Based on our research with blue zones centenarians, the healthiest, longest-lived people in the world, we created these simple food guidelines to help people live better. Although the blue zones longevity hotspots were in very different parts of the world, they had similar eating patterns and lifestyles.
These are the four best foods to always have on hand and the four worst foods to avoid. The Always Foods are readily available, affordable, taste good, and are versatile to include in most meals. The Avoid Foods are those highly correlated with obesity, heart disease, or cancer, as well as constant temptations in the standard American diet.
Four Best and Worst Longevity Foods
We distilled more than 150 dietary surveys of the world’s longest-lived people to discover the secrets of a longevity diet.
These four best and four worst foods simplify the Blue Zones food guidelines: Favor beans, greens, root vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. People in four of the five “Blue Zones” consume meat, but they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavor dishes.
- 100% Whole Grains: Farro, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur, cornmeal
- Nuts & Seeds: A handful a day
- Beans, Legumes, Pulses: A cup of cooked beans / pulses per day
- Fruits and Vegetables: 5-10 servings per day
FOUR TO AVOID:
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Empty calories
- Salty Snacks (Potato chips, Cheese doodles, etc): Too much salt and preservatives
- Packaged Sweets (Candy, Packaged cookies and sweets): Empty calories, preservatives, additives
- Processed Meats (Bacon, Sausage, Cold cuts): Linked to cancer, heart disease
For Whole Grains: You can include 100% whole grain pasta and bread in this category, but the whole grains (like the ones listed above) are preferable.
For Beans: We include all pulses and legumes in this category, including chickpeas, lentils, broad beans, and green beans.
For Nuts: You can include seeds in this category, as they are also common in blue zones regions.
For Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: This includes the fancy coffee drinks so popular all over America. Try to drink unsweetened coffee or tea, or slowly reduce the amount of sugar you use. We don’t include smoothies in this category if you eat them as a light meal.