Living in a Blue Zone: What Happens When Americans Discovered Their First Longevity Dilemma and Dietary Habits
In a few, unique communities around the globe, people live long and heathy lives, up to and past 100. Dubbed “blue zones,” residents of these areas share a common environment and lifestyle that scientists believe contribute to their longevity.
The Italian island of Sardinia was where one of the first groups of centenarians were studied — soon, similar long-lived people were discovered in Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.
Blue zone eating is similar to the Mediterranean style in that it’s the best overall diet for health. But there are also differences between a blue zone eating pattern and that of the Mediterranean, Buettner said.
Complex carbohydrates, such as beans, peas, vegetables and whole grains provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that can go missing in processed and refined foods. The American Heart Association says that the fiber helps you feel full longer, and they are digested more slowly.
With the assistance of researchers, Buettner spent much of his time looking for a blue tint in traditional foods brought to the United States. He wasn’t the one to find it, but he did find it.
“As it turns out, my European ancestors did not bring over a longevity diet,” Buettner said. Instead, it was the African, Asian, Latino and Native Americans “who ate a diet that is nearly a dead ringer for the blue zone style.”
He said purple sweet potatoes were the source of the diet of Okinawans until 1975. It produced the longest-lived population in the history of humankind.
Blue zone recipes were also found in Gullah Geechee cuisine, a method of cooking developed by descendants of enslaved Africans who settled in the Sea Islands of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. Stews and soups may be thickened with benne seeds, an heirloom version of sesame seeds brought over on slave ships.
The Buettner Roadmap to Steakhouse: 100 Easy and Quick Meat Recipes from a Father’s Cookbook
There are no meat recipes in the cookbook, and a “brisket” made from seitan, a plant-based meat substitute, mimics the flavor and texture of chicken. Roger, Buettner’s meat loving dad, traveled across the country and taste-tested all of the recipes.
The cookbook was filled with stories of chefs who make and promote ancestral cooking, as well as the recipes with little-known ingredients.
The story of how slave traders forced his ancestors to eat black-eyed peas and palm oil was told by a chef at a New Orleans restaurant.
Why? They needed to be at least 125 pounds before they could be shipped to the Americas. If the slaves didn’t eat and gain weight, Mbaye said, they were shot. In a nod to them, Mbaye created a version of a last meal using fresh vegetables and spices.
In today’s fast- paced world, many of these 100 recipes can be assembled within 20 minutes or in a pressure cooker, and they’re not hard to make.
“Most of the one-pot meals I have in the book also freeze very well,” he said. “And when you want another quick meal, you pull it out and throw it in the microwave, and you have a meal that’s full of complex carbohydrates, micronutrients and a whole variety of fiber.
“And it’ll cost you under $2 a serving, leave you feeling better and, according to my father, taste a lot better than a small hamburger,” Buettner added. What are you going to lose?
The Blue Food Assessment: Understanding the role of blue foods in food systems globally and the implications for human health, economics and environmental security and climate
The Blue Food Assessment examined the roles of blue foods in current and future food systems globally. More than 100 scholars from several disciplines came together to investigate the environmental impacts of blue food production, as well as the vulnerability of blue food production to environmental stressors. It synthesized key dimensions characterizing the small-scale fisheries and aquaculture (SSFA) actors14 who produce two-thirds of aquatic foods destined for human consumption14,25, and evaluated injustices across the blue food system to identify policy attributes that support more equitable access to blue food benefits17. Climate risks posed to social, economic and environmental outcomes of blue food systems worldwide were assessed. It explored how supporting the capabilities of actors, small and large, across the supply chains can build adaptive capacity to support a wider food system transformation. With the large body of previous research, and this multi-perspective assessment, it is possible to see how blue foods can help support a food system transformation. These functions include the following.