Let’s face it, there are many things about the way we eat in the United States that could be much healthier. In fact, the Standard American Diet, which is full of processed foods, added sugar, and saturated fats, contributes to many health complications in our country.
Thankfully, we have other places in the world to pull inspiration from. The Blue Zones, for example, are five regions of the world where the highest concentrations of centenarians exist, and we can learn a lot from their way of living and their daily diets.
These regions include Sardinia in Itay, Okinawa in Japan, Ikaria in Greece, Nicoya in Costa Rica, and Loma Linda in California. And while each region consumes different foods unique to them and their lifestyle, it’s helpful to learn about the foods they eat to see what we can incorporate in our lives to be a little bit healthier.
Loma Linda in California is one of the five Blue Zones and is a community that is uniquely made up of mostly Seventh-Day Adventists.
Along with regular religious practice and a weekly period of 24 hours to be in quiet contemplation, those in this community also eat a largely vegetarian diet full of healthy foods.
Avocados, which have a long list of health benefits, are a staple for the Loma Linda community. According to a National Geographic article on the world’s Blue Zones, avocados are helpful in lowering cholesterol and contain 30% more potassium than bananas.
Avocados have also been found to help manage weight and decrease your risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Beans are a staple in most Blue Zones and provide helpful amounts of fiber and other nutrients that help fight disease. For example, black-eyed peas are a normal part of a daily diet in Ikaria, Greece, and these beans have been found to have anti-cancer, heart-healthy, and anti-diabetes properties.
The Nicoya community from Costa Rica eats black beans on a daily basis, often with rice and corn tortillas. Black beans have high amounts of fiber and antioxidants and are known to help manage diabetes, prevent cancer, and lower your risk of heart disease.
The community of Okinawa, Japan, eats garlic on a regular basis. National Geographic states that garlic is one of “nature’s most powerful medicines” and has been linked to lowering the risk of certain diseases that commonly occur as you age.
More specifically, a report from Antioxidants says that garlic has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is known to help prevent certain cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
White potatoes are a staple for those who live in Ikaria, Greece, and purple sweet potatoes (called imo) are consumed in Okinawa, Japan on a regular basis.
Purple sweet potatoes contain a phytochemical called anthocyanins, which are known to help prevent disease. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin A, B6, C, potassium, and fiber.