If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen a poll I ran on what to name this newsletter. The overwhelming consensus agreed on this: Eating to 100!
With the new name, comes a new look and the kind of content you’ve expressed you’d like to learn from me. As long as you’re subscribed, you can count on me to show up in your inbox every other week to share actionable insights from parts of the world I dubbed the Blue Zones — areas where higher concentrations of people not only live into old age… they thrive and can actually enjoy those added years.
I’ll plan to share cutting-edge articles on the science of living longer, interviews with the top longevity and happiness experts, and from time to time, my recommendation on products that are proven to support longevity.
Eating to 100 will be all about how, when, and what people in the Blue Zones eat, but it will also have more than that. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time or if you are familiar with the work I’ve done researching Blue Zones, then you know that living a long and healthy life is about more than diet.
After people read my books, they tend to say something along the lines of…
That’s great, Dan, but my life is nothing like that of the people living in Blue Zones. I have a stressful job where I sit down all day. I drive everywhere because hardly anything is within walking distance. I barely ever see my friends because we are all too busy. Sure, I could eat healthy, but is that enough?
That question right there is exactly why I started this newsletter. Now, while food alone isn’t the secret to longevity, it’s a major part and is likely one of the easiest elements of Blue Zones living to replicate. Not to mention, eating like a Blue Zones centenarian is delicious and cost-effective.
But there’s more to living and thriving into old age. It’s also about creating an environment supporting habits and modes of living that strongly correlate with a healthy lifestyle. I will certainly be talking about those things here as well!
Bottom line: While you might not live in a Blue Zone, with Eating to 100, you’ll certainly be able to start living and eating like you do.
Again, very glad you’re here. I’d be deeply grateful if you’d forward and share this newsletter with people who could benefit from it. Anyone can sign up to get Eating to 100 right here.
Here’s to your health!
Today I’m talking about a Blue Zones classic staple that I’ve promoted thousands of times by now: the humble bean.
Maybe at this point you’re rolling your eyes thinking “Yeah, Dan, I KNOW beans are healthy. You talk about them all the time.” But stick with me here. Maybe you know beans are a nutritional powerhouse, and maybe you’ve heard me and others say it before, but are you eating beans every day? Or even a few times per week?
Beans are the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world. Full stop.
Most people don’t eat enough beans (or fiber in general). Worse though, beans have been vilified by some popular diet trends, claiming that lectins in beans (naturally occurring proteins that are largely removed during the soaking and cooking process) are bad for you. Let’s debunk that myth right now.
Beans are rich in protein, fiber, amino acids, folate, crucial B-vitamins, as well as zinc, phosphorus, and manganese. Study after study finds that regular consumption of beans reduces risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, dementia, and a host of other diseases.
Considering beans are one of the most widely consumed foods in the Blue Zones, it’s hard to argue that beans are the cause of people’s health problems.
I recently shared this message on Instagram:
Beans are easy to add to any meal or even eat as a snack. You can do canned beans or dried. Maybe try a type of bean you’ve never tried before. The options are plentiful! If you’re not currently eating beans every day, challenge yourself to start by adding half a cup of beans to at least one meal per day, and work up from there.
Do you have a go-to bean recipe? Please share it! Comment on my Instagram and let me know!
People living in Blue Zones aren’t actively trying to cultivate habits for long life. Their environments are set up in ways that naturally support healthy behaviors. In this section of Eating to 100, I will share one simple habit you can incorporate into your life. Do it long enough, it becomes part of how you live. Build up enough of these habits, you’ll likely add years to your life and life to your years.
How about rethinking your breakfast? People in Blue Zones tend to start their day with something savory. If you like to start your day with sweet foods like bagels and cream cheese, donuts, or cereals and smoothies, then you’d be surprised by how a Blue Zones breakfast swap can change your energy levels for the day, as well as support long-term health benefits like stable blood sugar and weight reduction.
Try swapping your breakfast for a healthy Blue Zones-inspired nourishing meal. My suggestions: soup or oatmeal. Yes, soup for breakfast!
If I’m having soup for breakfast, I typically go with a minestrone that’s full of beans and vegetables. This meal is warming and helps me feel satisfied and energized for hours. Sometimes I’ll include some sliced avocado. If soup for breakfast sounds weird, give it a try and see how you feel!
I also enjoy oatmeal, but not quick cooking oats because they can spike blood sugar. I recommend steel-cut oats, which are high in soluble fiber and protein. I enjoy mine with soy milk, and sometimes I’ll add some dates and walnuts.
Hopefully after reading the health benefits of beans, you’re ready to try adding more beans to your diet. Today’s recipe is a very simple and delicious way to do that!
From The Blue Zones Challenge
Total Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes 3 servings
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups cooked black beans (or one 8-oz can black beans drained)
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
Salt and pepper (optional)
½ avocado, sliced for topping
Chilero hot sauce (optional as garnish)
Chopped cilantro (optional as garnish)
Sliced mango (optional as garnish)
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it starts to soften, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are browned.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce and beans; turn the heat to low and stir. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook and stir until the rice and beans are evenly distributed and are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with sliced avocado and, if desired, hot sauce, chopped cilantro, and sliced mango.
Having a strong sense of purpose is a defining characteristic of the Blue Zones. Okinawans call it ikigai. Nicoyans call it plan de vida. In my book The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest(second edition), I point to a study done by Dr. Robert Butler and collaborators, on the correlation between purpose and longevity. This 11-year study discovered that people who expressed a clear life goal lived longer and were sharper than those who did not.
The idea of purpose may feel elusive to many people. It’s important to remember that purpose does not need to be something big and grand.
It can be as simple as a hobby, learning an instrument, or wanting to experience children and grandchildren growing up. It can also be a job or a professional goal. Basically, your purpose is something you can dedicate yourself to that you feel fully immersed in.
If your purpose is something you find difficult to pinpoint, check out this article I wrote several years ago for AARP. It includes steps for identifying your purpose, and highlights what purpose looks like for Blue Zones centenarians.