Plenty of diet plans can help you live longer, but many of them have one thing in common: They require you to avoid meat and dairy in most situations — or even tell you to cut them out altogether. So, what’s a meat and cheese lover to do? Luckily, there’s a longevity diet out there that can not only help you stay healthy but also doesn’t make you give up your favorite food groups. In fact, the Nicoya diet might become your new best friend.
What’s the Nicoya diet?
The food regimen gets its name from the region of Nicoya, Costa Rica, where people have a mortality rate 20 percent lower than the rest of the nation. Why does it work? Scientists believe that because the diet is high in fiber and centered on low-glycemic index foods, it’s effective for maintaining a healthy gut, managing weight, regulating blood sugar levels, and decreasing the risk of health problems that become more prevalent with age, like diabetes and heart disease.
What sets the Nicoya diet apart from other popular longevity diets is that while it includes many fruits, veggies, and whole grains, it doesn’t eschew meat entirely or request that it’s only eaten in extreme moderation. In other words, it’s a more balanced and intuitive approach to eating animal products. Plus, because its rules aren’t as strict around protein, carbs, and fat as the keto diet, it could be an easier diet plan for people to follow who like the idea of keto but can’t necessarily commit to it for one reason or another.
What should you eat on it?
Given where Costa Rica is located, much the diet is centered on foods found in tropical regions of the world. Common veggies include tomatoes, cucumbers, plantain, yucca, squash, bell peppers, onions, and cabbage. You’ll find many people eating fruits like bananas, mangoes, and pineapple. Rice, corn, black beans, and lentils are also everyday staples.
Obviously, what’s different about it from many other food regimens is its inclusion of animal products. Beef and pork are part of the diet for people in Costa Rica, and you can also sprinkle in poultry as you see fit. It also doesn’t limit your intake of other animal products like eggs or cheese.
What should you steer clear of?
Generally, the Nicoya diet stays away from foods with processed sugar, cured meats like prosciutto or pepperoni, and cow’s milk. (For that last one, consider trying a plant-based milk or goat’s milk instead!) Aside from that, the world is your oyster when it comes to what you can eat!