Centenarians are living longer because of their lifestyle.
The Blue Zones are five longevity hotspots around the world where people are thriving into their 100s. In these long-lived communities where people live longer and better, (Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California), the Fountain of Youth is flowing.
Dietitian Liz Weiss shares their secret, and five tips for living like a centenarian.
How to Live Like a Centenarian
- Eat a Plant-Slant Diet: A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, outstand whole grains provides plant protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that fight chronic disease and promote overall wellness. Meat and dairy, if consumed, are eaten in moderation.
- Eat Beans Daily: In the Blue Zones, people eat an average of ½ cup beans every day. Beans provide protein, fiber, potassium, folate, and magnesium among other nutrients. Beans are versatile, convenient (use canned for the ultimate in ease), and they make their way into everything from tacos and soups to hearty chili.
- Honor the 80% Rule: In some Blue Zone communities, they practice eating until they are 80% full. That mindful approach to portion control is good for digestion and helps maintain a healthy body weight, thus reducing the risk of obesity-related diseases.
- Eat Meals Together: The act of sharing meals with loved ones is a cornerstone of the Blue Zones lifestyle. Gathering with family and friends provides emotional and physical nourishment and strengthens a sense of community. September is National Family Meals Month, so now’s a good time to commit to eating together more often.
- Natural Movement: Structured exercise is not typically practiced in the Blue Zones. Instead, natural movement is integrated into daily life, including things like walking, gardening, and simply staying active.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
Makes 5 Servings
This Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili calls for multiple vegetables, including sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, canned tomatoes, and corn. And it calls for beans, a cornerstone of a Blue Zone lifestyle. It’s an easy meal that’s great for a family dinner.
- One medium sweet potato (11 ounces), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (2cups)
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice (1 generous cup)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and cut into thin rounds (reserve about ¼ cup for a topping)
- 1 26-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey, optional
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, optional
Topping options: cilantro, plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, green onion, avocado
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the sweet potatoes and red bell peppers in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Toss halfway through.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a Dutch oven or saucepan over low heat. Add the green onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes.
- Raise the heat, add the tomatoes, water, beans, corn, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cooked sweet potatoes and bell peppers and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lime zest. Add the honey and cilantro to taste and as desired. Serve with optional toppings.