Book Review: The Blue Zones Solution


In The Blue Zones Solution author Dan Buettner outlines 9 common lifestyle denominators among the populations with greatest average longevity:

  1. move naturally
  2. sense of purpose
  3. have a routine to de-stress
  4. stop eating at 80% full
  5. 1-2 glasses of wine/day
  6. social circle which supports healthy behaviors
  7. eat lots of plants with beans as foundation; meat only once or twice peer week
  8. faith-based community
  9. loved ones come 1st

Then the author goes on to describe the diets of these populations, from which he extracts a list of what he calls “longevity foods”.  Here’s a list of what I saw that they had in common:

They eat mostly vegetables & fruits, including lots of beans:

  • greens, seaweed
  • potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams
  • black-eyed peas, chickpeas, black beans
  • lemons, tomatoes, papayas, bananas
  • mushrooms
  • fennel
  • almonds, nuts
  • avocados
  • squash

They eat whole grains, such as:

  • brown rice
  • barley
  • oatmeal
  • maize nixtamal
  • whole wheat bread
  • flat bread (from durum wheat)

Their diet also includes fermented foods like:

  • sourdough bread
  • wine

They don’t drink soda!! Instead they drink:

  • H20
  • coffee
  • goat’s/sheep’s milk
  • green tea
  • soy milk

White sugar is not their primary sweetener. Instead they eat:

  • honey

… and use lots of spices like:

  • garlic
  • turmeric
  • black pepper
  • mediterranean herbs

And they do not cook with Crisco, but they do use olive oil.



In case you’re wondering, the “blue zones” are:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan: 
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Icaria, Greece

In summary, these people move throughout the day as they work, rather than sit all day then work out for an hour at best (#1 above).  They avoid processed foods, eat plant-based diet, and they don’t over-eat (#s 4 & 7). And they prioritize their own mental health (#s 2, 3 & 5) as well as their sense of community (#s 6, 8 & 9).

The author also includes recipes that include the superfoods listed above, if you want to incorporate more of these into your diet. Overall this is one of the more insteresting books about diet that I have read because it’s grounded in real life, not just lab results and number crunching.  I recommend this book if you find such reasoning persuasive, and if you’re interested in how other cultures eat and live.  If you want to know more about the Blue Zones project, you can check out


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