Are you familiar with the Blue Zone? If not, it is a selection of regions around the globe where residents live unusually long and have minimal risk for disease. They are healthier than most people, and it is believed a large part of that has to do with the foods they eat.
It is important to note, however, that Blue Zones don’t all have the same foods available to them. In Okinawa, a Japanese region made up of a group of islands in the East China Sea, residents have the longest life expectancy in the world. The islands are believed to hold a record number of people over 100, and the average age for males and females is 84 and 90, respectively.
Here are some foods that are staples in the region.
- Tofu: Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein to help build and maintain healthy cells, and is also capable of reducing cholesterol.
- Sweet potato: Sweet potato is a rich source of vitamin A and other antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation. When consumed whole (with skin) it is a good source of fiber that can aid digestion and heart health, while also helping to regulate blood sugar.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is a powerful spice that is associated with a number of health benefits like potentially delaying dementia and lowering inflammation. In Okinawa, it is used in teas and as a common spice and is consumed almost daily.
- Shitake mushrooms: Used in soups and more, these mushrooms can help build immune strength.
- Seaweed: Seaweed is another fixture in the diet, and it is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals. It is rich in magnesium that can help improve heart health and benefit sleep; iodine for thyroid health; calcium for bone health; as well as carotenoid antioxidants.
Diet alone isn’t supplying the health and longevity to the residents of this Blue Zone, but it surely plays a part. Making healthy food decisions every day might improve your quality of life and extend it, too.