13 Blue Zone Recipes For Health & Longevity | Elizabeth Rider (2024)

13 Blue Zone Recipes For Health & Longevity | Elizabeth Rider (1)

I love finding simple ways to make healthier choices in everyday life, and these Blue Zones recipes check all of the boxes.

Plus, if these choices help us live to be 100 years old, that sounds pretty great to me!

Blue Zones are areas around the world where people tend to live the longest. They don’t just have longer lifespans, they have longer healthspans, which means they are healthy and able-bodied for much of their lives, even into their elder years.

Introducing these Blue Zone recipes into your kitchen is easier than you may think.

What Are The Blue Zones?

The idea of a longevity diet has intrigued researchers for years as they’ve tried to nail down why people in some parts of the world live longer than others.

Even more, people in these areas do not focus on strict dieting. They focus on whole, regional food and nothing is off limits so long as it doesn’t come from a lab.

The term “Blue Zone” first appeared in a National Geographic story by author Dan Buettner back in 2005 called, “The Secrets of a Long Life.” He coined the term and has done wonderful work to educate people about the benefits of the Blue Zones’ way of eating.

The article highlighted five places around the world with the highest number of centenarians or people who live to be 100+ years old.

The 5 Blue Zones Are:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California (specifically, a group of Seventh-day Adventists)

Food Secrets of Blue Zones

What do people eat in the Blue Zones? Some of the basic food secrets of Blue Zones include:

  • regularly eating legumes like chickpeas, beans, and lentils, up to 1 cup every day
  • eating whole, unprocessed grains; choose sourdough or 100% whole wheat breads
  • eating fresh, local vegetables or greens daily
  • moderately consuming healthy fats from foods like olive oil, fish, unprocessed dairy, and some meats
  • minimizing (but not eliminating) meat & dairy, meat and/or dairy is often consumed as a celebratory food or a small side dish; it’s also used to flavor other dishes
  • walking a lot; natural movement is part of daily life in the Blue Zones with no gyms necessary
  • red wine is consumed in moderation; however, if you don’t drink there’s no reason to start
  • enjoying food and meals with family and friends; community is key and perhaps even more important than some food choices

The Mediterranean Diet is a good representation of foods popular among the longest-lived people. It’s centered around fresh ingredients that are readily available instead of processed foods that are popular in many modern households.

Something I love about the concept of “The Blue Zone Diet” is that nothing is off the table. It has nothing to do with being gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan. All things are ok in moderation, as long as they didn’t come from a lab and you’re not allergic to it.

Fish is fine. So is alcohol, especially red wine, when consumed in moderation. However, the majority of the diet is plant-based.

What is the best thing about Blue Zone recipes? The best thing about Blue Zone recipes is that they’re easy and full of whole foods. Ingredients are locally sourced with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Top 13 Blue Zone Recipes

Easy Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon Recipe

This easy-baked lemon garlic salmon recipe is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and requires just a few ingredients. Get ready to fall in love with your new favorite (Blue Zone Recipe Approved!) weeknight dinner.

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tea Recipe (Golden Milk)

This turmeric tea, or golden milk for its bright yellow color, is all about healing inflammation and bringing a moment of mindfulness to your day. Reducing stress is a cornerstone of Blue Zone lifestyles.

This tea’s anti-inflammatory properties have proven health benefits going back to ancient India. It’s delicious, too. If you like chai tea lattes, you’ll love golden milk. I go for plant-based milk to cut any bitterness and to keep this one dairy-free.

In the Blue Zones, turmeric is a big part of Okinawan diets, used in everything from their teas to spice in their daily meals. We like to sip a small cup (3-4 ounces) before bed.

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How to Make Chia Pudding

While chia seeds do not originate from one of the 5 Blue Zones, they are still considered Blue Zone approved! Chia seeds are high in protein, full of fiber, and a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, chia seed pudding is easy and delicious.

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Pineapple Spinach Smoothie Recipe

This spinach smoothie is not only good for you, but it’s also absolutely delicious! It’s packed with vitamin C, essential minerals, fiber, plant enzymes, and hydration. If you love it please leave a star rating in the comments below to help other readers in our community.

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Easy Rainbow Fruit Salad Recipe

This easy fruit salad recipe is quick to make and full of nutrients and flavor. Plus, it’s beautiful. It’s a Blue Zone recipe that everyone will love.

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Healthy Mango, Avocado & Cucumber Salad

I Can’t. Stop. Eating. This. Mango, Avocado & Cucumber Salad. The flavors and textures in this salad are perfectly balanced, which is pretty exciting because it’s as good for you as it is delicious. Not only does it taste great, but this flavor-packed saladis ultra-hydrating, making it perfect to eat all year long.

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Everyone’s Favorite Vegetarian Chili Recipe

This classic vegetarian chili is a cool-weather staple in our house. It’s also super flexible! Add extra chopped carrots or peppers (or veggies), or an extra can of beans if you’d like. Top with your favorite chili toppings and you have a perfect meal (with leftovers for days). Minimize the cheese and sour cream to use this as a Blue Zone Recipe.

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Kale & Sweet Potato Hash Recipe For A 15-Minute Healthy Breakfast

Once you get the hang of how quick and easy this Kale & Sweet Potato Hash recipe is you’llwonder why you haven’t been making it for years. I usually have a smoothie for breakfast, but when I’m craving something warm and savory this is one of my healthy go-to’s.

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Layered Ratatouille Recipe {It’s Easy!}

This gorgeous, good-for-you baked ratatouille dish is super easy to make! I cook it low and slow for the best texture, but the hands-on time is minimal. Serve it warm out of the oven with a crusty baguette on the side – and maybe a sprinkling of fresh Parmaman cheese. Or try it over quinoa or farro. It’s delicious when paired with a cooked protein, like roast chicken.

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Loaded Veggie Hummus Wrap: The Perfect Lunch

This Loaded Veggie Hummus Wrap Recipe makes 2 to 4 (or more) wraps depending on how big your veggies are when you chop them. Be creative and use what you have on hand. Try to combine smooth textures with crunch textures, and don’t forget to dress your greens before adding them.

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Easy, Healthy Minestrone Soup Recipe

It doesn’t get any more Blue Zone Recipe approved than a big bowl of vegetarian minestrone soup! This soup is packed with healthy veggies and beans. Use whole wheat pasta noodles if you prefer to keep it ultra-healthy.

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Easy Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

This traditional red lentil soup recipe with lemon is the best lentil soup we’ve ever tried! It’s full of nutrients, fiber, protein, and hydration. You’ll want to make it over and over again.

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Buddha Bowl Recipe with Spicy Black Beans

We love this spicy black bean Buddha Bowl when we have extra rice or beans in the refrigerator to use up. The ingredients are flexible—add more or less of whatever you have on hand. This recipe is a great way to create your own Blue Zone Recipe and use up any rice, beans, quinoa or veggies that you already have prepared.

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A Final Word On Blue Zone Recipes

The Blue Zone diet is less about a diet overhaul and more about embracing the freshness around you. Eat local, recipe-planning based on what’s in season, and you’ll find yourself in line with those Blue Zone principles almost accidentally.

Personally, I love that it’s about looking at the whole person and reducing stress not only through food but through your mindset. That idea of little changes that connect back to an overall healthier lifestyle is something I explore in my book, The Health Habit.

What are your favorite Blue Zone strategies? Have you tried any of these recipes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

13 Blue Zone Recipes For Health & Longevity | Elizabeth Rider (2024)


What foods increase longevity in the blue zone? ›

The best of the best longevity foods in the Blue Zones diet are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards. In Ikaria more than 75 varieties of edible greens grow like weeds; many contain ten times the polyphenols found in red wine.

Do Blue Zones eat eggs? ›

Eggs are consumed in all five Blue Zones diets, where people eat them an average of two to four times per week. Cut down your consumption of cow's milk and dairy products such as cheese, cream, and butter. Try unsweetened soy, coconut, or almond milk as a dairy alternative.

What do they eat for breakfast in Blue Zones? ›

In blue zones regions, the routine is similar. Ideally, breakfast or the first meal of the day consists of protein, complex carbohydrates (beans or veggies) and plant-based fats (nuts, seeds, oils) and a majority of the day's calories are consumed before noon.

What do Blue Zones eat for dinner? ›

The best-of-the-best longevity foods are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards. Combined with seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans dominate blue zones meals all year long. Many oils derive from plants, and they are all preferable to animal-based fats.

What is the number one food for longevity? ›

While longevity foods come from a variety of different food groups (which is key for promoting overall nutrient diversity), one overarching principle of diets linked to long life is that they consist predominantly of whole or minimally processed, nutrient-dense plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and ...

How often do Blue Zones eat eggs? ›

People in Blue Zones areas typically eat an egg every other day, or 3 per week. Favor eggs from cage-free, pastured chickens just like the Blue Zones centenarians. Beans are an important source of protein in the Blue Zones areas with centenarians eating at least one cup of cooked beans daily.

What cheese do Blue Zones eat? ›

Avoid dairy when possible. If cheese is a must, try ice-cube size portions of sheep (pecorino) or goat (feta) cheese to flavor foods. If you eat eggs, limit intake to three times a week.

Do Blue Zones eat bananas? ›

In his opinion, it doesn't matter what fruit you consume. "Some would argue that berries are healthier than bananas, but the best fruit to eat is the fruit that you'll actually eat," says Buettner. He does caveat, however, that fruit is most often consumed as dessert in the Blue Zones.

Do they eat pasta in blue zones? ›

For Whole Grains: You can include 100% whole grain pasta and bread in this category, but the whole grains (like the ones listed above) are preferable. For Beans: We include all pulses and legumes in this category, including chickpeas, lentils, broad beans, and green beans.

Do blue zones eat cheese? ›

Dairy is high in fat and sugar and is best avoided. Some Blue Zones countries do include sheep or goat dairy, but it is usually eaten in fermented products such as yogurt or cheese.

What kind of bread do they eat in blue zones? ›

People in Sardinia's Blue Zones eat Sourdough everyday. Low in gluten it also lowers glycemic load of your entire meal by up to 25%. That means, your calories are more likely to be used for energy than belly fat.

Do blue zones eat rice? ›

People in Blue Zones areas eat whole foods. Whole foods are not processed in factories—they're made with ingredients that are recognizable as coming from the earth, like rice, corn, soy, fruits, and vegetables, or prepared food like tofu or manna bread.

Do blue zones eat bread? ›

Whole Grain Bread Made From Whole Wheat, Rye, and/or Barley. In addition to sourdough, many people living in the Blue Zones tend to eat whole grain bread.

Do blue zones drink coffee? ›

In addition to a daily cup of coffee, blue zones centenarians drink water, tea and wine. While coffee is often a hotly-debated health topic, it's shown to carry many health benefits. Most centenarians in blue zones regions drink up to two or three cups of black coffee per day!

How do people in blue zones live longer? ›

Dan Buettner:

People in Blue Zones are living a long time because they're socializing, because they know their purpose. And they live their pure purpose. They live near nature. They keep their families close by and we can map all these to higher life expectancy.

What are the top Blue Zone foods? ›

“People in the blue zones eat an impressive variety of garden vegetables and leafy greens (especially spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards) when they are in season; they pickle or dry the surplus to enjoy during the off-season,” Buettner writes in his book.

What foods should people in the Blue Zone avoid? ›

The diet is mostly plant-based. The daily food intake of people living in Blue Zones is about 95% vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. They do not eat much meat, dairy, sugary foods or drinks, and processed food. Food is not the only reason that people in Blue Zones live long, healthy lives.

What foods activate longevity genes? ›

Berries contain a large number of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can “activate longevity pathways,” Hyman says. They can also keep the gut healthy, fight inflammation, and, therefore, reduce the risk for heart disease and other life-threatening chronic conditions.

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