What do communities with the oldest populations have in common?
Blue Zones, a term popularized by Dan Buettner, is used to describe areas of the world where people are living the longest. He is the author of New York Times bestseller, The Blue Zones, along with many other subsequent writings. Blue Zones are communities where the life expectancy far surpasses the global average and people are generally living happy, healthy, and long lives. Dan, among others, study these areas of extreme longevity in order to bring their secrets to light and share them with the rest of the world. Seemingly disconnected and miles apart, these areas have been narrowed down into five communities.
- Okinawa, Japan
- Sardinia, Italy
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Ikaria, Greece
- Loma Linda, California
Even though these communities are spread far apart, they have several lifestyle commonalities. Some may be what you might expect. After all, there’s a reason we’re taught to engage in regular exercise, quit smoking, lead healthy social lives, and maintain a healthy diet. It seems like good common sense. But the specificity of these blue zone diets may surprise you. Some of the top commonalities include:
- Less Smoking
- Semi-Vegetarian Diets
- Physical Activity
The list item that has us excited is the legumes. If you are not familiar with the term, a legume is a part of the plant kingdom. The seed or fruit of this plant is also known as a pulse. A pulse is more commonly referred to as a bean. What the Blue Zone studies have deduced is that legumes are a common dietary staple for people who live long, healthy lives. Dan Buettner noted that blue zone residents eat around four times the amount of legumes than the average American.
It’s also important to note that legumes do not only include beans, though that is the most common association. The category also includes chickpeas, lentils, peas, and other ingredients that are found plentifully in a Chef Soraya bowl. There is a reason why we love legumes so much. Legumes are rich in fiber (both soluble and insoluble), protein, and other vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep going! These blue zone residents also get their fill of healthy seasonal fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains.
To learn more about the studies surrounding Blue Zones, check out one of Dan’s books. You might find some interesting tips from some of the oldest living communities on earth that you can incorporate into your own life.