt for other varieties of dairy though, as yogurt and cheese don't seem to carry the same risks.
Otherwise, you can emulate Ikarians and Sardinians by choosing goat’s and sheep’s milk products.
5. Eliminate eggs
"Eggs aren’t necessary for living a long life and we don’t recommend them, but if you must eat them eat no more than three eggs per week," the guidelines state.
The experts suggested having one egg as an accompaniment to a whole-grain or plant-based dish.
But they noted that some people with heart and circulatory problems or diabetes chose to forgo them.
6. Supreme beans
"Beans reign supreme in Blue Zones" and are "the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world", according to the scientists.
Aim to eat at least half a cup of cooked beans daily, choosing from black beans, lentils, chickpeas and white beans, to name just a few.
Aside from being rich in fibre and protein, there's an added bonus to eating them: "Because beans are so hearty and satisfying, they’ll likely push less healthy foods out of your diet."
7. Slash sugar
Blue Zoners "eat sugar intentionally, not by habit or accident", the longevity experts stated.
That means saving sweets, cookies and cakes for special occasions.
Aim to eat no more than seven teaspoons of added sugar daily, which amounts to about 28 grams.
8. Nutty nibbles
If you're looking to snack the centenarian way, two handfuls of nuts per day is the way to go.
Go for a mix of almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, cashews and walnuts.
9. Bye-bye bread
People in Blue Zones do eat bread, but it won't be the sliced and processed kind you find in supermarkets.
According to the diet experts: "Most commercially available breads start with bleached white flour, which metabolises quickly into sugar and spikes insulin levels."
Instead, opt for whole grain, rye or sourdough varieties.
10. The whole story
If you can, go for whole foods, rather than ones that are processed or fat and sugar free.
"A good definition of a 'whole food' would be one that is made of a single ingredient, raw, cooked, ground, or fermented, and not highly processed," according to diet guidelines.
Blue Zoners also derive nutrients from the food they eat, rather than vitamins and supplements.