The Blue Zone diet is a healthy blend of different kind of foods. Check out the health benefits of the Blue Zone diet.

Are you at risk of developing a health condition or disease? Your diet may be one of the reasons why your health is compromised. Try to follow the Blue Zone diet, which emerged from the work of Dan Buettner. About two decades ago, the author and his team identified five areas in the world where people live healthier and longer lives. The Blue Zone is not a scientific term. It popped up after the team drew blue circles on a map that highlighted places of extreme longevity. They started calling the areas inside the circle the blue zone. Read on to learn more about the Blue Zone diet and its benefits.

What is the Blue Zone diet?

The Blue Zone diet, inspired by the eating habits of individuals in regions where people lived longer than others, prioritises plant-based foods. The zone consists of Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California) where fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts are the primary source of food, says dietician Preeti Nagar. It also includes moderate amounts of fish and seafood, very little meat and dairy, and an emphasis on food that is fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced. Also, this diet encourages drinking plenty of water, moderate consumption of wine (particularly red wine), and herbal teas.

Woman eating vegetables
Blue Zone diet may lead to a longer lifespan. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

The diet is not just about food choices, it’s also about lifestyle practices that contribute to longevity, such as regular physical activity, strong social connections, and stress reduction techniques.

What are the benefits of the Blue Zone diet?

The Blue Zone diet offers several benefits, which are believed to contribute to the longevity and health of people living in these areas.

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1. Increases longevity

The diet is rich in antioxidants and nutrients from plant-based sources, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. It may help you lead a longer lifespan, the expert tells Health Shots.

2. Improves heart health

With its emphasis on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats from nuts and fish, the diet promotes good cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

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3. Weight management

High in fibre and low in processed foods and unhealthy fats, the Blue Zone diet can help maintain a healthy weight. It promotes satiety as well as reduces calorie intake.

4. Reduces risk of chronic diseases

The diet is all about nutrient-dense foods. So, it can lower the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

5. Promotes digestion

The fibre content in plant-based foods supports a healthy digestive system and microbiome.

Each of these points reflects how a balanced, nutrient-rich diet combined with a healthy lifestyle can have profound effects on one’s overall well-being.

How to start the Blue Zone diet?

Even though you don’t stay in these areas, you can follow the Blue Zone diet. Starting this diet involves making gradual changes towards a more plant-based, whole-food diet. Here’s a simple meal plan to give you an idea of what a day on the Blue Zone diet could look like:

1. Breakfast

Start with a bowl of porridge with almonds, fresh berries, and honey drizzled on top. If you want more fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, you may also add a teaspoon of flax seeds.

2. Mid-morning snack

Eat fruits like an apple or a handful of almonds, but don’t overeat them, says the expert.

3. Lunch

In the afternoon, go for a big salad seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil that includes mixed greens, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese. Cut into a piece of wholegrain bread to go with it.

4. Evening snack

Eat carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus a few hours after lunch.

5. Dinner

Have quinoa or brown rice, grilled salmon, or lentil stew served with a side of steamed veggies (broccoli or spinach).T

he Blue Zone diet is meant to be a long-term lifestyle strategy. It’s designed to last over time and become a seamless part of your everyday routine. Since the intention is to adopt these healthy eating habits and lifestyle practices throughout the duration of your life, there is no time limit.

Woman carrying a basket of vegetables
Blue Zone diet is meant to be a long-term lifestyle strategy. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

What are the side effects of the Blue Zone diet?

Though most people agree that this diet is extremely healthy, like with any dietary modification, there could be adverse effects, especially in the beginning.

Here are some of the side effects –

1. Digestive changes

Until your digestive system adjusts, increasing your intake of fibre through fruits, vegetables, and legumes may result in bloating. There may be changes in your bowel movements too.

2. Nutrient deficiencies

Inadequate planning may result in a deficiency in some nutrients, like vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Some of these nutrients are commonly present in animal products.

3. Headaches

When the body transitions to a cleaner diet with less processed food and sweets, some people may experience headaches or lethargy, says the expert.

It’s critical to adjust your diet in a way that is sustainable and feasible for you.

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