Anti-Aging Recipes from the ‘Blue Zones’ for a Longer, Healthier Life

21. Nicoya Peninsula Lifestyle What is unique about the Nicoya Peninsula? One thing is the “plan de vida,” or reason to live, which propels a positive… Rina - July 11, 2020
‘plan de vida’. Shytterstock.

21. Nicoya Peninsula Lifestyle

What is unique about the Nicoya Peninsula? One thing is the “plan de vida,” or reason to live, which propels a positive outlook among elders and helps keep them active. Another is a focus on family and a special ability to listen and laugh. Nicoyan centenarians frequently visit with neighbors, and they tend to live with families and children or grandchildren who provide support, as well as a sense of purpose. Another is that drink hard water. Nicoyan water has the country’s highest calcium content, perhaps explaining the lower rates of heart disease, as well as stronger bones and fewer hip fractures.

They also eat a light dinner. Eating fewer calories appears to be one of the surest ways to add years to your life. Nicoyans eat a light dinner early in the evening. For most of their lives, Nicoyan centenarians ate a traditional Mesoamerica diet highlighted with the “three sisters” of agriculture: squash, corn, and beans. Nicoyans regularly take in the sunshine, which helps their bodies produce vitamin D for strong bones and healthy body function. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a host of problems, such as osteoporosis and heart disease, but regular, “smart” sun exposure (about 15 minutes on the legs and arms) can help supplement your diet and make sure you’re getting enough of this vital nutrient.

Sweet pineapple and rice drink. Shutterstock.

22. Pineapple Horchata

Pineapple Horchata
Serves 4 

1 pineapple
5 cups water
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 cinnamon stick

Peel and core the pineapple; reserve the flesh for garnish. Place rice, cinnamon stick, pineapple peels and core with water in a pot; bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick, peel, and core.
Blend in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain if you want a smooth texture. Add water if needed, for consistency. Garnish with sliced pineapple pieces.


Gallo Pinto. Shutterstock.

23. Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto
Serves 4

1 cup cooked black beans (best if cooked from scratch, but you can use canned).
1 cup cooked rice (long grain is best).
A tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
dash of salt and pepper
3 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cilantro (plus extra for garnishing)

Optional – fresh tomato salsa for a topping (Just chop a little extra onion, cilantro, and a couple of tomatoes and squeeze in half a lime)

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Fry the onion until translucent, then add garlic and red pepper and cook until garlic is browned slightly. Add beans (all liquid removed), salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add rice and chopped cilantro and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve with fresh tomato salsa if desired.

Anti-aging recipes from the 'Blue Zones' for a longer, healthier life.
A map of southern California. Shutterstock.

24. Loma Linda, California, USA

Loma Linda, Spanish for “beautiful” or “lovely” hill” is 100km east of Los Angeles. It has been known as a mecca for healthy living for decades. The town was adopted at the turn of the 20th century, by the health-focused founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who purchased a property in the area. The Adventist’s way of life involves a mostly plant-based diet, regular exercise, and a commitment to celebrate the Sabbath as the day of rest.

“When we look at just mortality, Adventists appear to die of approximately the same diseases but the age at which they die is much later,” says Dr. Larry Beeson, a professor in epidemiology at Loma Linda University. A long-term study, which started in 1976, involving 34,000 members of the church, concluded that their lifestyle added a significant number of years to the average lifespan. Researchers identified “striking” protective effects of a vegetarian diet. Adventists believe that their longevity is linked to their respect of the human body as a temple of the holy spirit

Spanish for ‘beautiful hill’. Shutterstock.

25. Loma Linda Lifestyle

This Adventist community in California outlives the average American by a decade. Taking their diet directly from the Bible they consume a vegan diet of leafy greens, nuts, and legumes. They recognize the Sabbath and downshift for 24 hours each week. Many of the Adventists are still very active into their late 90s. For example, Dr Ellsworth Wareham, who is 95 years old, was told that a contractor wanted $6000 to build a privacy fence in his yard. Instead of paying the contractor, he decided to do it himself.

After 3 days of work he ended up in the hospital, but Ellsworth was not on the table, he was the surgeon performing the open-heart surgery, one of 20 surgeries performed that month. Similarly, Marge Jetton age 105 woke up every morning at 5:30 am read her Bible, had a breakfast of slow cook oatmeal, nuts, and dates with soymilk and a prune juice shooter. She would then ride her stationary bike for 30 minutes and get in her Cadillac and drive to her volunteer jobs for 7 different organizations.

Brown Rice Salad. Shutterstock.

26. Adventist Brown Rice Salad

Adventist Brown Rice Salad
Serves 2

⅛ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cucumbers, sliced or diced
½ red bell pepper, cored and sliced or diced
3 black pitted olives, diced
2 teaspoons pine nuts (can substitute other chopped nuts)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice, chilled

In a small bowl, whisk together turmeric, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. In a large bowl, mix dressing with all other ingredients except for rice. Add rice and toss to combine well. 

Tomato Avocado Soup. Shutterstock.

27. Chilled Tomato Avocado Soup

Chilled Tomato Avocado Soup
Serves 3-4

6 tomatoes, chopped or 4 cups canned tomatoes
6 green onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp salt
1 cup of water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 avocado, diced
Lemon wedges

Chopped chives or scallions, optional garnish

In a soup pot, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and one cup of water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 15 minutes longer. Strain through sieve or cloth. Chill thoroughly. Spoon into bowls and add avocado. Serve with lemon wedges and chives or scallions for optional garnish.

Anti-aging recipes from the 'Blue Zones' for a longer, healthier life.
Anti-aging recipes from the ‘Blue Zones’ for a longer, healthier life. Shutterstock.

28. In Summary

Blue Zones started as a way of discovering the healthiest lifestyles that lead to vitality and longevity. Now, 12 years after the start of this massive project, Blue Zones is a way to design the healthiest lifestyles possible for individuals and for entire communities. The goal for Blue Zones is to not only make the healthy choice the easy choice, but also the unavoidable choice. In association with the University of Minnesota Public Health Department, this research team created the Vitality Compass, named the Best Online Tool for Retirement and Longevity by the Wall Street Journal.

This tool has users answer lifestyle and background questions based on the Power 9 teachings of Right Outlook, Move Naturally, Eat Wisely, and Belong; it then calculates their biological age, overall life expectancy, healthy life expectancy, and the years they are gaining/losing because of their habits. It then gives the users 12 customized recommendations to help them live longer and better. This is a useful tool to take initiative as a baseline test, then try out some of the specific lifestyle recommendations, and 3 to 6 months later, take the quiz again. Recommendations include reducing salt intake, joining a faith-based community, quitting smoking, improving attitude, and many more.


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