A Pinch of Seaweed
The Pacific archipelago of Okinawa, Japan, is home to some of the world’s longest-lived people. They enjoy the highest life expectancy, the most years of healthy life, and one of the highest centenarian ratios. Dan Buettner visited Okinawa with photographer David McLain to learn its secrets. The Okinawans in this gallery were photographed on assignment for a November 2005 feature article in National Geographic magazine.
Squatting effortlessly on a slippery embankment, 89-year-old Kame Ogido (above) inspects a pinch of seaweed, part of a low-calorie, plant-based diet that may help give Okinawans an average life expectancy of 82 years, among the longest in the world. Meals of stir-fried vegetables, sweet potatoes, and tofu are high in nutrients and low in calories. While centenarian Okinawans do eat some pork, it is traditionally reserved only for infrequent ceremonial occasions and taken only in small amounts.
—Text adapted from the National Geographic book Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest