Food

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

8. Ikarian Lifestyle Ikaria is way out there, a plane ride, or a long ferry ride away from Athens. It’s one of the Aegean islands, not… Rina - July 11, 2020
Ikarian beach. Shutterstock.

8. Ikarian Lifestyle

Ikaria is way out there, a plane ride, or a long ferry ride away from Athens. It’s one of the Aegean islands, not too far from Turkey and right next to Samos island. In my opinion, it is definitely worth a trip. That’s because it is one of the most unique Greek islands. It is another way of life here. People don’t lock doors. People talk slower. Also, Ikarian time isn’t about keeping time. Forget about setting a numerical time for an appointment – think afternoon, evening, or sometime around that time. Local wine is poured without counting glasses. Food is naturally healthy, so people eat very well. Yes, that leads to one of the next best things to do on Ikaria… In recent years, this quiet island gained more fame thanks to fascinating studies focusing on the long amazing lives of its locals and the healthiness of the local diet. 

People in Ikaria enjoy drinking herbal teas with family and friends, and scientists have found that they pack an antioxidant punch. Wild rosemary, sage and oregano teas also act as a diuretic, which can keep blood pressure in check by ridding the body of excess sodium and water. Take a cue from Ikarians and take a midafternoon break. People who nap regularly have up to 35 percent lower chances of dying from heart disease. It may be because napping lowers stress hormones or rests the heart.

Dining on the water. Shutterstock.

9. Ikarian Eating Habits

Ikarians have traditionally been fierce Greek Orthodox Christians. Their religious calendar called for fasting almost half the year. Caloric restriction – a type of fasting that cuts about 30 percent of calories out of the normal diet – is the only proven way to slow the aging process in mammals. Instead of cow’s milk, Ikarians use grass-fed goat’s milk. It provides potassium and the stress-relieving hormone tryptophan. It’s also hypoallergenic and can usually be tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant. Ikarians foster social connections, which have been shown to benefit overall health and longevity. So get out there and make some plans.

In terms of meals Ikarians typically have a late morning breakfast comprised of goat’s milk, yogurt and or cheese, fruits, herbal tea or coffee, whole grain bread, and local honey. At lunch, salads made of beans, legumes, and potatoes, along with cooked fresh garden vegetables are standard fare and prepared with generous amounts of olive oil. Locally caught fish may also be served, and Ikarian red wine typically accompanies the meal. Meat, often a goat or pig raised by the family or neighbors, is eaten only about 5 times per month. 

Imam Bayildi. Shutterstock.

10. Ikarian Stuffed Eggplant ‘Imam Bayildi’ 

Imam Bayildi
Serves 5

Ingredients
5 medium eggplants, ends cut off, scored deeply four times lengthwise
1 cup parsley, chopped
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 onions, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, sliced in thirds
1 cup olive oil
2 small potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper (green, red, or yellow)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
In a large pan, sauté eggplants in olive oil for about 10 minutes, rotating often. In a medium bowl, mix together parsley, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and 1 cup olive oil as your stuffing mixture. Take a separate pan, sauté stuffing for 6-8 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add the stuffing mix on top and into the eggplants. Place potatoes around the eggplants in the pan. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, checking the pan for liquid and basting with cooking liquid if needed.

The authentic taste of Ikaria. Shutterstock.

11. Tomato & Pita Salad

Tomato & Pita Salad 
Serves 4-6 

Ingredients 
2 (8- to 10-inch) pita, grilled or toasted well 
3 large, firm-ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch (4 cm) chunks 
2 red onions, halved and thinly sliced 
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
2 tsp dried Greek oregano 
6 tbsp Greek extra-virgin olive oil 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 
Cut the toasted pitas into strips about 1/8 inch (3 mm) wide and 2 inches (5 cm) long. In a bowl, toss together the pita strips, tomatoes, onions, herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Anti-aging recipes from the 'Blue Zones' for a longer, healthier life.
Ogliastra Sardinia, Italy. Shutterstock.

12. Ogliastra Sardinia, Italy

Located off the coast of Italy, Sardinia is home to the world’s longest-lived men. This community of shepherds walks 5 mountainous miles a day or more. This natural movement provides all the positive cardiovascular benefits you might expect and also has a positive effect on muscle and bone metabolism without the point pounding of running marathons. The classic Sardinian diet is plant-based, consisting of whole-grain bread, beans, garden vegetables, and fruits. Meat is largely reserved for Sundays and special occasions.

Sardinians drink wine moderately. Cannonau wine has 2 or 3 times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines. Moderate wine consumption may help explain the lower levels of stress among men. Families are very close-knit. Grandparents can provide love, childcare, financial help, wisdom, and expectations/motivation to perpetuate traditions and push children to succeed in their lives. This may all add up to a healthier, better adjusted, and longer life for their children. It may give the overall population a life expectancy bump.

Local Sheep. Shutterstock.

13. Sardinian Lifestyle

The classic Sardinian diet consists of whole-grain bread, beans, garden vegetables, fruits, and, in some parts of the island, mastic oil. Sardinians also traditionally eat pecorino cheese made from grass-fed sheep, whose cheese is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Meat is largely reserved for Sundays and special occasions. Sardinia’s strong family values help assure that every member of the family is cared for. People who live in strong, healthy families suffer lower rates of depression, suicide, and stress.

Sardinians drink wine moderately. Cannonau wine has two or three times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines. Moderate wine consumption may help explain the lower levels of stress among men. Men in this Blue Zone region are famous for their sardonic sense of humor. They gather in the street each afternoon to laugh with and at each other. Laughter reduces stress, which can lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. A glass of goat’s milk contains components that might help protect against inflammatory diseases of aging such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

pecorino cheese. Shutterstock

14. Sardinian Spinach with Pecorino Cheese

Sardinian Spinach with Pecorino Cheese
Servings 4

Ingredients
1 lb. spinach
5 garlic cloves
1 big handful basil leaves (about 1 cup)
2 T olive oil
5 oz. pecorino cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Wash spinach in cold water. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spinach for 1-2 minutes, drain well. Preheat oven to 400° F Peel garlic and cut into thin slivers. Mince basil leaves. Combine spinach with garlic, basil and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide spinach mixture into four individual oven-proof ramekins. Top with slices of pecorino cheese and bake for about 2-3minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and edges become brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 minute prior to serving.

Refreshing Salad. Shutterstock.

15. Sardinian Tomato Salad

Sardinian Tomato Salad
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/4 pounds small to medium green heirloom tomatoes, such as Green Zebra and Green Grape, cored and cut into wedges
Small bulb fennel, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (1 1/2 cups), fronds reserved for serving
1/2 cup mild green olives, such as Castelvetrano, smashed and pitted
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, halved
A handful of sesame seeds for a garnish
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Serve with sliced rustic bread, such as pan Pugliese

 Instructions 
Place onion in a small bowl of ice water. Let stand 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Meanwhile, whisk together orange zest and juice and vinegar. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes, sliced fennel, olives, and drained onions with vinaigrette. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

When ready to serve, fold in chopped parsley. Season with kosher salt and pepper. With a slotted spoon, transfer salad to a serving plate or bowl. Spoon some juices from the bottom of the bowl over top. Pour remaining juices into a small serving bowl or pitcher. Garnish with sesame seeds. Toast bread, then drizzle with oil and rub with garlic. Sprinkle with flaky salt, pepper, and fennel fronds. Serve salad with extra tomato juices and bread.

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

16. Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands of Japan in the Kyushu region. Home to the world’s longest-lived women, these South Pacific islands offer many secrets to longevity. The Okinawa tradition of forming a moai provides secure social networks. These safety nets lend financial and emotional support in times of need and give their members the stress-shedding security of knowing there is always someone there for them. In Okinawa, at age 5, children are put into these committed social networks. One specific moai that was recently discovered had been together for 97 years; the average age of the group is 102.

They meet every day to drink sake and gossip. If one of them does not show up, the other 4 put on their kimonos to walk across the village to check on their friend. Okinawans also attribute their longevity to the old Confucian mantra said before meals Hara Hachi Bu, which reminds them to stop eating when 80% full, so they do not overeat. They also hold a strong sense of purpose in their family. One centenarian described the feeling of holding her great great great grandchild as “Jumping into heaven.”

Local culture. Shutterstock.

17. Okinawa Lifestyle

Their unique diet and lifestyle are credited with giving them some of the longest lifespans on the planet. The traditional Okinawa diet is low in calories and fat while high in carbs. It emphasizes vegetables and soy products alongside occasional, slight amounts of noodles, rice, pork, and fish. 

Getting enough vitamin D is rarely a problem in Okinawa. Just one degree north of the tropics, the Yaeyama group is especially blessed with sun.  They eat tofu very often, and also a lot of seaweed compared to the rest of Japan. There’s a bigger variety in Okinawa. For example, they believe one type called mozuku helps them to live longer.’ This type of seaweed is farmed in huge beds just offshore from the islands and is harvested by divers holding what are essentially giant vacuum cleaners.

Healthy and delicious. Shutterstock.

18. Turmeric Latte ‘Foamy Golden Milk’

Foamy Golden Milk
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups coconut, cashew, or almond milk
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground black pepper
Honey or Agave to taste

Instructions
In a small soup pot, heat all ingredients except for sweetener over low-medium heat. Stir as needed. Use an electric frother or whisk to create a foamy consistency. Remove from heat and divide it into two mugs. Sweeten with honey or agave, if using. 

Buckwheat pasta with squash. Shutterstock.

19. Kabocha Squash Soba Noodle Bowl

Kabocha Squash Soba Noodle Bowl
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
Squash:
1 small kabocha squash
1 green bell pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp salt

Noodles:
4 ounces of buckwheat noodles, cooked according to package
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small head of bok choy

Sesame dressing:
¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp low-sodium tamari
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp raw honey

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 400℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Clean the squash and slice into thin strips. Slice the pepper and toss them on the baking tray with the coconut oil, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and salt. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked through, flipping halfway. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Toss together the noodles, scallions, and bok choy and dress with about half of the dressing. Serve the noodles in bowls topped with the squash, spinach, sesame seeds, and the remaining dressing. 

Anti-aging recipes from the 'Blue Zones' for a longer, healthier life.
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Shutterstock.

20. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica 

Nicoyans spend just 15% of what America does on health care and are more than twice as likely as Americans to reach a healthy age of 90 years. Faith and family play a strong role in Nicoyan culture. So does plan de vida, or reason to live, which helps Nicoyan elders maintain a positive outlook and active lifestyle. Nicoyans eat little to no processed foods but plenty of antioxidant-rich tropical fruit. But they also have 1 unique secret: calcium- and magnesium-rich water, which wards off heart disease and promotes strong bones.

These Centenarians seem to have enjoyed physical work of all their lives. They find joy in everyday physical chores. Modern Nicoyan’s roots to the indigenous Chorotega and their traditions have enabled them to remain relatively free of stress. Their traditional diet of fortified corn and beans may be the best nutritional combination for longevity the world has ever known. 

‘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 

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

Instructions
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

Ingredients
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)

Instructions
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

Ingredients
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

Instructions
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

Ingredients
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

Instructions
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.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/mediterranean-recipes
http://www.island-ikaria.com/about-ikaria/Ikarian-Food-Diet
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/blue-zones#section2
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/11/398325030/eating-to-break-100-longevity-diet-tips-from-the-blue-zones
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125071/
https://www.marthastewart.com/
https://thevibrantveggie.com/
http://www.cleanfooddirtycity.com/recipes/
https://www.tastyeverafter.com/

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