Here are the “5 pillars of a longevity diet”

There are some daily practices that can increase your chances of living to age 90 and beyond – and a healthy diet is one of the most important factors on the list.

In his new book, The Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100, Dan Buettner describes “identified the longest-lived areas of the world (blue zones) and examined the patterns and lifestyles that seem to explain the longevity of their populations.”

Blue zones are defined by Büttner as population groups with the highest life expectancies up to 100 – or centenarians – and the highest life expectancy in middle age.

These groups around the world include churches in Japan, Italy, Greece, Costa Rica, and even a Seventh-day Adventist church in California.

“People in the blue zones live up to a decade longer than the average American and spend a fraction of what costs the most [of] the rest of us do health care,” Büttner wrote.

Of course, there are several factors to consider. Many of these communities have more options for walking from place to place and tend to experience a lot less stress than most Americans.

But after analyzing over 150 diet surveys that tracked “the daily eating habits of people in the blue zones over the past 80 years,” these were the foods most commonly found in their diets.

“The Five Pillars of Long-Life Nutrition”

Büttner found that 65% of blue zone food intake came from complex carbohydrates and these foods are “the five pillars of a longevity diet on four continents”:

  1. Whole grains like corn, rice, and oats (complex carbohydrates)
  2. Green
  3. Tubers, including potatoes and sweet potatoes (complex carbohydrates)
  4. nuts
  5. Beans (complex carbohydrates)

2 quick recipes using the healthiest foods

Here are two recipes you can try that contain a combination of the foods that the healthiest communities eat:

cotton candy

Succotash is a staple in indigenous communities dating back to the 1620s. Although this version of the meal is commonly paired with fish and other meats, it’s entirely plant-based.

  • 2 pounds of cooked, husked corn
  • 8 ounces dried cranberry beans (or Jacobs beans or other similar beans), soaked and cooked until tender
  • Salt
  • You can add beets, carrots, squash, cabbage, onions and more.

Hoppin’ John with Carolina Gold Rice and Sapelo Red Peas

Although Carolina Gold Rice is a West African variety, this dish was first prepared by enslaved people in America. Carolina Gold rice was used for many years “only to all but disappear after the Great Depression”. Luckily, it’s now sold in grocery stores and online.

  • 1 cup red sapelo peas
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups Carolina Gold rice

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