At this week's Create A Better You session I spoke about Blue Zones. If you've never heard the term before, simply put, Blue Zones refer to the five regions of the world where residents are most likely to live to 100 years young. These people also tend to be very healthy, with much lower rates of chronic diseases when compared with western societies - they're not just living, but thriving!
At yesterday's session we covered the nine important similarities these communities share and simple tips for 'blue zoning' your life (check out Dan Buettner's Blue Zones website here for further information), but today I wanted to follow that up with a few recipes that adhere to the dietary principles commonly shared by these centenarians. For those that weren't at the session here's a quick recap:
1. Plant Based Diets
While most centenarians were not strict vegetarians, meat is typically only eaten about 5 times per month - and when it is, the serving sizes are small. Plants take centre stage at each meal, so try to make 90-95% of your diet vegetables (including a serve of greens each day), fruits, legumes and whole grains. Snack on nuts and seeds.
2. Be Mindful of Fish
The intake of fish varies dependent on Blue Zone, but falls between 0-3 serves per week. Modern day fish is unfortunately often laced with mercury, PCBs and other industrial pollutants. Fish ingest these chemicals and cannot excrete them from their bodies, so it builds up in the flesh. The larger a fish (and the higher up the food chain it is) the more likely its flesh will contain dangerous levels of these chemicals. It is because of these chemicals that fish are not recommended as part of the official Blue Zones® diet. If you choose to eat fish it would pay to familiarise yourself with the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) guidelines regarding fish consumption.
3. Love your Legumes
Legumes (particularly fava beans, lentils, soy and black beans) are seen as the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world. Aim for a cup of beans daily.
4, Whole Foods
Wherever you can eat whole, unprocessed foods. You won't see people in Blue Zones guzzling down on soft drinks and biscuits, or microwaving their store-bought frozen lasagnes. Added sugar is kept to a minimum - its used as a flavouring, not a food! Ideally go for the intact grain itself, but if having bread choose whole grain or traditional sourdoughs . Make your food at home most of the time - eating out and sweet or fatty foods are seen as treats and is reserved for special occasions. As the saying goes if it comes from a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant, don't!
Foods commonly eaten include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables