Successful aging is dependent upon several factors, and one of the most important is nutrition. Eating a diet that is not only balanced but palatable can seem a challenge, until we focus on what the oldest people on Earth eat. In the Blue Zones, where centenarians are more prevalent than anywhere else in the world, diets are simple and complete, without many of the undesirable byproducts of modern food production. For a diet that enables longevity, follow these nutrition tips for successful aging from the Blue Zones.
Blue Zones Nutrition Tips for Successful Aging
Tip # 1 – Freshen up!
Diets in the Blue Zones have changed little over centuries and are based primarily on fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables, which are often grown at or near home. Unlike the meat-based diets in much of the world, plant-based diets are known to provide all of the protein we need without the unhealthy fats and cholesterol. And plant-based diets also help keep calories in check, reducing the risks that come with being overweight. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with nutrients and the wide variety available make it easy to eat more without eating the same ones every day. For a fresh start on a successful aging diet, check out the nutrition tips in the article, “How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight,” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tip #2 – Get keen on beans!
Another of the Blue Zone nutrition tips to follow is to eat more beans. Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans, and lentils, to name a few, are essential components of the Blue Zones’ food pyramid. So, what’s so great about beans? Pretty much everything from protein to fiber to vitamins and minerals, all of which are in abundance. But beans may also contribute to successful aging by reducing the risk of some cancers, helping control blood sugar levels, reducing risk of heart disease, and lowering cholesterol. And beans are easily incorporated into meals to replace meat, as a side dish or even for a snack. Find out how versatile and delicious beans can be in the bluezones.com article, “5 Delicious Ways to Eat a Cup of Beans Each Day.”
Tip #3 – Beware of added sugar
One of the most essential nutrition tips for successful aging is to understand the role of added sugar. Sugar is incorporated into just about every form of processed food, even some that don’t seem sweet. But the truth is that our bodies do not need added sugar, and arguably would be much healthier without it. Added sugars, as noted in the JAMA Internal Medicine article “Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults,” may in fact be linked to cardiovascular disease, which many people attribute to other factors like excess fats and smoking. Of course, added sugars are also complicit in elevating the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes as well. All of this is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently upgraded the Nutrition Facts Labels on packaged foods and drinks to include added sugars, letting shoppers make the best choices without guessing.
Tip #4 – Go nuts every day!
One of the best nutrition tips for successful aging is to simply eat more nuts every day. Nuts are mini powerhouses with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, proteins, and antioxidants. In general, all nuts are great in moderation, but some have certain attributes that make them stand out. According to the healthline.com article, “The Top 9 Nuts to Eat for Better Health,” these include pistachios which are among the lowest in fats and calories, almonds that may lower “bad” cholesterol, walnuts that reduce risk of heart disease, and macadamia nuts that are excellent for those on low carbohydrate diets.
General rules of thumb
In addition to all of the above, Blue Zones diets are lower in dairy and other animal foods including eggs but allow occasional fish and seafood. Also prevalent are whole grains like oats and barley which can be eaten alone or added to other dishes and are not only filling but full of nutrition and fiber. For cooking, olive oil is preferred rather than butter, and to quench thirst throughout the day, go with water rather than sugary soda or juice. Also common in the Blue Zones is consumption of coffee and tea, as well as wine, all in moderation. For help planning meals based on nutrition tips for successful aging, the Blue Zones Meal Planner offers a wealth of ideas.
These nutrition tips for successful aging work best when combined with an active lifestyle in a community with friends and neighbors close by, like Sonrisa Senior Living. At Sonrisa Senior Living, our residents are free to embrace the lifestyle they prefer, with the knowledge that we are always there to assist. Take a moment today to view our housing options and amenities and contact us to schedule your tour!