The Blue Zones Diet and the Role of Whole Grains 

In pockets of the world, select groups of people are successfully improving their longevity and maintaining their health, compared to the rest of the population. Known as “Blue Zones,” these areas support health-boosting lifestyles primarily due to what and how the populations eat, move and socialize, according to a growing body of research.   

Researchers have ranked the top five Blue Zones around the world as: 

  • Sardinia, Italy 
  • Okinawa, Japan 
  • Ikaria, Greece 
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica 
  • Loma Linda, California 

Those who live in Blue Zones consume a diet comprised of a variety of four main food staples: whole grains, beans, greens, and nuts – many of which are native to the Blue Zones region. Researchers studied 155 dietary surveys conducted in all five Blue Zones over the past 100 years, and found that the inhabitants’ diets, which are primarily whole-food and plant-based, contribute to their longevity.  

“What fascinates me about the Blue Zones eating habits, lifestyle, and outlook on life is the fact that it’s not about food restrictions or a magic solution, but about enjoying their native foods,” says Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, CPT. “Whether it’s tofu in Okinawa, pasta and bread in Sardinia, or vegetarian meals in Loma Linda – preparing and eating meals with friends and family, keeping active, and having a positive attitude that radiates joy are the tools to their longevity.” 

The primary foods consumed in Blue Zones are nutrient-dense whole foods. “This diet has a powerhouse of antioxidants, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, plenty of B complex vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E and essential minerals,” says Klinger.