The longest-living people on Earth eat these 6 foods

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  • People living in Earth's 'Blue Zones' commonly live up to 100 years.
  • Plenty of research has documented lifestyle factors that contribute to their longevity.
  • Part of this is their diet, which is rich in plant-based foods such as nuts, legumes and fish.

There are five regions on Earth where people are known to live the longest statistically. While genetics play a role in determining how long you will live and whether you’re susceptible to certain diseases, your lifestyle - such as diet - has a much bigger influence. 

Naturally, scientists have worked hard to understand what’s behind the long lifespans of those living in these geographic areas. Known as ‘Blue Zones’, these regions include Ikaria in Greece, Ogliastra, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and Loma Linda, California.

READ MORE | People live longer in the 'Blue Zones'

According to Healthline, past studies have found that these regions contain extremely high rates of nonagenarians and centenarians (people who live over 90 and 100 years). 

When it comes to diet, residents in the Blue Zones largely eat a diet rich in plant proteins - 95% of their diet is plant-based. The groups who are not vegetarian consume meat only around five times per month. This is hardly surprising, as numerous studies have shown that cutting back on red meat and consuming more plant-based foods can improve your health and longevity.

READ MORE | 7 ways to eat less red meat (and why you should)

This study concluded that cutting back on red meat intake and processed foods and changing to a plant-based diet can add 13 years to your life.

If you want to give living to 100 your best shot, here are six plant-based foods to include in your diet.

1. Legumes

Legumes, such as lentils, beans and peas, are extremely nutritious, typically low in (unhealthy) fat and contain no cholesterol.

The Blue Zone diet guidelines suggest you incorporate at least half a cup of legumes in your meals a day.

2. Whole grains

Whole grains are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and so much more. 

Grains like couscous can provide up to six grams of protein per cup. Other grains include oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, brown rice and barley.

3. Nuts and seeds

Touted as the staple Blue Zones snack, they are flavourful and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease.

READ MORE | Plants on your plate will protect your heart

All nuts have magnesium, notes Harvard Health, which supports your muscle and nerve function. But they also contain plenty of important vitamins. For example, peanuts and pecans contain many B vitamins, while almonds are rich in calcium and vitamin E.

4. Fish - in moderation

People living in the Blue Zones eat small servings of fish - no more than 85 grams about three times per week. 

Sardines and anchovies are a good choice since they don’t contain as many toxins as other fish. 

5. Dairy from sheep and goats

The Sardinia, Ikaria, Nicoya, and Loma Linda diets all incorporate dairy products. Full-fat dairy options are preferred as low-fat options tend to have more additives.

6. Eggs on a regular basis

In the Blue Zones, eggs are typically consumed around four to six times a week. They are packed with B vitamins and proteins and are often accompanied by plant foods such as beans. 

Healthline also notes that in addition to these six plant foods, caloric restriction and periodic fasting are also common in Blue Zones, while a previous News24 article explained that high levels of daily physical activity, such as gardening and walking, are also key to their long lives.

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