Food and Nutrition

Eating This High-Protein, High-Fiber Food Every Day Could Add 4 Years to Your Life

They're great in your Chipotle burrito bowl, but are beans ever really the star of the show? One person who thinks that they should be is longevity expert and Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner.  After years of studying the world’s longest-living people, there's still no better option to put on your plate when you're trying to reach the age of 100.

In a lecture given by Buettner through the Global Wellness Summit, he broke down what those living in the Blue Zones eat to stay so healthy. While their diets consist of plenty of greens, whole grains, tubers, nuts, and very little animal products, beans are an unbeatable staple in all five areas. "The longevity all-star food is beans," he says. "If you're eating about a cup of beans a day, it's probably worth an extra four years of life expectancy."

A cup of beans a day for all those extra years of life? Yeah, that's a pretty solid trade-off, IMO. Buettner's findings come from researching the Blue Zones for years, where he discovered the longest-living people stick to that full cup opposed to the 1/2 cup recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Other studies have shown just how incredible beans are for longevity, too. In a study from the Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, participants' risk of mortality was decreased by 7 to 8 percent for every 20 grams of legumes they ate.

"The longevity all-star food is beans. If you're eating about a cup of beans a day, it's probably worth an extra four years of life expectancy." —Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones

When you're shopping for beans of any kind, experts recommend choosing either a dried or canned option. If you choose canned, just be sure that it's low-sodium. Then, add them into anything and everything in order to get your daily cup in. You can use the protein- and fiber-filled food in desserts, soups and chili, veggie burgers, dips, salads, and more. Most of the time, you can even sneak them in without even noticing they're there. (Looking at you, black bean brownies.)

Those in the Blue Zones are proving staying healthy and living a long, happy life is easier than we think. And if I can up my intake of beans in order to make my centenarian dreams come true, you better believe I'm going to stock up ASAP.

Speaking of black bean brownies, here's exactly how you can make them at home:

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