I hope you’ve been enjoying learning about Blue Zones lifestyles and picking up a few ideas to try out yourself.

Although Blue Zones communities, other than the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda California, aren’t vegetarian, they eat meat infrequently, perhaps just four or five times a month, and then only small serves which means they largely eat a plant-based diet.

Although experts don’t agree on whether a vegetarian diet is healthier or leads to a longer life, most do agree that we eat too much meat, especially red meat and processed meat, and too few vegetables.

If you’re wondering what are the top Blue Zones longevity foods, here’s a guide:
Ikaria, Greece: potatoes, beans and legumes (especially garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, lentils), wild greens, some fruit, small amounts of fish and goat meat, goat’s milk, honey, feta cheese, lemons and herbs like sage and marjoram which they use in their daily tea.
Okinawa, Japan: seaweed, turmeric, sweet potato, bitter melons, tofu, garlic, brown rice, green tea and shitake mushrooms.
Sardinia, Italy – goat’s milk, sheep’s cheese, flat breads, sourdough bread, barley, fennel, fava beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, almonds, milk thistle tea and wine from Grenache grapes.
Loma Linda, California: the Seventh Day Adventists follow a biblical diet based on grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables and drink only water. Some eat small amounts of meat and fish. Refined sugar is taboo. Their top foods include avocados, nuts, beans, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and salmon, for those who eat fish.
Nicoya, Costa Rica: beans, corn including corn tortillas,  squash, rice, papayas, yams, and bananas.

Nuts are also eaten regularly: a study of one Blue Zones communities showed that people who ate nuts at least five times a week had about half the rate of heart disease than those who ate them rarely or not at all. And a Harvard University study backs this up.

So, how can you eat more like someone in a Blue Zone?

  • Eat 4-6 vegetable servings daily – The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend five serves of vegetables a day. Blue Zones diets always include at least two vegetables at every meal. Aim to make half of your plate vegetables, and enjoy a wide variety of different coloured veg.
  • Even if you don’t have the time or space for a vegetable garden, consider growing just a few things in containers on a balcony or windowsill, including sprouts, greens and spices.
  • Limit your meat intake – Blue Zones researchers recommend limiting meat to twice a week, and your portion size to a deck of cards, or no more than 120grams.
  • Eat more beans and legumes/pulses e.g. lentils, chick peas, and all sorts of beans. These are the cornerstone of Blue Zones diets and can be used in curries, casseroles, lasagnes, home made burgers, soups, stir fries, dips and salads – even desserts!
  • Eat nuts – the Dietitian Association of Australia recommends one serve a day; that’s about 30g which equals 20 almonds, 20 hazelnuts, 15 pecans, 10 Brazil nuts, or 15 cashews. Sprinkle chopped nuts onto salads and stir fries, even porridge or cereal, or use nut butter in smoothies or sandwiches – just go for the salt and sugar free varieties or make your own. Be aware that while nuts are great for your health they do contain fat so eating too many can add to weight gain.

If you would like help implementing some of these tips, or staying motivated and inspired to achieve your health and wellness goals, please get in touch.

Source: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest.

P.S. There’s another community in Mount Athos Greece, a community of monks which has been studies for about 10 years who enjoy similarly low rates of disease to Blue Zones: read more about them on my blog here and here.