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10+ Secrets to Longevity in Ikaria.

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Discover the 10+ secrets to the longevity of Ikarians, the people living on the tiny Greek island of Ikaria, known as one of the five Blue Zones.

A tiny Greek island in the eastern Aegean belongs to the world’s five zones, which refer to places with exceptional longevity and a high percentage of centenarians. One in three people lives into their nineties. It is a place where age is just a number, and people don’t just live long but are vital and in good health. Today, Ikaria is almost entirely free of dementia and some chronic diseases.

Join me to uncover the secrets of Ikarian longevity, focusing on food and lifestyle habits that one can implement at home.

What is a blue zone?

What is a blue zone?

Blue Zones are regions where people live significantly longer and healthier lives than the global average. They have fewer chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and it’s common to see people over 100 years old. Ikaria is one such Blue Zone, known for its unique lifestyle, especially its diet.

Other blue zones include Okinawa, Sardinia, Nicoya Peninsula, and Loma Linda

Why do people in Ikaria live longer?

In the Aegean, the Greek island of Ikaria is one of the world’s five blue zones, where people forget to die. The landscape is mountainous, with winding roads dangerously close to cliffs. Villages are scattered with blue-domed Orthodox churches and numerous olive groves, where locals press their olive oil.

Ikarians live longer because of the island’s history. The outcropping in the Aegean Sea has been the target of different groups like the Persians, Romans, and Turks, and they stayed strong. This created a culture where traditions and family are important.

According to Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow who studied these regions, geography, culture, diet, and lifestyle are combined.

Many ikarians enjoy strong red wine, play dominoes late into the night, and live without worrying about time. They enjoy the fresh air, gentle winds, and rough land that make them want to be outside, being active.


10+ Secrets to the Longevity of Ikarian People

a Mediterranean diet, mainly a plant-based diet

Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes and olive oil.

The most people on the island maintain vegetable gardens and grow wild greens. Their diets include wild vegetables and beans. On the other hand, they limit sugar and meat and replace them with more grains and fish.

Wild greens such as dandelion, arugula or purslane are packed with minerals and carotenoids, the pigments that body converts to vitamin A.

Olive Oil

Olive oil, known as the liquid gold of Ikaria, is not only prized for its delicious flavor but also for its numerous health benefits. Locally produced by the residents, this staple in their Ikarian diet is rich in beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants, contributing to their health and longevity.

This politiki salata is one of the longevity recipes that ikarians love.

Ikarian honey

On Ikaria island, where people forget to die, eat Ikarian honey twice a day. They add it to their morning coffee and have some before dinner. Ikarians also use honey to help with things like colds and small cuts.

Honey is more than just delicious; it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its antioxidants and its ability to fight microbes and reduce inflammation.

ikarian honey

Ikarians love Herbal Teas

They grow or forage wild herbs, which are staples of their diet and provide a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants.

Ikarians enjoy drinking herbal teas, especially rosemary, sage, and oregano. These herbal elixirs are diuretic, which helps them keep their blood pressure in check while ridding the body of excess sodium and water.

Rosemary tea


Ikarians eat them whole with their skin on. The peel may have a beneficial impact on blood glucose.


Chickpeas, along with black-eyed peas and other beans are often consumed as snacks in Ikaria or incorporated into soups and stews. Despite being higher in fat, the majority of the fat content in chickpeas is unsaturated, which is considered heart-healthy.

Check out this traditional ikarian soup Revithia, with chickpeas, or Psarosoupa fish soup.

Ikarian Wine

On this island, grapes are harvested following the moon’s phases. People crush them with their feet in a granite press, then let them ferment in clay pots buried underground called pitharia. They take out the wine using a gourd, just like they did in ancient times. One of their unique wines is Pithari, a natural wine made with the endemic Fokiano grape. It’s rich in resveratrol, has a reddish-brown color, and tastes like the island itself—ripe forest fruits, minerals, and wet granite.

The first-ever written record of wine mentions the Ikarian red wine Pramneios Oinos in Homer’s epic Odyssey, which fortified the warriors in the Ilias.

Legend has it that Dionysus, the god of wine, was born in Ikaria and worshipped in a cave above the remote cove of Lero in the island’s northeast. Homer’s Odyssey mentions Ikaria’s red wine, Pramneios Oinos, which was said to give special powers to the heroes of the Trojan War.

ikarian wine

Goat Milk

In Ikaria, they use goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. Goat’s milk has potassium and the stress-relieving hormone tryptophan. It’s also less likely to cause allergies and can be drunk by people who can’t tolerate lactose.

Foster Social Connections

One of the island’s speciality is how ikarians stay connected. Families are super important; many homes have grandparents, parents, and kids living together. In Ikaria, grandparents help care for the grandkids and manage the household. This means older people are still very involved in the community. They believe that being by yourself is not suitable for your health.


Move naturally

In Ikaria, the longest-living residents used to live in the island’s highlands and they didn’t do formal exercise. Instead, they stayed active by gardening, visiting neighbors, and doing yard work. Gardening involved tasks like digging and harvesting, which kept them moving. The island’s hilly terrain also meant they burned calories just by walking to their neighbors in nearby villages.

Occasional Fasting

Like people in other parts of Greece, people in the Ikaria blue zone follow the fasting schedule of the Greek Orthodox Church. This means they don’t eat meat during certain times, like Lent.

Reducing calories, like eating 30% less than usual, is known to slow animal aging.


People in the Blue Zone in Greece like to take a midafternoon break. Regular nappers have a reduced risk of dying from heart disease, up to 35 percent lower. This could be because napping reduces stress hormones or restores the heart.

Ikaria village

Interesting info about Ikaria

Other than one of the world’s renowned Blue Zones, tiny island of Ikaria is also known for:

  • Ikaria boasts stunning natural landscapes, including rugged mountains, lush forests, and beautiful beaches. The island’s pristine environment and clean air contribute to its reputation as a place of health and wellness.
  • According to Greek mythology, Ikaria was named after Icarus. He fell into the sea near the island after his famous flight with wax wings. This connection to ancient mythology adds to the island’s mystique and allure.
  • Certain areas of Ikaria contain naturally occurring radioactive elements, particularly radium and uranium. This geological phenomenon has led to Ikaria being listed among the world’s most radioactive places on Earth. However, the levels of radiation are considered safe for people.
  • The Archaeological Museum of Agios Kirykos in Ikaria, Greece, displays artifacts spanning various historical periods. They offering insights into the island’s rich archaeological heritage.
Why do people in Ikaria live to 100?
Vladka on May 27th, 2024

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