Though there’s no magic potion for longevity. However, we’ve learned from National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner - founder of the Blue Zones - that there are several things that we can include in our diet that offer longevity-boosting benefits.
After extensive research, Buettner and his team identified five regions of the world that they report are home to the longest-living people, which he deemed the Blue Zones (Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Loma Linda, California). And while every location's cuisine is unique, Buettner and his team have identified a few commonalities in what the locals in the Blue Zones eat and, more importantly, drink. “People in every Blue Zone drink tea,” Buettner says.
This comes as little surprise. After all, studies have repeatedly shown that drinking tea is good for you. But what types of tea do the longest living people in the world most regularly drink?
Green: According to Buettner, people in the region of Okinawa drink green tea regularly. When it comes to health-promoting qualities, green tea is basically liquid gold: It contains high amounts of flavanols, which is a type of antioxidant linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol and improved cardiovascular health. Green teas also contains catechins, a polyphenol and antioxidant that can help protect the body against free-radicals. And, to top it off, it's also packed with L-theanine, an amino acid that can potentially improve mood and cognitive function.
Herbal: In Ikaria, it's common to find teas made with herbs that were locally foraged. “Ikarians drink brews of rosemary, wild sage, and dandelion tea - all herbs known to have anti-inflammatory properties,” Buettner says. To understand the full scope of the benefits of Ikarian herbal teas, Buettner sent samples to be laboratory tested and found that they all had antioxidant properties that also doubled as mild diuretics. “So not only do they contain powerful antioxidants, but they can also help flush waste products from the body and slightly lower blood pressure,” he says.
Milk Thistle: The preferred tea in Sardinia is milk thistle, which is known to help break down and digest food, store essential vitamins and minerals, and remove toxins from the system, among other things. This herb has also been linked to protecting against certain types of cancer. Studies also suggest that milk thistle extracts have anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective effects and can be used to protect the liver against toxins and control chronic liver diseases.
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