5 Island Longevity Foods

Why can people born on the Greek Island of Ikaria expect to celebrate their 90th birthday, and possibly their 100th? Researchers think it has a lot to do with what they eat.

Below are 5 foods that are attributed to Ikarians longevity. These foods are staples in their pantries.

Ikaria has been labeled a Blue Zone, one of 5 areas around the world where people live the longest, happiest lives. You can read more about Blue Zones, and Dan Buettners work here. Diane Kochilas is an authority on Ikarian cooking, and another great resource for longevity.

5 Island Longevity Foods

  1. Beans- Ikarians eat lots of beans, typically chickpeas, lentils and black-eyed peas.  They soak dried beans overnight, (technique here) boil, then use them in their favorite dishes. The healthiest people around the world eat beans daily.
  2. Olive oil- Greeks cook with olive oil and drizzle it on salads, vegetables, and finish dishes with it.  "Extra virgin" olive oil seems to have more health benefits than other oils. Drizzle fresh olive oil on your dishes as you bring them to table for better health, and flavor.
  3. Wild Greens & Herbs- Dandelion greens, called "Horta", are a Greek staple, but you can also use Swiss chard, kale, spinach, escarole or chicory.  Herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano are commonly used for cooking with and drinking. When I was young, my mom would take us to a local mountain in New Jersey and pick wild greens from the side of the hill. I was embarrassed then, but I admire her resourcefulness now. They're delicious boiled and served simply with olive oil, salt and lemon. Try this boiled greens recipe.
  4. Potatoes- Ikarians eat lots of potatoes and live a long time. That's great news for potato lovers.  They often serve them simply prepared with olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Read about Ikarians love of potatoes here. Try this Roasted Lemon Potato Recipe.
  5. Herbal Mountain Tea & Honey. Everyday, Greeks drink tea made from sage, oregano, rosemary, mint, fennel, chamomile, or sideritis (mountain tea). It's delicious with a teaspoon of honey. Herbal teas and honey have many health benefits.  Read more about herbal teas from Diane Kochilas.