Are you getting bored and tired of eating the same snacks every day? Are you on the hunt for healthy snack options because you want to start making lifestyle changes?
If you need some healthy snack inspiration, you may want to look to the Blue Zones, also known as the healthiest regions of the world. The Blue Zones contain the highest concentrations of centenarians who are known for having the healthiest habits of anyone on the globe.
While genetics most likely play a role in the life expectancy of these regions, research has also found that environmental factors like movement, community, stress levels, and diet play a key role as well. So when looking for healthier eating habits to add to your life, why not learn from the world’s longest-living people?
It is important to note that the Blue Zone communities actually don’t snack very often, or at least not as often as most Americans. They eat their largest meal in the morning, and their smallest meal at night. Once they’ve eaten dinner, they’re usually done eating for the day.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop snacking altogether just to be healthier. Instead, you can learn from the longest-living people by applying some of their eating patterns to your snack selections and replacing popular, highly-processed snack foods with healthier options.
Continue reading to learn more about some snack options inspired by the world’s longest-living communities, and for more healthy aging tips make sure to check out Diet Secrets of the Longest Living People in the World.
Nuts are a common staple in most of the Blue Zone communities. According to a National Geographic issue on the Blue Zones, the Adventists in Loma Linda who ate nuts daily were found to have a longer life expectancy, lower cholesterol rates, less inflammation, and lower blood pressure than those who didn’t eat nuts very often.
A report from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine states that all five Blue Zone communities are mostly plant-based and only consume meat on occasion. Because of this, they get the majority of their dietary fats from foods like nuts and olive oil.
Papaya is a daily staple for the people of Nicoya in Costa Rica and may easily be one of the healthiest foods they consume. Papayas are rich in vitamin C, E, and A, and according to National Geographic, they also contain papain, which is known to help reduce inflammation in the body.
One research review concluded that papain found in papayas also has anti-cancer properties and can break down the cancer cell walls. Papayas are also rich in lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant known to have many health benefits.
The longest-living people in the world all have a major dietary rule in common when it comes to bread: they don’t eat a lot of white bread. Instead, the Blue Zone communities enjoy whole grains, whole wheat bread, or sourdough.
If you’re going to make yourself a quick snack and are craving carbs, try making a piece of whole-wheat toast with avocado or your favorite nut butter on top.
The Adventist community of Loma Linda enjoys avocados on a regular basis. National Geographic states that this community gains extra potassium from their love of eating avocados, which helps keep their blood pressure to a minimum.
Avocados are also known to help with heart health as well. One 2019 research study from Penn State found that eating one avocado a day could help lower your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind of cholesterol).
Not only do Nicoyans love eating papaya on a daily basis, but they also snack regularly on bananas. This fruit is high in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.
Consuming enough fiber throughout the day is a crucial part of any healthy diet, and it’s something that all of the Blue Zone communities have in common. Fiber can help lower your risk of diabetes, help improve your heart health, and even help lower the risk of some cancers.
Try one of these 10 Healthiest Banana Recipes.
Chickpeas are eaten on a regular basis in Ikaria and Sardinia. Sardinians mostly eat their chickpeas in soups, but Ikarians roast them and eat them as a snack.
Chickpeas come with fiber, protein, and healthy fat, making them a well-balanced, plant-based snack. They have also been found to help with digestion, help lower your risk of some cancers, and help to lower cholesterol.
Black beans may seem like a strange choice for a snack at first, but eating some with your favorite seasoning in-between meals may help you get your daily serving.
Black beans are arguably one of the healthiest beans in the world, and maybe one of the healthiest foods in general. This plant-based protein source is also high in fiber, and they’ve been found to lower cholesterol, improve your digestion and gut health, help your brain and cognitive health, and help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Coffee is another staple in the world’s healthiest communities. However, it matters how you drink your morning cup of Joe. Most centenarians in these regions either drink it completely black or with just a little bit of cream. This helps prevent the overload of sugar that sometimes comes with popular specialty coffee drinks here in the U.S.
If you want a mid-morning pick-me-up, having a cup of coffee can give you a helpful boost of energy. Over time, regular coffee consumption (in moderation) can help reduce inflammation, lower your risk of some chronic illnesses, and even improve your heart health.
If you’re not much of a coffee drinker or want to avoid the larger amounts of caffeine, tea can be a healthy mid-day treat. The community of Okinawa in Japan drinks green tea on a regular basis, and according to National Geographic, they also regularly add jasmine and turmeric to their cup.
Green tea can help lower your risk of certain cancers, reduce inflammation in the body, help boost your metabolism, and even help improve your brain health over time. While green tea is one of the healthiest tea choices, many other black, and herbal teas come with plenty of health benefits as well.
Here are the Secret Effects of Drinking Green Tea, Says Science.