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Ultimate List of Best Food to Eat for Longevity

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Discover the ultimate guide to the best, mostly plant-based foods for longevity, backed by longevity experts and guided by centenarians living in the blue zones. During the survey, we looked at the nutritional and medicinal values ​​of food. We were also interested in what people in the so-called blue zone eat and how we can learn from it. 

Everyone would like to live a long and healthy life. According to this study, Genetics play a role, but only about 25 percent.

Eating for longevity is not about one particular diet, but certain eating habits and foods have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer and promote healthy aging. It’s an entire lifestyle made up of healthy habits that include proper nutrition, regular exercise, social connection, and stress reduction. 

This Ultimate Guide includes a list of foods that can help you live longer and healthier.

Whole Grains

What does it mean to eat for longevity?

Longevity foods” are associated with longer life and better health, reducing disease risk and improving health indicators.

For example, eating mostly plants and whole foods may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in Nutrients in September 2020. Additionally, research from the Journal of Nutrition in March 2021 indicates that consuming whole grains could decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Thus, our list of foods will include nutrient-dense foods, especially plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, with smaller amounts of high-quality animal foods such as omega-3-rich fish.

In addition, we have been inspired by Dan Buettner’s book Blue Zone American Kitchen Recipes. He identified “blue zones” where people live the longest and studied their lifestyles to understand the factors contributing to their longevity.

Blue zones are regions characterized by high rates of centenarians and longer middle-aged life expectancies. These include communities in Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, Nicoya, Costa Rica, and Loma Linda, California.

Buettner says people in blue zones live up to ten years longer than the average American and spend considerably less on healthcare. Adopting some of their healthy eating patterns into your daily life allows you to live better and longer.

Ultimate List of Best Food to Eat for Longevity

The best food for longevity

The most food for lengevity consists of plant foods, aim for 95-100 percent. A study by Stanford Medicine showed that following a plant-based diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol for four weeks led to greater reductions in LDL and total cholesterol levels compared to a standard low-fat diet. In the blue zones, people consume a wide range of garden vegetables in season and preserve the surplus by pickling or drying them for later use.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are especially beneficial for longevity. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, a family physician and author, these vegetables are packed with anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-aging nutrients. They’re also rich in magnesium, which supports over 600 enzyme reactions in the body. Additionally, cruciferous veggies are an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin essential for DNA methylation, which influences our longevity genes. 

These include foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, and turnip belong to the cruciferous family

This Politiki salad is a healthy version of coleslaw.

They also include the edible roots of various plants from the mustard family such as arugula, Chinese cabbage, horseradish, kohlrabi radish, watercress, and wasabi are also included in this family. They are consumed in the diet in the form of a fresh salad, steamed, or vegetable meal.

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, belong to the cruciferous vegetable group. However, some experts on living a long life highlight these greens as especially beneficial. They’re packed with fiber and plant chemicals like folate, which help you maintain a healthy heart. A greater intake of salads, leafy greens, or raw vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and several cancers.

They include collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, arugula, spinach or lettuce.

What does it mean to eat for longevity?

Fatty Fish with a high omega-3, omega-6, and vitamin B12 content

Fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, and mackerel provide important protein and omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA. Having salmon twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease like heart attacks, arrhythmia, strokes, high blood pressure, and high triglyceride levels. The omega-3 fats found in fatty fish also help fight inflammation, which is the main reason behind many chronic and age-related illnesses.

This fregola ai frutti di mare from Sardinia is packed with fatty acids.

Avocado is also rich in potassium and is associated with reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of cardiovascular events. (8)

Try this avocado chutney to implement avocado in your diet more often.

In the blue zones worldwide, people often eat small, affordable fish like sardines, anchovies, and cod. These fish are less likely to contain high levels of mercury or other chemicals found in larger, more expensive fish. This psarosoupa Greek fish recipe with cod will surprise you with its simplicity and taste.

Whole Grains

Whole grains, like oats and brown rice, offer many benefits for living longer. A study from Harvard’s School of Public Health showed that eating whole grains lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. They can also lower your chances of getting heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers.

Rather than refined grains, The best approach is to choose unprocessed whole grains such as Amaranth, Kamut, Spelt, Barley Millet, Teff, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Triticale, Buckwheat, Rye, Wheat Berries, Bulgur, Oats Wild Rice, Corn Sorghum, Gold Rice

In blue zones like Ikaria and Sardinia, sourdough or whole bread is made from whole grains like wheat, rye, or barley. Whole grains contain nutrients like tryptophan, selenium, and magnesium. They also have more fiber than typical wheat flour. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

all plant-based oils are better choices than fats derived from animals. Olive oil is the most commonly used oil in the blue zones. Research indicates that consuming olive oil can boost good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol levels. In Ikaria, it was observed that consuming around six tablespoons of olive oil daily seemed to halve the risk of death for middle-aged individuals.

Reduce cow milk, and replace it with goat or sheep milk

In most blue zones diets, cow’s milk isn’t a big part, Goat’s and sheep’s milk products are part of the diets in Ikaria and Sardinia.

Interestingly, most goat’s milk is fermented into yogurt, sour milk, or cheese, which makes it easier to digest for many people since it contains lactase, an enzyme that helps digest lactose.

The best food for longevity

Fermented Foods

Kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, miso, yogurt, sauerkraut, and similar fermented foods provide beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut. These bacteria can enhance the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve gut microbe diversity, all of which contribute to longevity. 

People in blue zones use fermentation—an ancient way to make nutrients bio-available—in the tofu, sourdough bread, wine, and pickled vegetables they eat. And they rarely ingest artificial preservatives.

This Japanese mazesoba is packed with nutrients and made with tofu.

Tree Nuts and Seeds

Recent research suggests that almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and walnuts are rich in protein and fiber and help in reducing visceral fat and enhancing insulin sensitivity.

In blue zones people consume two handfuls of nuts per day. Almonds in Ikaria and Sardinia, pistachios in Nicoya, and all nuts with the Adventists. The Adventist Health Study 2 found that nut eaters outlive non–nut eaters by an average of two to three years.

Berries

Berries generally have a low glycemic load, meaning they don’t cause significant spikes in blood sugar, thus reducing the risk of diabetes. Additionally, berries are rich in antioxidants, aiding in cell repair, including those in the heart. Due to these benefits, berries make a great option for dessert when you desire something sweet.

Dark chocolate

Slush sugar, consume only 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of added sugar daily. Instead eat Dark chocolate as a delicious treat. It has more antioxidants than even blueberries,it has also been linked to brain health.

However, look for dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75% or higher.

Legumes

Lentils, peas, chickpeas, and beans are plant-based sources of protein and fiber. They can help stabilize blood sugar, reduce cholesterol levels, promote regularity, and lower the risk of colon cancer.

Into this category fall kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, black beans, lima beans, fava beans, soy beans), dried peas (chickpeas, black-eyed peas, pigeon peas, split peas), and lentils. Edamame, which is the soybean in the pod, is also counted in this subgroup (even though it is eaten fresh and not dried).

Beans are highly valued in blue zones and are a staple in every longevity diet worldwide. For instance, black beans are popular in Nicoya, while lentils, chickpeas, and white beans are favored in the Mediterranean region. Okinawans often consume soybeans. Make sure to consume at least half a cup of cooked beans daily. Try this chickpea soup from the Ikaria region.

One of the most popular dishes in Costa Rica is Casado, featuring black beans, rice, cilantro, and chicken breasts.

Tomatoes, Carrot, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a heart-healthy antioxidant that plays a crucial role in preventing cardiovascular disease. Additionally, they are a good source of vitamin C, which supports immune function and aids in wound healing.

Tomatoes, Carrot, Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes contain carotenoids that protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals and premature aging. (5)

Recipes with carrot that are easy to make include this Asian carrot salad or carrot fries.

I like to turn pumpkins into pumpkin hummus and use the seeds to make roasted pepitas.

Search for ripe tomatoes that have their peak flavor and nutritional value when picked fresh off the vine, just like in the summer in Ikaria. My favorite recipes with ripe tomatoes is yemista.

Sources:

  1. https://www.onepeloton.com/blog/longevity-foods/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/health/nutrition/diet/plant-based-diet-longevity/
  3. https://patient.info/news-and-features/the-longevity-diet-can-it-add-years-to-your-life/
  4. https://www.bluezones.com/recipes/food-guidelines/
  5. https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Product-innovations/Carotenoids-for-longevity-healthy-aging/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9017484/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986475/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10863666/

Vladka on May 27th, 2024

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