The Top 5 Longevity-Boosting Foods Blue Zone’s Founder Dan Buettner Keeps in His Pantry at All Times

Photo: Stocksy/ Nadine Greeff
Admittedly, when I was in my teens, the thought of "getting old" was something I deemed far, far in the future. Even in my 20s, I was more concerned with which happy hour to attend than buying new anti-aging creams. But now, in my 30s, as I experience weekend-long hangovers and creaky knees as I squat, finding ways to take care of my body has become top of mind.

So, who better to turn to for some healthy aging advice than the longevity expert himself, Dan Buettner? In case you aren’t already familiar with Buettner’s work, he’s a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of the Blue Zones. Through decades-worth of research, Buettner has uncovered some of the most notable longevity-boosting habits folks in the Blue Zones (longevity hotspots) do daily… most of which revolve around healthy eating. To that end, discover Buettner’s favorite longevity foods in his kitchen.


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A post shared by Dan Buettner (@danbuettner)

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5 longevity-boosting foods a longevity expert keeps in stock

According to a recent Instagram post by Buettner, one of the best ways to promote healthy aging is by keeping your fridge and pantry well-stocked with a few antioxidant-rich and protein-packed foods.

That said, boosting longevity doesn’t boil down to one simple ingredient. It's important to keep an eye on the 'big picture' when it comes to longevity-boosting lifestyle habits, which comprise everything from exercises for strengthening bones and meditations to reduce stress to, of course, longevity-boosting foods.

1. Nuts

First up on Buettner’s list are nuts. “We know that people who are eating nuts are living about two years longer than people who don’t eat nuts,” Buettner says. In fact, research shows that nuts are a great source of essential nutrients, such as proteins, fibers, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds with antioxidant potential. Nuts are also linked to positive health benefits and can help stave away chronic disease-related risk factors, such as changes in glycemic and lipid metabolism, oxidative stress, and inflammation.

So, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almonds, which one to choose? Choosing a favorite type of nut is challenging—each is perfect in its own way and packed with potent health perks—which is why Buettner advocates for all varieties. “If you’re eating the nut that you like every day, you’re more likely to eat more of them [consistently],” he says.

2. Beans

According to Buettner, the number one food for longevity in the world is plain and simple: beans. “Beans are the number one longevity food in the world. If you’re eating a couple of beans a day, it’s probably worth four extra years of life expectancy,” Buettner says. What makes them so great, you may wonder? Well, they’re packed with a ton of fiber (we love), protein (one cup contains 15 grams of protein), and support the gut microbiome, to name a few benefits. That said, although any kind of bean works, Buettner says black beans rank highest among them all for boosting longevity.


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A post shared by Dan Buettner (@danbuettner)

3. Fruit

Take a peak at Buettner’s kitchen, and you’ll quickly notice that he likes to keep plenty of fruits in stock. His favorite? Mangoes. But this isn’t the only fruit for healthy aging by any means. Rather, he says it’s best to keep whichever is your favorite fruit on hand since the more you like it, the more likely you will eat it before it becomes a pile of overripe mush. Makes sense.

A few additional options to contemplate are berries or bananas. “When it comes to longevity, you have to think of something you’re going to eat for the long run. And if you get bored of berries right away and quit eating them, it does you no good. So, having the food around you that you like, that you’re going to eat every day, and that’s in your line of sight,” Buettner says.

“Purple sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, and they have protein, three times more antioxidants than blueberries, it’s, and they have three times more vitamin C than regular old sweet potatoes.” 

4. Whole wheat bread

Number four on the list may come to you as little surprise if you already follow Buettner on social media. He, without a doubt, believes that bread and longevity are closely intertwined… needless to say, we’re beyond thankful for that. So, according to the world leader in longevity, the one type of bread he eats daily is Ezekiel bread. “I eat Ezekiel bread all the time because the top ingredients are sprouted wheat, millet, and barley. It also has a much lower glycemic index, and you have to keep it in the freezer,” Buettner previously said in another recent post.

Note: Buettner stresses that it's important to ensure the bread is, in fact, made with 100 percent whole wheat to really get those longevity-boosting benefits. And as far as the perfect bread combo goes, Buettner recommends a good ol’ PB sandwich—although your favorite high-protein nut butter (refer to number one on the list) will also do the trick.

5. Purple sweet potatoes

To round out the list, we saved the best for last: purple sweet potatoes. Yum. “This was the secret for longevity in Okinawa, Japan,” Buettner says. “Purple sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, and they have protein, three times more antioxidants than blueberries, it’s, and they have three times more vitamin C than regular old sweet potatoes.” And in case you aren’t sure what to make with them, these 11 recipes featuring purple potatoes (aka Japanese sweet potatoes) may be useful.

This brain-boosting herbal shot has longevity-boosting benefits: 

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