Centenarians in Blue Zones® areas across the world don’t eat a lot of meat or processed foods. But they do eat plenty of beans, whole grains, and veggies, which are usually grown in their own gardens. Sardinian shepherds eat flatbread made from wheat, while Nicoyans in Costa Rica serve corn tortillas with each meal. Beans, whole grains, and garden vegetables are at the heart of longevity diets. A Plant Slant diet is also one of the Power 9®—shared lifestyle habits of those living in the original Blue Zones areas helping them live longer, better.
If you are trying to eat healthier by munching on more vegetables, you’re not alone. Veggies were rated number one among the foods targeted by those striving to eat healthier, according to a Tufts University study.
Healthy Eating on the Run
We all know that watching what and how much we eat helps us feel better and prevents costly health conditions and illnesses. We also know that actually enjoying nutritious and delicious meals on a busy schedule is easier said than done. Use these quick tips to make healthier choices when you’re in a hurry:
• Skip the fries and go for a baked potato or side salad. Forget the butter and sour cream and top your potato with salsa or a light sprinkling of low-fat cheese instead.
• Boost nutrition by adding tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and other veggies to your sandwich. Choose lean beef, ham, turkey, or chicken on whole grain bread and a low-fat spread like mustard or ketchup.
• At the salad bar, pile on the dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers, and other fresh vegetables. Avoid high-fat dressings and nutritionally questionable add-ons like croutons, bacon bits, and processed meats.
• Pass up on the all-you-can-eat specials, buffets, and unlimited salad bars. If you do choose the buffet, fill up on salads, soups, and veggies first. Use a small plate.
• Like wraps? Choose fillings like rice mixed with seafood, chicken, or grilled veggies.
• Grabbing dinner at the supermarket deli? Select rotisserie chicken or sliced, lean roast beef, salad-in-a-bag, freshly baked bread, and fresh fruit.
• For a quick lunch at your desk, have single-serve packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna handy. Plan ahead to avoid the vending machine, which often offers unhealthy temptations when the snack attack hits.
Q & A: Ask the Expert
Q: Which is healthier – fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and veggies?
A: Any fruits and vegetables are better than no fruits and vegetables. They are the nutritional powerhouses of your diet. For peak flavor and good value, fresh produce in season is always a good choice. But frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, without added salt or sugar, are just as good for you as fresh. Rely on easy ways to sneak more fresh and frozen fruits and veggies into your diet. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that may protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.