Nine Nutrition Essentials for 2009

Strategy 1: Eat smart, be fit, and live longer

Dan Buettner, one of our panel of experts for the 2009 Nutrition Essentials series and author of "The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest," has studied communities he calls Blue Zones (including residents of Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Costa Rica) where people live to the age of 100 at a much higher rate than the general population. "Each Blue Zone revealed its own recipes for longevity, but many of the fundamental ingredients were the same," he writes.

What you can do: One of the fundamental lessons from the Blue Zones research: Eat a predominately plant-based diet that offers a balance of healthful fats; a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; and quality sources of protein that are low in saturated fat, which is linked to elevated rates of cardiovascular disease. Another key similarity between Blue Zone groups: Each makes meals part of the fabric of life, which includes family togetherness, collective effort, and conviviality. And finally, each group has daily exercise in common. Activity balances the calories consumed, helping to keep weight in check.

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