Blue Zones Founder Dan Buettner Shares What Food Habit Leads to Longevity

Blue Zones Founder Dan Buettner Shares What Food Habit Leads to Longevity


Dan Buettner has spent years studying the world’s Blue Zones – regions where people live exceptionally long and happy lives. Through his research, he has uncovered key lifestyle factors that contribute to longevity.

Main Point

One of the most impactful food habits linked to longevity is a plant-slant diet rich in beans, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Eating mostly plants and limiting meat is common across Blue Zone populations.

Supporting Evidence

The traditional diets of people living in Blue Zones like Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia Italy, and Loma Linda, California contain mainly plants. They emphasize vegetables, beans and lentils, fruit, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Meat is minimal or used as a flavoring.

Quotes from Dan Buettner

“Beans are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.”

“Nuts and seeds are important components of Blue Zone diets.”

“Grains like barley, farro, brown rice, and sourdough bread show up in many Blue Zone meals.”

Benefits of This Dietary Pattern

Studies show plant-based diets can promote longevity and reduce risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Plants provide antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals. Limiting meat also avoids risks from too much saturated fat and proteins that stress the kidneys.

Easy Ways to Eat More Plants

  • Make vegetables 50% of your plate
  • Enjoy beans multiple times a week
  • Snack on nuts and seeds
  • Choose whole grains when possible
  • Eat fruit daily


What is the Blue Zones project?

The Blue Zones project identifies regions around the world with the longest-lived people, studies their lifestyles and community characteristics, and teaches people how to adopt those habits.

What food makes up the biggest part of Blue Zone diets?

The biggest food group in Blue Zone diets is vegetables, making up around 50% of total intake or more.

Do Blue Zone people eat meat?

Most Blue Zone diets contain very little meat – around 5% of total calories. Meat is used sparingly and often just to flavor bean, vegetable and grain dishes.

What are some Blue Zone diet staple foods?

Common staple Blue Zone foods include beans (fava, black, soy, lentils), whole grains (barley, brown rice, sourdough bread), nuts, green leafy vegetables, other non-starchy vegetables, and fruits.

How can I shift to a more Blue Zone-inspired diet?

Gradually incorporate more beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits into meals. Portion meat to palm-sized (3-4 oz) or smaller servings, more as a flavoring than main dish.