Blue Zone diets — as in, the food regimens in areas of the world where people live longer — are all the rage nowadays. However, many of these longevity diets can be somewhat restrictive when it comes to what you can eat. Lots of them don’t allow for things like starchy vegetables, dairy products, or beverages that aren’t water or tea. Luckily, there’s a Blue Zone diet called the Ikaria diet that allows for all three!
What is the Ikaria diet?
Named for a small Greek island where one in three people make it to their nineties and there are few cases of dementia, the Ikaria diet follows some of the same protocols as other regimens with Mediterranean influence. It’s heavy on vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, and legumes. On the flip side, the plan largely recommends only consuming meat and alcoholic beverages like wine in moderation, though it doesn’t outright “ban” them.
What should you eat on it?
The Ikaria diet still has its roots in the Mediterranean diet, which means you should be consuming plenty of leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli. On top of that though, the regimen does encourage eating white and sweet potatoes. It’s also very fruit-friendly and suggests including legumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas. Moreover, you can eat dairy products like goat’s milk, yogurt, and cheese, and Greek coffee is also on the menu.
Additionally, spices like mint, rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, garlic, and oregano are commonly found in the dishes.
What’s off-limits? It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but processed or cured meats like ham and sausages as well as foods with processed sugar like soda and candy shouldn’t be in regular rotation. High salt and sugar contents can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Finding a longevity diet can take some trial and error, but the flexibility of the Ikaria diet could make it the perfect one for you. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before you get started!