Food knowledge is power and what you put on your plate can have a huge impact on your life, whether it's helping to boost energy, improve your mood or help reduce the risk for a variety of conditions including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
NBC nutritionist Joy Bauer stopped by Megyn Kelly TODAY to share six of her favorite foods that may help lengthen your healthy years.
National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner and author of the Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest discovered the Blue Zones Areas — the five regions of the world where people live the longest (Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Icaria in Greece, Nicoya in Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California) — and experts have uncovered some common lifestyle factors among people who maintain long, healthy lives.
One key component? A nutritious diet. Spoiler alert: potato chips and handfuls of cookies are out — nuts and leafy greens are in!
1. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
People in the Blue Zone Areas eat an impressive amount of veggies. Hey, we all know we should be eating a diet rich in vegetables but it's important to choose the right ones to eat on a regular basis. While all colorful veggies are terrific — think leafy greens, carrots, eggplant and tomatoes — don't forget about cruciferous veggies, like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. An easy way to eat more veggies is to start lunch and dinner with a bountiful salad or to pack 'em into soups and stews, like in Joy's Longevity Soup.
2. Fatty fish
People with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood — maintained by eating fatty fish like salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel and arctic char at least twice per week — reduced their overall risk of premature death by as much as 27 percent, and cut their risk of dying from heart disease by about 35 percent, according to Harvard researchers. You can grill or bake any of these fish easily and toss them into dishes like pasta, salads or even omelets.
Beans (think black, kidney, white, etc.) are a staple in all five Blue Zones. Research links bean consumption to improved gut health, lower cholesterol and a reduced risk for certain cancers and heart disease. Get your daily dose by adding them to soups, stews and salads. Beans, beans, good for the ... entire body!
Berries provide both a body and brain boost. These fiber and antioxidant-rich gems may help you live longer and keep your mind sharp, too, according to various studies. Berries are delicious, fresh or frozen, as a snack on their own: simply pop them into your mouth and enjoy the tangy-tart sweetness. You can also add them to yogurt, oatmeal, whole-grain pancakes, muffin batter or, of course, smoothies.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are another go-to ingredient in Blue Zone Area diets. Recent research found that people who ate nuts every day, lived longer, healthier lives, than those who didn't. And don't forget about seeds — these nutritional powerhouses have also been linked to a longer life, plus a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Enjoy a handful of plain nuts and seeds, or mix them into whole-grain cereal and dried fruit to create your own tasty trail mix.
6. Coffee and tea
Can’t go without your daily java fix? No worries: Coffee can help boost your health and promote longevity. In fact, in three of the five Blue zones, people drink copious amounts of coffee. And all the Blue Zones sip tea. Pour yourself a cup or try adding it to your smoothies for an antioxidant-rich boost.
This soup is both soothing and healing and one batch has multiple longevity-promoting ingredients with each delicious spoonful.
A smoothie is another perfect way to truly give your breakfast a nutritious boost. They also make great snacks or afternoon pick-me-ups! Joy's Longevity Smoothie has berries, leafy greens, nuts, seeds and green tea. You can find the recipe right here.