Top Reasons Why Blue Zones Are The Healthiest Places To Live

holistic health May 22, 2022


Dan Buettner and his team were studying areas of the world in which people live exceptionally long lives. When they searched for these areas, they drew blue circles on a map around the regions with some of the world’s oldest people.  Buettner decided to call these areas “Blue Zones.” The term now refers to geographic areas in which people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else in the world.

These Are The Five Cities With The Healthiest People In the World

In his book called The Blue Zones, Buettner described five known Blue Zones:

  • Icaria (Greece): Icaria is an island in Greece where people eat a mediterranean diet.
  • Ogliastra, Sardinia (Italy): The Ogliastra region of Sardinia is home to some of the oldest men in the world. They live in mountainous regions where they typically work on farms.
  • Okinawa (Japan): Okinawa is home to the world’s oldest women, who eat a lot of soy based foods and practice tai chi.
  • Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica): The Nicoyan diet is based around beans and corn tortillas. The people of this area regularly perform physical jobs into old age.
  • The Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California (USA): The Seventh-day Adventists are a very religious group of people. They’re strict vegetarians and live in tight-knit communities.

It’s More Than Just Genetics, It’s A Lifestyle

Studies have found that genetics only play a 20–30% role in longevity. So it is worthwhile to study how those in these Blue Zones live. Below are some of the diet and lifestyle factors that are common to people who live in Blue Zones.

Blue Zones Eat A Predominantly Plant Based Diet 

One very important thing common to all Blue Zones is that they primarily eat a 95% plant-based diet. Most groups are not strict vegetarians, they only tend to eat meat around five times per month (or less). Although residents in Loma Linda, with the strictest vegetarian and vegan diets, and who also abstain from alcohol live the longest out of all the Blue Zones.

What does a “Blue Zone” Eating Lifestyle Look Like?

Diets in the Blue Zones are typically rich in fiber and all share in these foods: 

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Eating 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and death. 
  • Legumes: include beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas, and they are all rich in fiber and protein. A number of studies have shown that eating legumes is associated with lower mortality.
  • Whole grains: A high intake of whole grains can reduce blood pressure and is associated with reduced colorectal cancer and death from heart disease. 
  • Nuts: a great source of fiber, protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Combined with a healthy diet, they’re associated with reduced mortality and may even help reverse metabolic syndrome. 

People Who Live In Blue Zones Have Holistic Health Practices

There are some other factors that define each of the Blue Zones.

  • If they do eat meat, it is usually wild caught fish. (in Icaria and Sardinia) Wild caught fish is associated with slower brain decline in old age and reduced heart disease. 
  • They practice calorie restriction. Okinawans tend to follow the 80% rule, which they call “hara hachi bu.” This means that they stop eating when they feel 80% full, rather than 100% full.
  • They practice fasting.  Icarians are typically Greek Orthodox Christians, a religious group that has many periods of fasting for religious holidays throughout the year.  Fasting has been shown to reduce weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and many other risk factors for chronic disease.
  • For all the Blue Zones, exercise is built into their daily lives through gardening, walking, cooking and other daily chores. Studies have shown that regular light exercise reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and overall death.
  • People in Blue Zones get sufficient sleep and also often take daytime naps. Getting enough sleep is important for living a long and healthy life
  • Blue Zones are typically religious communities. A number of studies have shown that being religious is associated with a lower risk of death. 
  • Those in Blue Zones have a healthy social network and sense of community. 

The Blue Zone regions are home to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. They mostly eat a plant-based diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and have good spiritual, family and social networks. Each of these lifestyle factors has been shown to be associated with a longer life.



Buettner, Dan. (2009). The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. 

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