Healthy Aging Lessons from the Blue Zones + Blue Zones Recipes


Learn easy methods to dwell longer and reverse growing old signs and continual illnesses via way of life modifications primarily based on learnings from the well-known Blue Zones, plus Blue Zones Recipes for Longevity. 

There’s no underselling that one among our species’ best accomplishments within the final 100 years has been humanity’s elevated life expectancy. Improved sanitation, training, and the wonders of recent drugs have performed an incredible job at prolonging our particular person lifespans. While probably the most susceptible in society are taken care of higher than ever, true longevity stays elusive, nevertheless. Centenarians have all the time been uncommon, throughout cultures and throughout time—so what’s their secret? It seems to be all about our way of life—how we dwell each single day. 

Eating extra beans is linked with longer lifespan within the Blue Zones. Try this recipe for Black Eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Onions.

Discovering the Blue Zones

In 2004, National Geographic journalist Dan Buettner and his devoted workforce traveled the world, searching for to find communities whereby lots of their members achieved that elusive aim of longevity: they recognized 5 areas the world over which supplied superb environments for producing long-lived people, lots of whom remained wholesome and powerful properly into their aged years. Dan and his workforce took out their pens and marked these spots in distinctive coloration— “Blue Zones”—and the remainder is historical past. Each area homes a vibrant tradition with robust ties to conventional lifeways, and although they could differ in sure philosophies, they’re united by the important thing hallmarks of wholesome residing: common train, robust and supportive interpersonal networks, and, in fact, a food plan primarily based on plant-based meals. Want to dive deeper into Blue Zones? Check out their official web site right here. And don’t overlook to look at the Netflix TV sequence primarily based on the Blue Zones: Live to 100. And learn my interview with Dan Buettner right here

Power Nine—Reverse Engineering Aging

Buettner’s workforce recognized 9 traits of the Blue Zones way of life, pictured above: 

  • Move Naturally. Blue zone communities exercised naturally via gardening and strolling to work. 
  • Purpose. Knowing your sense of function in life provides years to your life. 
  • Downshift. Reducing stress is a necessary technique for lowering irritation. 
  • 80% Rule. Eating solely till you’re feeling 80% full is a healthful weight technique. 
  • Plant Slant. Including extra plant proteins is a cornerstone of centenarian diets—small parts of meat are eaten on common solely 5 instances per 30 days. 
  • Wine at 5. With some exceptions, Blue Zones communities take pleasure in reasonable, common wine consumption. 
  • Belong. Having a way of belonging to a neighborhood, embody faith-based packages, improve life expectancy. 
  • Loved Ones First. People who dwell longer have households that assist them as they age. 
  • Right Tribe. A social community that helps a wholesome way of life is a crucial longevity issue. 
In the Loma Linda Blue Zones, this recipe for Haystacks from my e book California Vegan is a favourite.

Blue Zone Communities

The 5 unique Blue Zone communities had been recognized as: 

  • Loma Linda, United States
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Ikaria, Greece
In a classroom in Japan with elementary college students studying about wholesome consuming.

Eating within the Blue Zones

As a plant-based dietitian and journalist, I’ve had the superb alternative to go to the entire Blue Zone places. In truth, I lived in a Blue Zones neighborhood, having studied vitamin at Loma Linda University and residing in that neighborhood for a number of years. My dad and mom practiced a lot of the 9 guidelines (above) for longevity, and each lived healthfully till they had been 89. I apply all 9 of the foundations for longevity in my very own life, and have managed to remain very wholesome (together with preventing off a bout of most cancers). That’s why I’m sharing my very own private insights into the 5 Blue Zones, in addition to my favourite recipes from every area. 

I used to be thrilled to talk on the International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition in Loma Linda.

Loma Linda, United States

The solely unique Blue Zone recognized within the U.S. was in Loma Linda, California, the place I studied vitamin a few years in the past. When one sometimes thinks of wholesome California residing, sure imagery tends to spring to thoughts. One may think mountaineering in Northern California’s sprawling forests, a day break within the rolling hills of its wine nation, or an lively way of life in a sunny SoCal seaside city. Interestingly sufficient, the U.S.’s one and solely blue zone is as an alternative nestled deep inside San Bernardino County, and it’s a neighborhood the place many keep a devoted method to wholesome residing. Loma Linda’s residents, lots of whom adhere to the Seventh-Day Adventist religion, type a tight-knit neighborhood that locations a big emphasis on vegetarian consuming. The surrounding area’s many mountaineering trails and pristine wilderness undoubtedly make it simpler to dwell a holistically wholesome way of life as properly. For Loma Linda’s most well being acutely aware, beans, nuts, greens, and complete grains are the inspiration of wholesome residing. Learn extra in regards to the Loma Linda Blue Zones food plan right here

Check out the next recipes impressed by Loma Linda’s Blue Zone:

Home-made yeast rolls had been a particular deal with at Loma Linda. Made with complete grain flour, and decrease in added sugars, they had been each comforting and wholesome and had been usually on the menu Friday mornings to rejoice the approaching weekend. This custom helped encourage the creation of my recipe for Sunshine Whole Wheat Orange Rolls
Hearty, retro bean dishes had been all the time on the Loma Linda menu, together with this recipe for Best Vegetarian Baked Beans.
Savory loaves fabricated from grains, nuts, and greens had been one other frequent menu merchandise within the Loma Linda Blue Zones. Try this recipe for Savory Tarragon Mushroom Loaf with Onion Gravy

Okinawa, Japan

For a big a part of its historical past, Okinawa was part of a definite territory, with its personal language: the Ryukyu kingdom. To today, Ryukyuans are fiercely pleased with their heritage and conventional lifeways; naturally, this extends to their meals tradition. Okinawan longevity is world-renowned and some extent of pleasure for its individuals. Even among the many 4 different Blue Zones, Okinawans are notable for the standard of produce of their wealthy diets. Local superfoods just like the vitamin-packed goya (Okinawan bitter melon) are the important thing substances to the Okinawan recipe for longevity. Another vegetable types an enormous bulk of the standard Okinawan food plan—It’s no secret that Okinawans love their candy potatoes! According to, the Okinawan food plan consists of 67% candy potatoes! You actually can by no means get sufficient of them. For a beloved Okinawan favourite, why not attempt probably the most iconic Okinawan dish? Chanpurū is the identify of their beloved vegetable stir-fry, usually served with tofu. With its identify coming from a loanword that means “mixed”, it’s unsurprisingly a versatile dish—you would attempt Dan Buettner’s vegan model, or use bitter melon when you’re searching for that genuine contact.

Check out the next Japanese Blue Zones recipes right here:

Enjoy Japanese candy potatoes on this easy preparation, Sesame Soy Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Kabocha squash is a favourite vegetable in Japanese diets—do that recipe for Easy Kabocha Squash Soup with Miso.
Enjoy these vegetable brown wealthy sushi rolls right here
The three sisters—beans, squash, and maize—are an essential a part of Costa Rican meals traditions.

Nicoya, Costa Rica

On the gorgeous blue Pacific shore of Costa Rica lies the Nicoya peninsula. The namesake for that peninsula is an outdated city within the coronary heart of the territory. Consistent with different Blue Zones, the individuals of Nicoya dwell in communities that place excessive worth on social capital and interpersonal relationships. The “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash—are the staple trio that supplied the spine for conventional diets throughout the Americas, with Nicoya being no exception. These three “sisters” are synonymous with Mesoamerican food plan, and have historically been planted collectively as a result of they work extremely properly when farmed alongside each other. Check out the next recipes impressed by the Costa Rica Blue Zones. 

Learn How to Make Home-made Corn Tortillas that includes maize right here. 
This recipe for Three Sisters Chili is impressed by the story of the three sisters. 
Include pumpkin and black beans in these Spicy Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers
Enjoying a captivating village in Italy. 

Sardinia, Italy

Even in comparison with the remainder of Europe, Sardinia is notable for its complicated archaeological report and its dedication to sustaining conventional methods of life. Though Italian is the principle spoken language at present, identical to the case with Okinawa and Japan, Sardinia boasts a definite conventional tradition, and the Sardinian language is just not a dialect of Italian, however one other Romance language in its personal proper. For that motive, it’s no shock that Sardinians are simply as pleased with their distinct tradition and its historical roots. In the Sardinian countryside, the pastoral life remains to be practiced with nice care. Pasta, gnocchi, wines, bean vegetable soups, and breads are very conventional dishes in Sardinia. For a very timeless dish, attempt Dan Buettner’s spin on a Sardinian flatbread that’s been eaten for millennia, and retains extraordinarily properly: pane carasau. And try a few of my favourite recipes impressed by Sardinia, Italy. 

Pasta dishes usually function beans and greens, comparable to this simple recipe for Puglian Fava Beans with Greens.
Try this Italian recipe for Herb Focaccia
This recipe for Mediterranean Heirloom Bean Soup is just like minestrone soups loved in Sardinia. 
Eating an incredible meal in Greece with the household. 

Ikaria, Greece

The closing Blue Zone lies inconspicuously within the coronary heart of the Aegean Sea. Ikaria is perched at a historic crossroads, however its nature as an island lends itself to the upkeep of its conventional cultural heritage. The island’s tough, rocky terrain retains its residents lively, even at present. You don’t should be health-obsessed to know of the Mediterranean food plan’s distinctive advantages—the residents of Ikaria eat a diversified and balanced food plan primarily based on Mediterranean staples: pulses, fragrant herbs, and dishes made with olive oil. The iconic dish of Ikaria is splendid and plant-based, and has gained fame all through all of Greece. Whether you name it a casserole, a vegetable stew, or one thing else totally, Soufiko is a summertime delight that’s positive to please each coronary heart and soul. Try this Blue zones recipe for Soufiko right here. And try a few of my favourite Greek recipes: 

This rustic bean dish, Cretan Gigantes Beans, could be loved in lots of islands of Greece.
A typical function in Greek delicacies is an easy Greek Salad.
This easy puree of yellow cut up peas is served with onions, capers, and olives and bread. Try this recipe for Greek Fava

Written by John Caldas with Sharon Palmer

Photos by Sharon Palmer

For extra data on plant-based diets all over the world, try:

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