Sustainable cooking habits (People in the blue zones eat sugar intentionally, not by habit or accident.)


The number of people who (often unknowingly) have some difficulty digesting lactose may be as high as 60 percent.
Goat’s milk contains lactose, it also contains lactase, an enzyme that helps the body digest lactose.
Goat’s and sheep’s milk products figure into the Ikarian and Sardinian blue zones.

In most blue zones, people ate some fish but less than you might think—up to three small servings a week.
It makes sense, for example, to select fish that are common and abundant, not threatened by overfishing.
People in the blue zones don’t overfish the waters like corporate fisheries that threaten to deplete entire species.
Blue zones fishermen cannot afford to wreak havoc on the ecosystems they depend on.

People in all of the blue zones eat eggs about two to four times per week. Usually they eat just one as a side dish with a whole-grain or plant-based dish. [...] Slowly matured eggs are naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

Averaging out consumption in blue zones, we found that people ate about two ounces or less about five times per month. And we don’t know if they lived longer despite eating meat.
People in four of the five blue zones consume meat, but they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavor dishes.
Table Sugar:

Consume only 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of added sugar daily. People in the blue zones eat sugar intentionally, not by habit or accident.

Eat at least a half cup of cooked beans daily. Beans reign supreme in blue zones. They’re the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world: black beans in Nicoya; lentils, garbanzo, and white beans in the Mediterranean; and soybeans in Okinawa. People in the blue zones eat at least four times as many beans as Americans do on average.
Beans are a meal staple in all five of the blue zones—with a dietary average of at least a half-cup per day, which provides most of the vitamins and minerals you need.
The fact is, beans are the consummate superfood. On average, they are made up of 21 percent protein, 77 percent complex carbohydrates (the kind that deliver a slow and steady energy rather than the spike you get from refined carbohydrates like white flour), and only a few percent fat. They are also an excellent source of fiber. They’re cheap and versatile, come in a variety of textures, and are packed with more nutrients per gram than any other food on Earth.

People in the blue zones eat an impressive variety of garden vegetables when they are in season, and then they pickle or dry the surplus to enjoy during the off-season. The best-of-the-best longevity foods are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards. Combined with seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans dominate blue zones meals all year long.

Eat two handfuls of nuts per day. A handful of nuts weighs about two ounces, the average amount that blue zones centenarians consume—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.

The optimal mix of nuts: almonds (high in vitamin E and magnesium), peanuts (high in protein and folate, a B vitamin), Brazil nuts (high in selenium, a mineral found effective in protecting against prostate cancer), cashews (high in magnesium), and walnuts (high in alpha-linoleic acid, the only omega-3 fat found in a plant-based food). Walnuts, peanuts, and almonds are the nuts most likely to lower your cholesterol.

Eat only sourdough or 100 percent whole wheat. Blue zones bread is unlike the bread most Americans buy. Most commercially available breads start with bleached white flour, which metabolizes quickly into sugar and spikes insulin levels. But bread from the blue zones is either whole grain or sourdough, each with its own healthful characteristics. In Ikaria and Sardinia, breads are made from a variety of whole grains such as wheat, rye, or barley, each of which offers a wide spectrum of nutrients, such as tryptophan, an amino acid, and the minerals selenium and magnesium.

Whole grains also have higher levels of fiber than most commonly used wheat flours. Some traditional blue zones breads are made with naturally occurring bacteria called lactobacilli, which “digest” the starches and glutens while making the bread rise. The process also creates an acid—the “sour” in sourdough. The result is bread with less gluten even than breads labeled “gluten free,” with a longer shelf life and a pleasantly sour taste that most people like. Traditional sourdough breads actually lower the glycemic load of meals, making your entire meal healthier, slower burning, easier on your pancreas, and more likely to make calories available as energy than stored as fat.

Never drink soft drinks (including diet soda). With very few exceptions, people in blue zones drank coffee, tea, water, and wine. Period.
General considerations:

Choose foods that are recognizable. People in blue zones traditionally eat the whole food. They don’t throw the yolk away to make an egg-white omelet, or spin the fat out of their yogurt, or juice the fiber-rich pulp out of their fruits. They also don’t enrich or add extra ingredients to change the nutritional profile of their foods. Instead of taking vitamins or other supplements, they get everything they need from nutrient-dense, fiber-rich whole foods.
A good definition of a “whole food” would be one that is made of a single ingredient,
raw, cooked, ground, or fermented, and not highly processed.

Almost all of the foods consumed by centenarians in the blue zones grow within a 10- mile radius of their homes. They eat raw fruits and vegetables; they grind whole grains themselves and then cook them slowly. They 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.
Four always:

100% Whole Grains: Farro, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur, cornmeal
Nuts & Seeds: A handful a day
Beans, Legumes, Pulses: A cup of cooked beans / pulses per day
Fruits and Vegetables: 5-10 servings per day


Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Empty calories
Salty Snacks (Potato chips, Cheese doodles, etc): Too much salt and preservatives
Packaged Sweets (Candy, Packaged cookies and sweets): Empty calories, preservatives, additives
Processed Meats (Bacon, Sausage, Cold cuts): Linked to cancer, heart disease
For Whole Grains: You can include 100% whole grain pasta and bread in this category, but the whole grains (like the ones listed above) are preferable.

For Beans: We include all pulses and legumes in this category, including chickpeas, lentils, broad beans, and green beans.

For Nuts: You can include seeds in this category, as they are also common in blue zones regions.

For Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: This includes the fancy coffee drinks so popular all over America. Try to drink unsweetened coffee or tea, or slowly reduce the amount of sugar you use. We don’t include smoothies in this category if you eat them as a light meal.