These traditional diets can lead to long lives

Meals developed over generations based on whole grains, greens, nuts, and beans offer the promise of eluding disease and staying healthy.

More than 14 years have passed since Dan Buettner first wrote about the world’s longest-lived people for the magazine. Today he’s still uncovering the secrets of centenarians in regions he calls the blue zones. He recently returned to four of them to learn more about the foods that contribute to this remarkable longevity, collecting time-tested recipes and investigating why certain foods seem to promote long lives.

Ninety-nine-year-old Assunta Podda vigorously stirs an earthen pot and flashes a toothy smile. “Minestrone,” she explains with a swooping hand gesture.

I peer into the mélange of beans, carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, fennel, kohlrabi, herbs—all under a golden veneer of olive oil. Behind her, a shaft of evening light angles through a window and illuminates a table with a medieval spread: sourdough loaves, foraged greens, a carafe of garnet red wine.

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