The Most Common Food Eaten by the World’s Healthiest People – Eat This, Not That


In a recent special edition, National geographic did a deep dive in the blue areas. Blue Zones include five different communities around the world that are known to have the highest concentration of residents over the age of 100. These areas, studied in depth by author Dan Buettner, include Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Loma Linda in California, and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

What is particularly interesting about Buettner’s research is the distribution of different diets consumed in each region. Although there is not a specific type of diet followed by each blue zone (they eat a variety of high fiber foods, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and a small amount of meat and fish ), it was easy to determine some generalities. themes in the types of diets these people follow. Specifically, the most common foods that are eaten.

It was clear that the majority of Blue Zone residents commonly eat a combination of healthy starches. These starches include whole grains, legumes, and potatoes. Vegetables come in second for each zone, along with fruit, all fiber-rich, plant-based nutrient-dense foods.

Carbohydrates…really?

First, it is important to note the types of carbohydrates consumed by these communities. Whole grains such as oats, barley and brown rice are commonly eaten. Baked goods usually contain whole grains and most of the time are made from scratch. This includes sourdough breads, tortillas, flatbreads, and even pastas.

Sweet potatoes are a staple for the Okinawan community. Legumes– such as beans, chickpeas and lentils – are also considered staple foods for many other communities. In Loma Linda, pulses and soy products are more commonly eaten, along with vegetables, while the percentage of grains in their diet is much lower.

In a diet world where eating very low carb gets so much praise, these communities welcome healthy starches with open arms and live the longest.

High fiber diets linked to longevity

Although the longevity of these communities is linked to all sorts of other factors (genetics, exercise, community awareness, etc.), research continues to prove the link between a high-fiber diet and a long life.

A study published in JAMA internal medicine found that diets high in dietary fiber can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases.

Another meta-analysis of 17 studies of the American Journal of Epidemiology found that for every 10 grams of fiber consumed, it reduced the risk of death by 10% for nearly one million participants.

Finally, a 2019 study in The Lancet concluded that high fiber diets (consuming between 25 and 29 grams of fiber per day) reduced the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and also helped to significantly lower cholesterol total, blood pressure and even body weight.

the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that over 90% of women and 97% of men are not getting the recommended daily fiber intake and should eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to reach their goals. The USDA recommends adults up to age 50 consume 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men. Adults over 50 should consume between 21 and 30 grams.

You can also get a boost of healthy fiber (and starches) in your diet by incorporating these 43 best high-fiber foods for healthy eating into your routine.


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