The longest-lived people run on a high-carb diet, and it’s a big part of their secret to living to 100 – Dan Buettner – Blue Zones

Sorry, high-fat keto fans, but people who live in the world’s five “Blue Zones” all eat tons of beans and grains, and very little meat or dairy.

Dan Buettner grew up in Minnesota during the 1960s, where he was fed a high-carb diet of bright yellow macaroni and cheese and sweaty red hot dogs wrapped inside flaky croissants.

“We didn’t know better,” he said.

But when the cyclist and storyteller started traveling around the globe, and into the homes of people in locations where elders routinely live to see their 100th birthday in good health — the world’s “Blue Zones,” as he calls them — he noticed something distinct about the ways that they were all eating.

The fare was nothing like his Midwestern childhood diet of processed foods, but Buettner noticed that each Blue Zone kitchen did have a few staple ingredients in common. Like his own meal plans, they were all fairly high in carbohydrates, but these Blue Zone diets centered on carbs of a different kind.

“The four pillars of every longevity diet in the world are whole grains, greens, nuts, and beans,” Buettner said. “When you crunch the numbers, it’s very clear that it’s a 90% to 100% plant-based, very-high-carbohydrate diet. About 65% carbs, but not simple carbs like muffins and cakes — complex carbs.”

Buettner’s chronicled some of his favorite recipes from each of those regions in a new Blue Zones cookbook, featuring dishes from Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.

People who live to 100 tend to eat lots of beans

blue zones diet
Staples of the Blue Zones include hearty soups filled with beans and herbs; fermented breads like sourdough; and wine. 
Westend61 via Getty Images

Whether the cuisine is from the sandy western shores of Costa Rica or industrial church kitchens in California, it is loaded with beans.

Beans are a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber food that many dieters have recently criticized, as they’re nearly impossible to eat on high-fat, low-carb diets like the trendy keto plan.

“You can get very successful with a diet if you tell people they can eat what they like to eat — meat or cheese or eggs and all that,” he said. “I draw from people who’ve achieved the health outcomes we want. And I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re eating about a cup of beans a day.”

His favorite bean dish is a Greek “longevity stew,” loaded with fennel, black-eyed peas, olive oil, tomato, and garlic.

The diet plan lines up with much of the scientific research suggesting that people who eat more vegetables and other plants while consuming little to no processed or red meat are less likely to die earlier (and more likely to have healthier hearts) than people who routinely fuel up on animal products.

Blue Zoners don’t go to the gym, and they rarely eat meat

In the Blue Zones, there are no banned foods. Instead, the environments people live in promote their good health almost effortlessly. There’s no weighing ingredients or worrying about the amounts of carbs, protein, and fat to include in a day’s meals.

Yet there are certain things that people in Blue Zones don’t eat very often. Chief among the rarities are dishes high in saturated fats and sugars, including meats, dairy, and desserts.

On average, people living in the Blue Zones eat meat about five times a month. It’s usually a three- to four-ounce cut of pork, smaller than an iPhone.

When it comes to bread, Blue Zoners tend to favor fermented varieties like sourdough over plain white yeasted slices, and they pair small amounts of pasta and grains with other staple ingredients like fresh greens or beans.

“When you combine a grain and a bean, you get a whole protein,” Buettner said. This means that, much like any meaty dish, a plant-based meal can feature all the essential amino acids that help the body grow and repair itself, but “without the saturated fat, without the hormones,” he said.

In addition to focusing on plant-based foods, people in the Blue Zones also tend to cherish the importance of lifelong friendships, move around consistently each day (every 20 minutes or so), and live with purpose. These built-in support systems are key components of longevity too, Buettner believes, and just as important as the good food.

“We keep beating this dead horse of diets and exercise and supplements,” he said. “It’s Einstein’s definition of insanity.”

Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner. 
Crystal Cox/Business Insider

If you’d like to try the Blue Zones eating routine, Buettner suggests finding a few plant-based recipes that you really like and making it a habit to cook them for yourself again and again. None of the recipes in his book include any meat or eggs, and most shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to prepare.

“The secret to eating for 100 is to find the plant-based foods heavy with beans and grains and vegetables, and learn how to like them,” Buettner said. “If you eat a Blue Zones diet religiously, it’s probably worth eight to 10 extra years of life expectancy over a standard American diet. You take those years and you average them back into your life? It gives you about two hours a day to cook.”

Announcing Quinyatta Mumford's 2020 Nutrition Classes!

Click here to sign up!

Hello, I’m Quinyatta!

Your Certified Health Education Specialist.   Although I hold a Masters of Public Health with an emphasis in Community Health and I am in the process of earning a Doctorate in Public Health, my true superpowers come from my personal journey to health.  

In 2013, I made the decision that I wanted to live. I mean really live the life that God destined me to have.  I had reached the lowest point in my life and my highest weight. I was blessed to not be on any medication, but as a health educator, I knew that without a behavior modification — medication was going to be my destiny. My then 9-year presented me with a challenge. She wanted to climb Pinnacle Mountain for her 10th birthday. At my size, there was no way that I was going to climb anything. But because IamSHE and SHEisME I committed to a regular training schedule and a liquid diet. Over the course of 6-months, I dropped the initial 50 pounds.

Today, I am  175 pounds lighter. Over the next year, I plan to reach my final goal. I want to take the last mile of my journey with women who have been or are where I am….striving to achieve optimal health while maintaining curves. I do not have a desire to be skinny…I desire to be healthy…the healthiest version of me that is possible.  

Join us for the Curvy Consciousness movement as we empower women of all shapes, sizes, and colors to embrace their feminine shape and take back their health. You do not have to be a size 2, 4, 6, or 8 to be healthy. Girl, embrace your curves.  #SizeHealthy

https://www.facebook.com/mumfordandassociates/

VEGAN 2019 – The Film

VEGAN 2019 – The Film is sponsored by abillionveg – where you can find reviews and recommendations for vegan-friendly food, restaurants and products near you: http://bit.ly/2019vegan Subtitles in English, Spanish and Chinease. Narrated by Helen Millar: https://www.helenmillar.co.uk/

PLANT BASED NEWS

Would You Consider Having No Chairs In Your House? Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

The latest #FBLM podcast 2019 wrap up is all about the BODY and is OUT NOW! In it I’ve re-shared some of the highlights from guests getting us to rethink the way we currently view exercise – from walking to running, using nature as a cue and finding what motivates us in order to create sustainable habits.

In this clip, Tony Riddle shares why he has no chairs in his house. As Tony puts it… we are a species destined to be innately empowered, wild and connected with a fundamental physical need for movement and play – yet in our modern lives we spend 90% of our time indoors, and much of this sat in chairs, something that Tony believes is compromising our posture and natural movement.

Listen to the full episode with more from Vassos Alexander, Mithu Storoni, Shane O’Mara, Sanjay Rawal, Linda Geddes and Ross Edgeley at http://drchatterjee.com/90.