NYS Certified Nutritionist

Blue Zones Eating Habits Linked to Longevity

Eating like the populations of the Blue Zones may enable many more of us to live in good health until the age of 100. Six places in the world hold the distinction of having populations living to 100, and beyond, in relatively good health. They are: Okinawa [an island near Japan], Sardinia [an island near Italy], Ikaria [an island near Greece], Loma Linda [a city in California], the Nicoyan Peninsula in Costa Rica, and Singapore.

Below are the eating styles these populations teach us.

1. Consume one cup of beans [legumes- like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, etc.] per day. Tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy nuts all count too.

2. Make 90-95% of your food choices plant-based, limiting animal protein sources to one very small serving daily…like 1 egg, 1 cup milk. Limit flesh foods [poultry, red meats, pork] to one very small portion [2-3 oz.] weekly, in a pasta, soup, stew, or stir fry. Avoid luncheon meats [bologna and salami], sausages, and hotdogs.

3. Eat up to 3 oz. of fish a day. If you prefer, you could eat 6 or more oz. in a day, limiting the number of times per week you consume fish.

4. Humans are the only mammals that consume milk after they are weaned. People of the Blue Zones limit their consumption of dairy foods. Choose plant based milks fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

5. Reduce intake of added sugars, like those in cereals, soft drinks, desserts, and candies.

6. Enjoy 1-2 oz. of nuts daily. This means tree nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, etc. Peanuts grow under ground, and are legumes, not nuts. Brazil nuts [with large amounts of selenium, a heavy metal], coconuts and macadamia nuts [have large amounts of saturated fats] should be eaten with caution.

7. Select whole grain or sourdough breads.

8. Avoid alcohol. If you decide to imbibe, drink daily 1 small serving if you are a woman, and no more than 2 small servings if you are a man.

9. Finally, the Japanese practice eating until they are 80% full. This is a new concept for Americans, but it is a terrific idea.

You can find much information about the Blue Zones with videos, recipes, and interviews by googling the journalist/author Dan Buettner, and the term Blue Zones. May their inspiration spread to us all, improving the quality and length of many of our lives.

Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, Capital Region of New York State