4 Items You Should Always Have in Your Pantry, According to the Longest-Living People in the World

Photo: Getty Images/Kelvin Murray
No doubt 2020 is the year of the pantry. (Remember that time you bought 12 cans of black beans back in March?) For the folks of the Blue Zones—centenarian hotspots like Sardinia, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan—stocked pantries are the hallmark of everyday. So if you want to keep the longevity-promoting benefits of non-perishable goods alive in 2021, you just need to remember the four Blue Zones pantry items to always stock up on when you're shopping the aisles of the supermarket.

According to the Blue Zones, beans, greens, grains, and nuts provide the essential nutrients you need to have on hand at all times. To help you make sure you're buying an adequate amount of each category, you can download a free worksheet/shopping list to track those pinto beans, canned spinach, wild rice, and cashews (or whatever flavors you love in each category). Before you do so, though, let's dive into why each of those four items deserve a spot on your plate.

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The 4 Blue Zones pantry items to stock up on for longevity-promoting dishes that won't go bad


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1. Beans

"The longevity all-star food is beans," said Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner at this year's Global Wellness Summit. "If you’re eating about a cup of beans a day, it’s probably worth an extra four years of life expectancy." While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) generally recommends a half-cup serving, Buettner recommends bumping your consumption up to a full cup a day to reap all the fiber, protein, and other nutritive benefits to the fullest. A cup of kidney beans, for example, contains 16 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and 12 percent of your daily recommended iron intake. Not too shabby, huh?

Stock up on: Garbanzo beans, black beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans

Speaking of beans, you need to know about the benefits of chickpeas:

2. Greens

Okay so canned greens don't exactly scream appetizing, but they're the perfect side dish to turn to in a pinch. A half-cup serving almost 70 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 20 percent of your vitamin C. Add plenty of garlic, salt, and pepper and they'll be bursting with flavor.

Stock up on: Canned collard greens, canned spinach

Greens fight inflammation. Here are other foods that do the very same thing:

3. Grains

Oh whole grains, what we do without you? The whole, unprocessed varieties—like buckwheat, quinoa, and brown ricekeep their fiber-packed outer coatings through the production process. That means that you reap all the benefits of the gut-healthy nutrient.

Stock up on: wild rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta

Use that wild rice to make a delicious bowl of porridge:

4. Nuts

If you don't have five nut butters on deck at all times, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Every single variety comes with its very own laundry list of benefits. While almonds are the best for longevity, those who want the most protein should hop on the peanut train. In short, you can never have too many nuts (or nut butters) on hand.

Stock up on: cashews, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, peanuts, or nut butters of any variety

What a dietitian thinks about nut butter:

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