The blue zones are areas in the world, notably: Sardinia – Italy, Ikaria – Greece, Okinawa – Japan, Nicoya – Costa Rica, and Loma Linda – USA. Although locality wise, these areas are far from each other, they all have a few things in common in regards to the people's longevity of life and health. They follow some simple culinary rules, and this has widely become known as the blue zone diet. The simple guideline here is mainly to eat fresh, not processed. Whole foods only, this should be a number one goal when eating food on the blue zone diet, and kick the processed stuff to the curb. Other ways of eating are set out below to kick start you on to a longer, healthier, happier food life.
Plants and vegetables are so good for the human body, for many reasons, but one main reason is that all plant food has protein. Plant foods even have a better, and more concentrated, protein element than that which is found in animal foods. Animal protein contains extra stuff like cholesterol, saturated fats, and even antibiotics and added hormones. Consuming all kinds of fruits and vegetables is one of the first tips for this way of eating, but getting down to specifics, green leafy vegetables are the best in regards to nutrition. For fruit, enjoy yourself; there is no limit on which fruits you can eat on the blue zone diet.
The Blue zone diet doesn't cut out meat entirely. If you are a vegetarian already, then this step will be easy for you, as you have already eliminated the meat aspect. For those who still enjoy beef, chicken or pork, a great way to incorporate them into this way of eating is to limit your consumption of meat to eat it only once, maybe twice per week. Think of them as a celebratory food! It is important to note we are talking quality cuts of meat here, no processed hot dogs or luncheon meats. If you are only eating them now and then, make it the best you can find! Don't go overboard though; limit your portions to no larger than a deck of cards per meal.
Eating fish in encouraged, even up to three times per week. Fish is a wonderful and nutrition white meat, low in saturated fats and some fish even have health benefits. Go for fish such as wild caught salmon, and stay away from farmed salmon. Also beneficial are cod, snapper, trout, even sardines, and anchovies. All these have good Omega 3 fatty acids, which are extremely beneficial to the function of the human body. Portion size for fish is around 3 ounces; this works out to be around the size of the palm of your hand.
Dairy is not a complete no-no on this blue zone eating plan, but it is important to avoid it if you can. If you can't, as it's understandable that eliminating dairy completely is not always possible, then aim to reduce it. You can always eat smaller portions of cheese, and if you do, go for something like a goat feta or pecorino, as they are full of flavor and lower in calories and fat, than cheese from cow's milk. A great alternative is coconut milk or almond milk. Even though eggs are not actually considered dairy, they are often in this category. Eggs can be limited to three times a week.
Beans are just so good for you, and they should be incorporated much more into the average American diet. For the blue zone way of eating one cup of beans can be mixed with your meals throughout the day, in a salad, in a stew or curry, on toast, the options are endless. If you are using canned beans or chickpeas, be sure to buy the brand that doesn't have added salt or sodium, if you are using fresh, make sure you soak them long enough before cooking. Tofu is also in this category, as well as beans they contain a good quality amount of fiber and protein.
Sugar is in many more products than you may realize, so it is a great idea to get into the habit of reading labels. Ideally, you should slash your sugar intake to just 28 grams per day. This comes in at around seven teaspoons, which actually still is quite a bit of sugar intake per day. To combat this, you can use honey as a sweetener in many things that you would normally add sugar to. Cut out the cookies, cakes, and candies for special occasions only. You may even notice a difference in your tolerance to sweet candies after a time ‘off' the sugar, and prefer to eat less anyway.
Refined flours can be detrimental to our health. Refined flours produce white bread and then after they are packed with preservatives so they last longer in the cupboard, you are only adding more opportunities to encourage clogged arteries, inflammation and sugar levels. So, best to stick to 100% whole grain bread and avoid the white bread and white flour tortillas. Quality sourdough bread is also good on this blue zone eating plan. Two slices daily should do it.
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, the list goes on. Naturally different nuts have different things going for them in regards to nutrition on how they affect the body, and you shouldn't overdo it on just one kind of nut. Best to eat a mix of a couple of handfuls per day. Eating in moderation and mixing up your choice of nuts is the key to not getting bored with this easy pop in the mouth snack. Please be aware of eating unsalted nut and not to buy the sugar-coated kind, this just defeats the purpose of eating a healthy snack.
Water is the natural purifier of the body, an efficient detoxing agent, and liquid cleanser. So, obviously, water should be your drink of choice on the blue zone drinks list. Up to six glasses of water a day is sufficient. You will need more if you are working out. You can also drink unsweetened tea and coffee and herbal teas, but cut out all sugary sodas and juices. A glass of wine or two along with a nice blue zone inspired meal is a nice bonus, alongside a glass of water. Water is your friend! Embrace it.
Overeating is easy. We want food; we love the taste, and our bellies can't work as fast as our mouths. Often we overindulge and end up at the end of a meal, completely stuffed and rolling home. It is important to take your time when you eat and not gobble it down, this way your body can catch up with your taste buds, plus you will enjoy the food more. It's suggested to eat to when you are around 80% full for meals and avoid having large snacks throughout the day. Training our bodies for this much intake of food keeps us regular and on track on the blue zone way of eating and living: healthy and happy.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.