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Eating these foods may be a reason why some people live to 100

07.07.2023 07:47 AM
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Eating these foods may be a reason why some people live to 100
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Eating these foods may be a reason why some people live to 100

The pursuit of a longer life has captivated individuals worldwide, leading some to adopt lifestyles centered on a special diet. These dietary choices are based on observations of certain societies where people tend to live significantly longer than the average lifespan. Notably, author Dan Buettner has extensively studied these regions, known as "blue zones," which encompass communities where individuals enjoy long and healthy lives. According to a CNN report, the average lifespan in these regions can reach up to 100 years.

The inhabitants of these blue zones share a unique environment and lifestyle, including a predominantly vegetarian diet. Scientists believe that this dietary choice plays a vital role in their exceptional longevity. Blue zones have been discovered in various locations, such as Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Loma Linda in California, and Sardinia in Italy. In Sardinia, for instance, one of the initial groups of centenarians studied, garbanzo soup (made from chickpeas and beans) is a cherished favorite.

Garbanzo soup, which contains one of the primary ingredients consumed by Sardinians more than once a day, provides them with the benefits of beans on a regular basis. Dan Buettner explains, "There are nine siblings whose collective age is 851 years. Throughout their lives, they consumed the same portion of sourdough bread and a small three-ounce glass of red wine every day."

But why legumes? Legumes, a family of plants that includes beans, provide essential nutrients like copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, zinc, and lysine—an essential amino acid. They are also rich in protein and fiber. "Fiber enhances the growth of healthy gut bacteria, reduces inflammation, and strengthens immune function," emphasizes Buettner, highlighting the fact that only a small percentage of Americans meet their required fiber intake.

 

Moreover, each type of bean possesses distinct nutritional properties, suggesting the importance of incorporating a variety of them into one's diet. For instance, aduki or red mung beans contain more fiber than many other bean varieties, while fava beans are packed with the antioxidant lutein. Red and black kidney beans are excellent sources of potassium, and chickpeas are abundant in magnesium.

Beans not only provide vegetable protein but also offer a healthier alternative to animal protein due to their higher nutrient content and lower calorie density. "By combining beans with whole grains, you can obtain all the amino acids necessary for a nutritionally complete protein, similar to what is found in meat," advises Buettner.

In Nicoya, Costa Rica, a typical breakfast consists of the country's national dish—a combination of cooked beans with a meat sauce seasoned with onions, green peppers, and aromatic herbs like basil, thyme, and garlic.

The soluble fiber found in beans can effectively lower cholesterol levels and aid in the prevention of type 2 diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar. A study conducted in 2001 revealed that consuming beans four times a week reduced the risk of heart disease by 22 percent. Additionally, another study from 2004 indicated that individuals who consumed 20 grams of legumes daily lived nearly eight years longer on average.

Furthermore, beans contribute to weight loss. A 2016 review demonstrated that individuals who consumed up to 9 ounces (255 grams) of beans per day over a six-week period lost more weight compared to those who did not incorporate beans into their diet.

Apart from these numerous health benefits, beans and legumes are generally affordable and can even be cultivated at home, making them an ideal food source for economically disadvantaged populations seeking to enhance their longevity.

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