It's no secret that maintaining a healthy diet and exercise plan is key to living longer. That being said, doing that would be a lot easier if we all lived in nations around the world that have been classified as "blue zones."
David Katz, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, was able to pinpoint five blue zones across the world where thousands of people live to 100 and beyond. This discovery is the end result of over a decade of research. Areas with the highest concentrations of centenarians on Earth are Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
To help you live more than a century, here are the best dietary habits from each blue zone.
1. Loma Linda, California
This community is filled with Seventh-Day Adventists, many of whom outlive most Americans by over a decade. This Christian group practices a strict routine in terms of diet and fitness. They avoid meat and dairy products at all costs. While some eat meat in moderation, this area of California is mostly vegan. They center their diets around grains, nuts, and legumes, and quench their thirst by drinking only water.
2. Sardinia, Italy
The people pf Sardinia are known for growing their own food and living off the land. This allows them to eat the freshest foods while getting a good amount of exercise. The cost of slaughtering animals is incredibly high, so meat consumption is saved for special occasions. They typically stick with a diet of fish, vegetables, and whole grain foods, all of which are beneficial to cardiovascular health.
3. Okinawa, Japan
With crystal blue oceans, it's not hard to believe that the people of Okinawa rely heavily on a fish-based diet. However, you might be surprised to learn that soybeans also play an important role in their longevity. These beans are full of protein and carbohydrates and low on fat. Because stir-fry is so popular in this blue zone, it's worth noting that people's diets in Okinawa are packed with veggies.
4. Ikaria, Greece
Like those in Sardinia, the people of Ikaria reap the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. Meal portions are reminiscent of Spanish tapas, which means that they're pretty small. Products made with goat and sheep's milk along with bread made of wheat, rye, and barley are key components of the Ikarian diet. These whole grain breads help increase fiber intake. The people of Ikaria experience a 20 percent lower risk of cancer than Americans.
5. The Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Meals in the Nicoya Peninsula are typically cooked earlier in the day than we are accustomed to. People in the region also believe in eating what is necessary and nothing more. Science has proven that the combination of eating early and only eating what is essential can help extend a person's life by at least a few years.
If you're already a coffee addict, you'll be excited to know that these people consume a ton of the stuff. Coffee is believed to help cut down the risk of dementia and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Listen, I'm not worried about whether or not I'll make it to 100, so I think I'll keep focusing on living life to the fullest with a cheeseburger and fries every now and then. What about you? Does this make you want to change your eating habits?