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Healthy Eating for a Healthy and Long Life

Do you think it’s finally time to review your diet and make some smart changes? By fixing your diet, you can cure and prevent many ailments and boost your mental health and overall physical health. So what are some areas in your diet that might need improvement and how can you fix your daily menu?

Eat more veggies

Probably the biggest menu item of people who live in so-called Blue Zones (zones statistically full of long-lived people) is vegetables. In most cases, over 90% of their food comes from plants. Instead of relying on animal protein, opt for beans, leafy greens, sweet potato, but also fruits, nuts and seeds. People in Blue Zones are not vegetarians or vegans, but they eat meat very rarely, usually only for special occasions.

Boosting the number of plant foods you eat daily has many beneficial effects. To increase your plant intake, you can aim for garden vegetables when they are in season, and when they are not, eat them pickled or dried. The best veggie foods in the Blue Zones are leafy greens (collard greens, turnip tops, chard, kale, spinach, etc.)

Buy the right protein

Long-lived people eat meat, but it comes from free-range animals that are eating only natural foods and are not loaded with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. For instance, goats of Costa Rica live freely and graze on grass, herbs and foliage while pigs in Sardinian and Icarian cuisine eat kitchen scraps and wild acorns and roots. This way, people get the protein that’s high on healthy fats. If you take protein powder for working out, you can also find versions with pasture-fed whey or with plant protein. All of them come in different flavors so you can enjoy your pre- or post-workout shakes without guilt.

Use more fish

In many of the Blue Zones, people eat plenty of fish throughout the week. You can also add more fish to your diet, especially species that are found in abundance. According to studies of the long-lived people, those who lived the longest were not vegans, vegetarians or meat-eaters—they were pescatarians (a plant-based diet that includes fish). Consider slowly introducing more fish into your menu, starting with a few ounces two or three times a week, which is possible for most people today.

Eat eggs regularly

Just like with meat, eggs are important sources of protein, but they are supposed to be consumed as a side dish to a dish loaded with whole-grain or any other plant food. If you need healthy ways to eat eggs, consider folding a fried egg into a tortilla, enjoying it with bread and olives or eating it with rice. Of course, when buying your eggs, opt for a free-range kind without hormones and antibiotics. Your eggs will provide you with protein, amino acids, vitamin A, B, D and E and selenium.

Switch to sourdough

Bread has been a staple food in most cultures for thousands of years. In places where people live until old age, bread is not exactly used for sandwiches, but it is enjoyed with most meals. However, don’t think you’re doing the right thing for your diet by eating regular store-bought bread. While white bread is full of sugar and empty calories, bread made with whole grains like rye, wheat and barley are full of nutrients, amino acids, selenium and magnesium. Switch to sourdough as soon as you can.

Reduce sugar intake

In today’s world, it’s not possible to completely ditch sugar, especially when it naturally occurs in fruit, vegetable and dairy, but natural sugars are not the real issue. What you should pay attention to is added sugar which is one of the main ingredients in many of our products. People who live a long life usually eat sweets but only for special occasions. Their diet has no added sugar and the only sweetener they use is natural honey. Residents of the Blue Zones usually consume just 7 teaspoons of sugar per day, while western people cross the 20 mark regularly. To eat less sugar, you can limit your consumption of sugary sweets to only a few times per week. You can avoid things with added sugar and watch the label of things that you buy and keep an eye on sugar content. If you often drink coffee and tea, limit the amount of honey or sugar you put inside.

Stay hydrated with the right beverages

Water, tea, coffee and wine are the best beverages a person can enjoy. Water is very easy to consume throughout the day and it offers hydration without added calories. In many areas where people live long and happy lives, coffee and tea are consumed every day. Coffee is connected to lower chances of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, while tea (especially green tea) lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer. Also, drinking red wine in moderation can deliver plenty of anti-oxidants to your body and reduce stress.

Are you ready to take a step in the right direction and tweak your diet? With these healthy food choices, you can significantly improve your health and prolong your life.