How to live longer: ‘The big secret’ of centenarians’ diet that could help you live to 100

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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Longevity researchers often turn to Blue Zone populations to unearth the secrets of reaching old age. These areas of the world are thought to have higher concentrations of individuals reaching older age. Research on Blue Zones has been eye-opening, broadening our understanding of diet and lifestyle and their role in longevity. According to one expert on the region, a food which is emphasised in Mediterranean diets could boost one’s odds of reaching the ripe of old of 100.

According to National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner, of the 10 foods recommended for longevity, half may belong to the bean family.

Lentils, soybeans, peanuts, chickpeas and black beans may all feature among the top foods for consumption.

Mr Buettner made the discovery after setting out on a quest to discover the key lifestyle secrets to longevity.

His research spans the entirety of the Blue Zone region, which boasts some of the largest populations of centenarians.

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Mr Buettner attributed the life-prolonging effects to beans during his time in Sardinia, California and Costa Rica.

Sardinian centenarians combined fava beans and chickpeas with tomatoes, milk thistle tea and wine, while Californians tended to marry their beans with salmon and avocados.

In Costa Rica, bean consumption was widespread, specifically on the Nicola Peninsula.

“The big secret of the Nicoyan diet was the “three sisters” of Meso-American agriculture: beans, corn and squash,” noted Mr Buettner.

Mr Buettner’s book, which outlines the most widely consumed foods in these regions, notes that they eat mostly plants, and especially beans.

Mr Buettner wrote: “Their tradition of preparing the right foods, in the right way, I believe, has a lot to do with the island’s longevity.

“What set it apart from other places in the region was its emphasis on potatoes, goat’s milk, honey, legumes (especially garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas and lentils), wild greens, some fruit and relatively small amounts of fish.”

These findings were confirmed in one 2004 study conducted on individuals over the age of 70, which suggested that for every two tablespoons of beans consumed, individuals saw their risk of dying fall by eight percent.

Beans constitute complex carbohydrates among other microbiomes that may boost immune defences.

By populating the gut with “good bacteria”, the pulses may aid with digestion and thwart the production of “bad” bacteria.

Beans are also packed with protein, which is vital for maintaining and repairing the body.

The plant-based protein found in beans, lentils and chickpeas may also help stabilise blood sugar and keep cravings at bay.

They are also a good source of antioxidants, with darker beans usually comprising higher concentrations.

In fact, some studies have found that the hulls of black beans contain 40 times the amount of antioxidants found in their white counterparts.

Many of these nutritional compounds have collectively been proven to lower the risk of cardiovascular complications such as heart attack.

Protecting the heart, and eating enough fibre and protein are all ways to elongate your lifespan.

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