What The Blue Zone Diet Tells Us About The Benefits Of
Updated 7th March 2023
Are you looking for an excuse to enjoy the health benefits of The Mediterranean Diet and a healthy life? Look no further than the Blue Zone, an area identified by researchers as having higher concentrations of individuals who live past 100 years.
Beyond these impressive feats of longevity, these locals also enjoy energetic lives which are heavily reliant on one dietary staple: The Mediterranean Diet. Incorporating traditional Greek cuisine, seafood-rich Italian fare and robustly spiced Moroccan dishes into your diet not only helps promote well being but can reduce chronic illnesses like heart disease too!
This blog post will explore the health benefits that come from consuming a Mediterranean Diet, including a quality extra virgin olive oil in greater detail.
1/ The Nine Common Traits of Blue Zone Communities
A new report from Kake.com reminds us that residents of these unique communities, or ‘blue zones’ around the globe live long and heathy lives, up to and past 100. They share a common environment and lifestyle that scientists believe contribute to their longevity. The report explains the 9 common traits of a Blue Zone community, saying:
‘People in blue zones walk, garden and bike as part of their daily lives. They are close to friends and family, have a purpose in life, handle stress well, and are often members of a social or religious group. They eat a plant-based diet and stop eating before they are full.’Kake.com
Dan Buettner, who first brought blue zones into the public consciousness with his National Geographic articles and later books, doesn’t like to call the blue zone eating pattern a “diet.” Instead, it’s partof a healthy lifestyle, Buettner said, one that he believes anyone can copy, no matter where they live and eat — even in highly processed, food-obsessed cultures such as the United States.
“The blue zone eating pattern is 98% plant-based foods — whole food-based and high carbohydrate. But only complex carbs, not the simple carbs like salty snacks and candy bars and soda pop,” Buettner told CNN. “You say carbohydrates and people are horrified, but the healthiest foods in our food system are complex carbohydrates.”
A new report from Everydayhealth shows us just how important a healthy diet with healthy fats like olive oil is in contributing to longevity and reduced rates of chronic illness.
2/ Why Is Diet So Important For Longevity And How Does The Best Olive Oil Help?
When it comes to how healthy and long-lasting your life will be. The Mediterranean diet, in particular, is proven to have positive effects on your health both in the short and long term. This diet emphasizes healthy fats, nuts, legumes and whole grains as well as a portion of lean proteins. It also features fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like olives. Eating a healthy diet that incorporates all of these elements can lead to fewer metabolic issues over time, which can result in improved longevity and wellbeing.
The five key places identified by researchers where inhabitants live longer are: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. Inhabitants of these areas are 10 times more likely to reach their 100th birthday than the average person in the United States. So how do they do it?
As explained by Everydayhealth, diet is one of the major factors experts believe is responsible for this phenomenon. While there are differences among the diets followed by people in the various blue zones, some common threads have been identified.
Among the dietary habits they share, for instance, are:
- They’re mindful of how they feel and eat until they are about 80 percent full.
- Their diets are 95 to 100 percent plant-based, and include plenty of beans and nuts along with fruits and vegetables.
They follow a diet that composed of approximately 65 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, and 15 percent proteins.
3/ Ten Ways Blue Zone Diets With Olive Oil May Help You Live Longer
At Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we have been studying nutritional habits in The Blue Zone for some time. And we love bringing you simple and digestible reasons that following these nutritional choices, infused with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, will benefit your health long term. So, according to Everydayhealth, here are 10 science-backed ways the blue zones diet could improve your health.
4/ The Polyphenols In Blue Zones Diet May Help You Live Longer
Polyphenols are Plant-based micronutrients that are essential for the body and have a ton of health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. A quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains approximately 200 compounds that make up the polyphenol content, making extra virgin olive oil especially helpful in providing these nutrients. A diet rich in extra virgin olive oil may help protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer, as well as having anti-microbial properties which can support healthy digestion. When looking for extra virgin olive oil, make sure to check both the label and the contents so you know you’re getting maximum benefit from all those polyphenols.
It’s hardly surprising this one is listed first. It’s what we all want to hear isn’t it? And it’s all about the polyphenols! Inhabitants of the Blue Zones tend to eat a lot of plant-based foods, which contain compounds known as polyphenols that have been linked to a number of health benefits. Want to read more about polyphenols and extra virgin olive oil? Look no further than Morocco Gold. It’s one of our favourite topics!
5/ The Blue Zones Diet May Help You Lose Weight
The emphasis on plant-based foods in The Blue Zones Diet, including extra virgin olive oil as your primary fat, may lead to weight loss. Not only do plant-based foods make you feel fuller, but they can pass through your digestive system without being fully absorbed, contributing to weight loss, according to one study.
The blue zones’ 80 percent rule, or eating until you are no longer hungry rather than until you are full, could also support weight loss.
6/ The Blue Zones Diet May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Problems
A good diet is crucial for heart and cardiovascular system health, and choosing more plant-based foods and fewer animal foods can help. In addition, people in the blue zones frequently snack on nuts, and research has found that doing so may lower your risk of a heart attack. Plus, another study found that U.S. adults with diets higher in fiber had a lower risk of high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a key risk factor for developing heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
7/ The Blue Zones Diet May Reduce Your Risk of Some Types of Cancer
At Morocco Gold, we’ve often talked about how extra virgin olive oil could reduce your risk of some types of Cancer. The blue zones diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, and a study of that diet found it may lower your risk of breast cancer. The focus on whole grains you get with the blue zones diet could also lower your risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in February 2021. And a meta-analysis found that high-fiber diets can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
8/ The Blue Zones Diet May Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The health benefits of fiber is a recurring theme when it comes to the blue zones diet. “From a chronic disease standpoint, fiber helps regulate blood sugar,” says Selvi Rajagopal, MD, MPH, an internal medicine and obesity specialist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. An umbrella review published in Nutrients found that the high fiber content of plants and whole foods could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
9/ The Blue Zones Diet May Help You Sleep Better
Many of us could benefit from sleeping better and sleeping longer. Those are two areas where the blue zones diet can help. It’s loaded with high-fiber beans and vegetables, and a meta-analysis of 20 studies found that diets like the blue zones diet — rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and anti-inflammatory nutrients — are associated with better sleep quality. Another study found an association between a Mediterranean-style diet — similar to the blue zones diet — and adequate sleep duration and less insomnia.
10/ The Blue Zones Diet – And The Best Olive Oil – May Control Inflammation
There is a wealth of evidence to show that choosing a quality extra virgin olive oil can help reduce inflammation. In addition, the fiber in the blue zones diet fights cellular inflammation, which plays a role in many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and depression. In fact, research published in Nature Medicine indicated that chronic inflammatory diseases may be partly responsible for more than half of deaths worldwide.
A meta-analysis published in Nutrition Reviews found that people who ate a high-fiber had lower inflammation.
11/ The Blue Zones Diet May Keep Your Gut Bacteria Healthy
Soluble fiber is really important for feeding our good gut bacteria. A good balance of gut bacteria is important for regulating so many different processes in the body. In a study published in Genome Medicine in June 2021, participants who ate more fiber saw a healthy shift their gut bacteria.
12/ The Blue Zones Diet May Fight Depression
The blue zones diet may support your mental health as well as your physical health. A study published in Nutrients in November 2021 found that people who ate a high-fiber diet had fewer symptoms of depression. Total fiber and fiber from vegetables and fruits in particular were beneficial.
One theory researchers had as to why this might be the case is that fiber helps keep the collection of beneficial bacteria in your gut, known as the microbiome, healthy and thriving. There is some evidence that those bacteria may play a role in the development of anxiety and depression, so a steady supply of fiber from a variety of sources, as in the blue zones diet, could help regulate those bacteria.
13/ The Blue Zones Diet May Help Your Mind Stay Sharp as You Age
Similarly, the healthy changes in your gut microbiome that come from the blue zones way of eating could lead to other cognitive benefits. A study published in Gut in 2020 found that a diet like the blue zones diet that improves the health of the gut microbiome and reduces cellular inflammation may help ward off the cognitive signs of aging. Other research has also found an association between plant-based diets like the blue zones diet and a lower risk of cognitive impairment in elderly populations.
14/ Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Increased Longevity
A new study claims that daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil may contribute to the extraordinary longevity of a small population on the island of Sardinia.
According to a report in The Olive Oil Times, the new research explains that – in one of the Longevity Blue Zones (areas where an unusual number of people live exceptionally long lives) – specific eating habits in addition to extensive daily physical activities have ‘outrun genetics’ as a longevity factor.
Giovanni Pes, Medical Science Researcher at University of Sassari (where the study was carried out), said: “As expected, the analysis showed a beneficial health effect of the increased olive oil intake on self-perceived health, physical performance and sense organs functionality.”
After initially focussing on the history of the island of Sardinia, isolated from mainland Italy, with its homogenous genetic history, researchers looked at other explanations for the exceptional longevity of its population.
Our research, as well as many others, carried out here and elsewhere, hint at the fact that there is no direct correlation between genetic characteristics of the observed population and their longevity. Lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity and social bonding must have played a more significant role in determining the Longevity Blue Zone characteristics than genetics.Giovanni Pes, Medical Science Researcher at University of Sassari
The study looked at those traits in a sample of 150 of the island’s oldest residents – aged between 90 and 101 years.
“Our research focused on their food choices at younger ages, investigating their dietary history,” Pes said.
“While all limits on research based on the memory of the interviewed sample must be considered, we believe that during their nutrition transition, their eating habits have improved because they ate similarly to the Mediterranean diet.”
The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart. Could the use of olive oil a day help with good health?
As explained by The Olive Oil Times, over the last few decades, olive oil production has been expanding in Ogliastra, which sits at the heart of the Longevity Blue Zone. High quality extra virgin olive oil is now produced and consumed by the local residents.
15/ Extra Virgin Olive Oil May Delay Age-Related Disease
A study has shown that Extra Virgin olive oil like Morocco Gold is the secret Mediterranean ingredient that can extend life and delay age-related diseases when combined with fasting
Scientists at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics revealed their findings in Molecular Cell.
It had been previously believed red wine was the reason for long life and good health among those living in the Mediterranean, thanks to its compound resveratrol that activates a pathway in cells for a positive influence on the body. However, lead author of the study Professor Doug Mashek has proved otherwise.
During his research, which has been published in Science Daily, he discovered that the fat in Extra Virgin olive oil is actually the ingredient that activates this pathway instead. However, having a diet rich in premium olive oil only goes so far to improve health, according to the researchers. For maximum benefits, it needs to be coupled with limiting caloric intake and exercising.
Mr Mashek stated: “We found that the way this fat works is it first has to get stored in microscopic things called lipid droplets, which is how our cells store fat. And then, when the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signalling and beneficial effects are realised.”
Therefore, fasting or taking part in physical activity is essential to make the most of extra virgin olive oil’s health benefits.
These findings could encourage more people around the world – and not just those living in the Mediterranean – to increase their olive oil intake by including it in their recipes and using it to cook with.
“We want to understand the biology, and then translate it to humans, hopefully changing the paradigm of healthcare from someone going to eight different doctors to treat his or her eight different disorders,” he commented, adding: “These are all aging-related diseases, so let’s treat aging.”
Over the years, there have been several studies that have concluded extra virgin olive oil has numerous health benefits. This is predominantly due to its phytonutrients, including polyphenols, which are found in olive oil in abundance. This antioxidant neutralises free radicals, helping to protect the body against harm.
As a result, research has shown links between Extra virgin olive oil and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, good digestive health, reduction in blood pressure, healthy cholesterol levels, lessening the severity of osteoporosis, and preventing the onset of diabetes.
It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory, while animal studies have shown a connection between olive oil and the prevention of some cancers. While more research needs to be conducted to prove this link, the European Food Safety Agency has confirmed health claims for extra virgin olive oils that contain more than 250mg/kg of polyphenol.
Our latest and freshest 2021 harvest of Morocco Gold has the highest ever level of polyphenols at 644mg/kg.
So get drizzling it on your salad, baking with it, or adding it to your roast potatoes today!