As promised, this week we dive into the Blue Zone diets (blue zone meaning concentrated areas with high numbers of people aged 100+ years old). While we are aware the diet topic is touchy in the US with conflicting diets like Keto to Mediterranean or even vegetarian or vegan, we are not here to tell you what’s right or wrong – we simply want to educate you on what centenarians around the world eat every day. In different locations, the food varies but researchers have found basic guidelines that these blue zones follow. Some rules are common knowledge by now, like avoiding processed meats or eating more vegetables, but others are quite surprising!
Below is a list of these guidelines, certain ones with detail and others self-explanatory (the attached article is available at the bottom with details on every guideline).
- Plant Slant! Try to get 95% of your food coming from a plant or plant products.
- Retreat From Meat. Shocking, I know. Centenarians eat meat no more than twice a week. But…
- Fish is Fine! Eat up to three ounces of fish daily. I jumped for joy reading this guideline.
- Diminish Dairy. Minimize your consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products such as cheese, cream and butter. My stomach made an angry growl at me while writing this guideline – but for my fellow cheese lovers, aim for feta or goat cheese when you’re experiencing cravings. For butter lovers, olive oil is one of the best oils out there and replaces butter in everything I cook! For milk or cream lovers, luckily we live in a day and age where plant-based alternatives are accessible almost everywhere.
- Occasional Eggs. Centenarians eat eggs an average of two to four times a week.
- Daily Dose of Beans! Eat a half cup of cooked beans daily. Beans are the cornerstone of every blue zone diet studied.
- Slash Sugar. No more than 7 added teaspoons of sugar each day.
- Snack on Nuts! Two handfuls of nuts per day.
- Sour on Bread. Replace common bread with sourdough or 100% whole wheat.
- Go Wholly Whole! Eat foods that are recognizable for what they are – cut processed foods out.
- Eat Super Blue Foods. Integrating at least three of the following into your daily diet will make sure you’re eating plenty of whole foods – beans, greens, sweet potatoes, nuts, olive oil, oats, barley, fruits, green or herbal teas, and turmeric.
- Blue Zone Beverage Rules – coffee for breakfast, tea in the afternoon, wine at 5, and water all day. Never soda of any kind.
Assuming you’re as overwhelmed as I was when I first read these rules, they have developed a system that makes it much easier to try and incorporate some of these rules into your daily diet. They call it “Four Always and Four to Avoid”.
Four Always (four important foods that are easy to include for most people): 100% Whole wheat bread or sourdough, Nuts, Beans, and your favorite fruit. Four to Avoid: Sugar-sweetened beverages, salty snacks, processed meats, and packaged sweets.
I encourage you to read this article and learn even more! There are fun facts about olive oil, little known tips like frozen vegetables being more nutritious than fresh vegetables in certain cases, and easy ways to try bringing this blue zone diet into your home!