The blue zone diet potentially holds the key to adding years, if not decades, to your life. We give you the ground rules for starting on it today.
RELATED: Ageotypes: The 4 Different Ways People Age (According To Science)
In this article:
- Go 95%-100% Plant-Based
- Eat Minimal Meat
- Serve Fish Sparingly
- Consume Minimal Dairy
- Limit Eggs
- Eat Beans Daily
- Regulate Sugar Intake
- Eat Nuts as Snacks
- Choose Whole Wheat and Sourdough Bread
- Skip the Processed Foods for Whole Foods
- Hydrate with Water
- Drink Coffee, Tea, and Wine in Moderation
- Eat These Foods in Your Blue Zone Diet
The Blue Zone Diet 101: Eat Right, Live Long
Click here to jump to the infographic.
What Is the Blue Zone Diet?
The blue zone diet is comprised of 95% plant-based food. It is divided into main regions, each having a “special” type of “longevity” food consumed on a regular basis:
- Loma Linda
1. Go 95%-100% Plant-Based
The people who live in blue zones stick to a plant-based diet. They eat the fruits and vegetables of the season and put the excess in pickle jars for them to enjoy in later months.
The people living in the blue zones near the Mediterranean partake of olive oil religiously. Many plant oils, like olive oil, help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, keeping the heart healthy.
Identify which among the leafy greens and fruits are your favorites and put them in heavy rotation on your dinner table. Turning to a plant-based diet will add more years to your life than if you kept eating meat.
2. Eat Minimal Meat
The populations thriving in the blue zone areas use meat as side dishes most of the time and cook meat dishes mainly for celebrations and special occasions. Their cuisines also use meat for flavor and avoid making them the stars of the dishes.
A study conducted on 96,000 Adventist church members in Canada and the US showed plant-based eating or pesco-vegetarian eating promoted longevity compared to meat-based diets.
If you want to live longer, treat meat as a rare dish you can partake of as few as five times a month.
3. Serve Fish Sparingly
Many meat-eaters shift to eating fish when they start minding their cholesterol. Although the people in the blue zone areas, like Okinawans for example, do eat fish—they do so in moderation.
Eat fish 3 servings of 3 ounces for an entire week. This doesn’t mean you should go for something like fatty tuna or salmon as these varieties harbor concentrations of mercury or parasites.
Blue zone people eat the humbler species that other populations might consider chum. Sardines, cod, and anchovies find their way onto the dinner plates of the healthiest populations on earth.
4. Consume Minimal Dairy
If you’re going to eat dairy, you might as well make it goat milk or cheese. Goat milk contains lactase, which helps the body digest lactose properly.
Farm factories pump cows with hormones and antibiotics that find their way into your carton of mainstream cow’s milk. The body cannot deal with the lactose in cow’s milk and these result in gut issues later on.
5. Limit Eggs
Eggs earned a bad rep but even people eating blue zone diets eat around one to four a week. If you’re going to eat eggs, make sure they come from free-range chickens since they’ eat natural food.
Farm factory ones may contain hormones and antibiotics given to penned up chickens to ensure they produce a lot of eggs.
6. Eat Beans Daily
The blue zone diet incorporates beans in every meal daily. There’s wisdom in why people in the blue zones do this.
Beans, after all, are loaded with 70% complex carbohydrates, roughly 20% protein, and around 10% fiber. They give people in blue zones a steady release of energy for physical activity and feelings of fullness that last almost the entire day.
RELATED: 13 Simple Tips For Aging Gracefully (Self-Care Checklist) [INFOGRAPHIC]
7. Regulate Sugar Intake
Our addiction to sugar has led us to increased cases of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People in the blue zones also eat sugar but only if they’re the naturally occurring ones you’ll find in fruits.
They avoid added sugar or the ones we add to flavor our drinks. This also means they avoid sodas and candies.
8. Eat Nuts as Snacks
The elder populations in Sardinia and Ikaria eat nuts like almonds and it’s potentially one of the reasons for their longevity. Nuts contain vitamins and minerals like selenium, folate, magnesium, alpha-linoleic acid, and vitamin E.
It’s a good reason to start making those trail mixes as your go-to blue zone diet snacks.
9. Choose Whole Wheat and Sourdough Bread
The body instantly breaks white bread down into sugars, causing a spike in blood glucose, and potentially causing diabetes if it happens long enough. People who partake of a blue zone diet eat bread made from whole grains which pack more nutrients like magnesium and selenium.
If you’re going to eat bread, make sure you’re eating sourdough since it contains good bacteria called lactobacilli.
10. Skip the Processed Foods for Whole Foods
When we say processed food, we mean foods that their manufacturers break down and remake like chips, candies, processed meat, and pastries. These items usually contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, and preservatives that will negatively impact your longevity.
Stick to whole unprocessed food like vegetables and fruits and learn how to prepare and cook them for yourself.
11. Hydrate with Water
You should drink around 7-8 glasses of water a day to keep yourself from being dehydrated. Drinking water will help with blood flow and protect you from blood clots.
12. Drink Coffee, Tea, and Wine in Moderation
People in blue zones avoid drinking soft drinks because of their copious amounts of sugar. Instead, they limit themselves to drinking coffee, green tea, and moderate alcohol consumption of red wine.
Taken in moderation, these drinks help protect neurological function, increase metabolism, and kill inflammation.
13. Eat These Foods in Your Blue Zone Diet
- Dark Cruciferous Vegetables – Vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, and spinach earn their spots in the blue zone diet for their high amounts of antioxidants and vitamins.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – Olive oil contains antioxidants, fatty acids, and mineral compounds that prevent or treat inflammation and chronic disease.
- Peas and Lentils – Legumes come loaded with nutrients and will leave you full longer, possibly keeping you away from junk food and aiding in weight loss.
- Blueberries – Blueberries help your body manage blood pressure better and protect your mind from the effects of aging.
- Barley – Barley, like oats, can help lower your cholesterol while supplying you with much-needed amino acids.
- Oatmeal – Go for steel-cut oats to lower high levels of cholesterol and prevent the hardening of the arteries.
- Nuts – Nuts offer themselves as the best kinds of snacks since they contain healthy fats and fiber.
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
Watch this video for quick tips on how to follow the blue zone diet.
Aside from adding years to your lifespan, a blue zone diet will also promote wellness as you age. Imagine what you can do if you had the lifespan and the vitality of the healthiest populations on the planet.
What do you think of the blue zone diet? Is it something doable for you? Give us your answers in the comments section below.