Credit: Blue Zones

The Eating Habits of the Longest-Lived People in the World

Andrew Merle

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“If you want to live to a healthy 100, eat like healthy people who’ve lived to 100.” — Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones

Buettner has spent the last 15 years studying the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world. He’s traveled extensively to the blue zones of Ikaria, Greeca; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Costa Rica, observing and interviewing countless centenarians (and supercentenarians!) in search of the magic formula for longevity.

Credit: Blue Zones

Buettner and his team of researchers discovered 9 common denominators among the longest-lived people in these blue zones, ranging from their level of physical activity and social connection, to their sense of belonging and purpose.

These 9 factors combine to be the special sauce of longevity but “food is the entrance ramp for better living,” according to Buettner.

That’s why he devoted his most recent book, The Blue Zones Kitchen, to the food guidelines and recipes of the blue zones. In the book, he distills his research to reveal 11 common eating habits among the longest-lived people in the world.

1. 90–100% of their diet is plant-based

People in the blue zones eat a wide variety of garden vegetables and leafy greens (especially spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards). The bulk of their diet is made up of beans, greens, sweet potatoes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

2. Meat plays a very minor role in their diet

They do eat meat sparingly in 4 of the 5 blue zones (all except Loma Linda, California), but meat is frequently a side dish or reserved for special occasions. Averaging out consumption across the blue zones, people eat about 2 ounces or less of meat about 5 times per month.

3. Fish is eaten in moderation

In most blue zones people eat small amounts of fish (3 ounces or less), up to 3 times per week. The most common fish eaten are small…

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Andrew Merle

Follow me for stories about health, fitness, and nutrition. Read more at andrewmerle.com. Contact me at andrew.merle@gmail.com