A diet of ' blue zones live longer than what you consume.

A diet of ' blue zones ': live longer than what you consume.

Do you want to live a long, healthy life? So, I do. That's why I've been visiting places around the world for the past 15 years where people have done just that — places I called "blue zones." And I'm sure that the food people consume in these areas is a big part of their mystery.

I broke bread in the mountain villages on the Italian island of Sardinia, which sport some of the highest concentrations of Male centennials on the globe. On the Japanese islands of Okinawa, I sat down for tea with those who are among the longest-lived women in the world.

On the Greek island of Ikaria, where people are said to simply "forget about death," I have tucked into a hearty bowl of minestrone with friends who not only live long, healthy lives but also stay sharp to the very end and experience the lowest rate of dementia in the world.

On the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, I started the day with tortillas, beans and pico de gallo among country folk who are more likely to reach a safe 90 years of age than anyone else on the planet.

And in and around Loma Linda, California, I was invited to dinner with members of a thriving Seventh-day Adventist community whose vegetarian diet helped them live up to ten years longer than other Americans.

For most of their lives, the world's super-agents have fed their bodies organic, plant-based foods, such as leafy vegetables, tubers, nuts, beans, and whole grains. And they ate meat less than five times a month.

Beans, legumes, pulses–Plant-based diets underpin the health of the longest-lived, experts say. Beans, legumes, and pulses (such as lentils and chickpeas) are the most important dietary predictors of longevity compared to any other food. They're probably offering the best bang for your nutritional buck than any other food out there.

It may not come as a surprise to learn that a plant-based lifestyle underpins the world's longevity diet, but how those who eat this way manage to stay true to their diet is probably a greater mystery for the rest of us to discover.

Next month, after the holidays, most of us will decide to eat healthier. But by January 17, most of us will be back to our old habits— that's, according to data from Strava, a social network for athletes, based on more than 108 million usage entries.

That's because diets haven't worked for the vast majority of people for more than seven months. If you want to live a long, healthy life, the key is to do the right things — and avoid the wrong things — for decades, not a few months. Because there is no short-term fix when it comes to longevity.

Citizens in the blue zones have eaten the "right" food because the right food— beans, grains, and vegetables — was the cheapest and most available. Their kitchens were set up to cook them quickly, and they had time-honored recipes to make simple peasant food taste delicious. 

At the end of the day, their families gathered around this food: they sat at the table of people who ate the same meal. They weren't surrounded by people who roasted burgers and ate cheese puffs.

A healthy diet was just one part of a mutually supportive web of factors that promoted longevity in the blue zones. People have also benefited from having a circle of lifelong friends, A strong sense of purpose, an atmosphere that propelled them into continual movement, and regular routines that eased stress.

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