The Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet is omnivore-based with a heavy vegetarian focus. Known and named for its significant research and extensive scientifically-backed data, the five different Blue Zones globally have been established as human health and longevity centers. These Blue Zones include Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.
Allowing for advanced, healthy aging, many Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet people reach the age of 100 years or older while still living normal lives. This unique situation where so many centenarians exist in Blue Zone places is nearly 10 times greater than average centenarian rates in the United States. Since these Blue Zone areas have been established, teams of expert anthropologists, demographers, epidemiologists, and other scientific researchers have continued to study and identify the lifestyle characteristics that better explain healthy longevity.
Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet – Ingredients/Nutrition Including Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants, Protein, Fiber, Carbs, Fats/Oils, Spices, Hydration
Involving a diverse array of up to 95% (for some, more) high-fiber, healthy, plant-based foods, the Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet takes advantage of clean, whole, wild, organic, nutritional ingredients. Popular dishes incorporate properly processed and cooked, vitamin-and-mineral-infused, nutrient-rich vegetables. Veggies like spinach, kale, and other leafy greens, peas, cauliflower, squash, beets, turnips, chard, collard greens, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, radish, avocado, carrots, garlic, onions, cucumber, sweet potatoes (yams), and the like. Adding to the cornucopia are vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant-rich mixed fruits. Blueberry, lemons, limes, papayas, pineapples, bananas, strawberry, oranges, raspberry, blackberry, cherry, apples, peaches, pears, coconut, and such are common.
Commonplace spices and herbs include basil, turmeric, paprika, bay leaves, red pepper, sea salt, pepper, etc.
Good fats/oils are anti-inflammatory, reduce cholesterol, contain vital nutrients & antioxidants, and help maintain overall long-term health. Extra virgin olive oil (cold-pressed) is a staple Omega 6 and 9 monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Cold-pressed flaxseed oil with lignan is a solid Omega 3 fatty acids choice, containing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and DHA/EPA. Extra virgin avocado oil is an especially good saturated fat for high heat (sparingly) cooking/baking.
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates (carbs) are almost non-existent. Keep sugar to no more than 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of added sugar daily. The best choices are honey, blackstrap molasses, or raw, whole sugar. Avoid any product that lists sugar among its first five ingredients. Bread is typically sourdough or 100% whole wheat. In Sardinia and Ikaria, breads use more diverse whole grains like wheat, rye, or barley.
Blue Zone Protein Sources
Protein is mostly derived from different legumes/beans, lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo), black-eyed peas, fava beans, soybeans (tofu/traditional & tempeh/natto/fermented), quinoa, oats, barley, whole grains, nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, etc., and seeds. People who stick to the Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet typically eat meat (red meat, chicken, pork) roughly five times per month, and in reduced amounts relative to the standard western diet.
Middle-of-the-food-chain species like salmon (especially deep water pacific), sardines (omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid/DHA & eicosapentaenoic acid/EPA fatty acids), anchovies, and cod that are not exposed to high levels of mercury or other harmful chemicals are commonplace choices roughly 3 times per week for seafood and fish.
Eggs and dairy are kept to a minimum. Usually no more than two to four times per week and also in smaller quantities. Cows milk is much less consumed in favor of goat and sheep products. Fermented products are favored, like yogurt and kefir, to assist with positive/good gut bacteria/flora, intestinal health, and immunity.
Staying Hydrated the Blue Zone Way
People in Blue Zones regularly drink lots of clean water. They also consume coffee, tea (particularly green & black), kombucha, and wine, particularly red. Alcohol, like with most everything regarding the Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet, is ingested in moderation.
Moderation – The Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet
Overeating is frowned upon. Many Blue Zone people live by the 80% full rule, also called hara hachi bu. The general idea is to stop eating when you feel 80% full. Of course, consistent, daily exercise (cardio and resistance/weightlifting/isometrics) and balanced lifestyle choices (proper sleep, relationships/socializing, emotional health, spirituality/soul searching, etc.) are also vital to help keep stress and unbalance to a minimum.
Moderation to maintain minimal stress also includes hobbies. Gardening and being out in nature are two common activities. Finding a healthy hobby can help one’s body and mind stay active and engaged.
For most people, successfully implementing and living the Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet means using food as medicine which leads to a reduced need to deal with and manage obesity (childhood and adult) and excessive weight loss and gain. As well, it increases the likelihood of efficient and effective organ (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) functioning. Genes/genetics definitely play a strong role in things, but the overall balanced nature of the diet allows for maintaining optimal weight through a healthy, consistent metabolism & bacterial gut health (immunity).
The Blue Zone diet encourages and fosters moderation, helping keep stress and disease (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc. and possibly even Coronavirus/COVID-19) in check while improving sleep and mental health. This allows the human body to function at optimally balanced levels for the short and long terms.
Furthermore, the Blue Zone Mediterranean Diet can offer low-carb diet or low-fat diet versions, adding to its diversity and overall flexibility.
The Blue Zone Meditteranean Diet & Body Type
However, physical health and body type matter. More to the point, posture (vertebrae/spinal extension), muscles/muscle mass, and any lack of development thereof. Which of The Four Body Types you are will further affect variables like skinny fat including normal weight obesity, thin fat, cellulite, crepey skin, and loose/saggy skin.
Skinny fat will also directly affect BMI and metabolism (BMR) — and to at least some degree aging — as well as how you experience the obesity weight loss and gain roller coaster ride, disease, stress, inflammation, immunity (including positive bacteria/gut microbiome health), enteric brain/second brain (gut feeling), affordable healthcare, and your health as a whole.
On a side note: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (medium-chain triglyceride, MCT — possible internal health benefits — and saturated fat) – An effective external moisturizer for skin, hair, and nails. Using a small amount, gently massage directly into skin and nails. For dry and/or frizzy hair, apply a small amount to the hair shaft and leave in for desired time (a few minutes to overnight), then wash out. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is great to add to your skin, hair, and nail care routine.