Beans, greens, wholegrains and nuts - the key to a long and healthy life

By: Content adapted by Judy Davie The Food Coach, from TODAY by Jake Whitman and Bianca Seidman

Dan Buettner and his team of researchers travelled the world to discover hotspots of human health and vitality which he called Blue Zones. He wanted to discover what it was about these areas that led to such a strikingly high number of individuals living well into their 100's.

Where are the blue zones?

Ikaria, Greece;
Okinawa, Japan
Ogliastra, Sardinia, Italy
The community of Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica's

His discovery led his to write two books, The Blue Zone of Happiness and The Blue Zone Kitchen; a book full of recipes using beans, greens, wholegrains and nuts.

The commonalities between people living in these Blue Zones was more than just eating a predominantly plant-based diet consisting of beans, greens, wholegrains and nuts, but it was not, as you might think, living a stress-free life. The communities renowned for longevity which Buettner studied have all lived through their fair share of hardship. The main factor, other than eating, was human connection.
According to Buettner, if you don't have at least two friends you can count on a bad day, it shaves about eight years from your life expectancy.

Buettner's travels took him to the remote island
Ikaria, Greece where people outlive the average American by over 10 years. There, 97 percent of the population are over 70 and he could only find 3 recorded cases of dementia. Good friends and a diet rich in wild dandelion and chickpeas seems to be their secret.

Travel to the Nicoya Pennisula, Costa Rica where on average 1 in 250 people live to 100, Buettner found the local diet to consist of rice, beans and tortillas; mostly plant-based and in moderation. A commonality in centenarians across the world is that none of them are overweight.

In Loma Linda, California home to one of the highest concentrations of Seventh Day Adventists most of the church members eat a completely plant-based diet and never touch alcohol or cigarettes. Diet is part of their religion and includes, beans, nuts, slow-cooked oats, whole wheat bread and real soy milk. The diet seems to work as compared to the rest of
Americans they live about seven to 10 years longer.

Having friends to turn to, social interaction and a good diet full of beans, greens, grains and nuts are the key elements to a long and happy life.


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