The Drinking Habits of the Longest-Living People in the World

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We can learn a lot about longevity from the people who live in the Blue Zones—places where people frequently live past 100. They live longer, healthier years than the rest of the world, so they've gotta be doing something right. The way alcohol in Blue Zones is consumed is mindful and intentional, much like the rest of their diet. "These people who are living the longest of anybody on Earth are enjoying a little bit of their favorite alcoholic beverage every day," longevity expert Dan Buettner previously told Well+Good.

There is plenty of debate around touting alcohol as something that's beneficial to health. "I'm well aware of the recent studies around alcohol showing that it increases the chance of breast cancer in women, or that it can cause falls, car crashes, and other fatal events," Buettner says.  "But I can tell you that in all five Blue Zones, they drink a little bit every day, and it adds to their quality of life. If you drink a little bit of red wine with a plant-based meal, it will about quadruple the flavonoid or antioxidant absorption and lower cortisol levels at the end of the day."

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Alas, they aren't really out there drinking spicy margaritas. In the Blue Zone of Sardinia, Italy, they enjoy a red wine called cannonau. It's got double to triple the amount of flavenoids, a type of antioxidant, compared to other wines. The way they consume wine is also of note—they drink one or two glasses, and drink it with loved ones and a Mediterranean-inspired diet.

Meanwhile, in Okinawa, Japan, there are lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and dementia than America, and they also consume alcohol. Their bevvy of choice is awamori, a rice-based, distilled liquor. Awamori has been part of their culture for over 600 years, and oftentimes it's enjoyed mixed with water. And again, the key is that they are consuming alcohol in moderation and with a mostly plant-based diet, while surrounded by good friends and family.

As we were harshly reminded last year, social connectedness is crucial to good health. So now that pandemic restrictions are looser, embrace the benefits by raising a glass with your favorite people. Cheers!

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