World’s Longest-Living Individuals Say They Eat These Six High-Protein, Plant-Based Meals

Plant-based diets are widespread in Blue Zones, where people live long and healthy lives.

Eating a high-carbohydrate, plant-protein-rich diet is a distinguishing characteristic of the “Blue Zones,” the five locations on the planet where people live the longest, healthiest lives, generally reaching or beyond 100 years old in excellent health.

Many Blue Zone cuisines depend on carb-rich mainstays like legumes and healthy grains for protein.

The modest protein consumption in Blue Zones diets is supplemented by nuts, seafood, dairy, and eggs.

Consider trading out that steak for a dish of beans and rice if you want to eat like some of the world’s healthiest individuals.

The so-called Blue Zones have various cuisines, including Japanese, Greek, Italian, and Costa Rican.

While exact items differ, dietary categories such as beans, nuts, whole grains, herbs, and green vegetables form the foundation of Blue Zones diets.

According to author Dan Buettner, who popularized the Blue Zones diet, those who want to emulate the Blue Zones dietary patterns should try to make plant-based meals roughly 95 percent of their diet and restrict their consumption of red meat.

Regardless of the area, diets are typically low in fat and high in carbs.

However, there are alternative methods to consume protein in your diet.

Dietitians typically suggest consuming half to three-quarters of a gram of protein per pound of body weight, around 60-90 grams per day for a 120-pound individual, for example. Protein is essential for tissue repair and muscular growth, although Blue Zone residents often skip the gym.

Focus on nutrient-dense protein sources, such as legumes, with occasional meals of fish, dairy, and eggs, to get adequate protein on a Blue Zones diet.

Beans, peas, and lentils are examples of legumes.


Lentils and chickpeas and black beans and Adzuki beans are common ingredients in Blue Zones diets across the world.

From black beans in Costa Rica to lentils and chickpeas in the Mediterranean, they play a prominent part in Blue Zones meals across the globe.

Soybeans are a popular protein source in Japan, where they are either processed into tofu for soup and stir-fry or cooked in the pod as edamame.

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According to Buettner’s Blue Zones diet recommendations, you should consume at least half a cup of beans every day.

In addition to protein, beans are high in fiber, an important ingredient in Blue Zone diets.

Grain (whole)

Quinoa grains of various colors. Grains may provide protein, fiber, and healthy carbs to your diet.

Grains are often thought of as a source of carbs, but some unprocessed kinds may also provide protein to your diet.

Per cup, whole wheat, buckwheat, and couscous provide five to six grams of protein.

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Quinoa, an ancient grain from South America, has eight grams of protein per cup.

Whole grains include essential amino acids, which may provide a complete protein supply when paired with the minerals found in beans.

Rice and bean dishes are incredibly widespread mainstays all around the globe, including the Blue Zones.

Seeds and Nuts

Nuts include some protein as well as fiber and healthy fats.

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Despite a negative reputation in the diet industry for having a high caloric density, with just a handful containing up to 200 calories, nuts and seeds are the basic Blue Zones snack item.

They are high in nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, associated with health advantages such as reduced inflammation and a decreased risk of heart disease.

Consume Fish in Moderation

Fish isn’t a daily mainstay, but it does occur three times a week in modest servings of no more than three ounces.

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Small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, are a suitable alternative since they are not exposed to toxins at the same rate as fish further up the food chain, such as tuna.

Cod is another popular fish with a mild taste, high protein content, and vitamins and vital minerals like phosphorus.

Dairy in Small Quantities, Often from Sheep and Goats

A little soft cheese wheel with a slice taken off and put over a piece of bread

You may have been taught that drinking milk every day is good for your health, yet dairy is scarce in the Blue Zones diet.

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Traditional sheep or goat’s milk cheeses and other fermented items like yogurt are found in several Blue Zones areas of Italy and Greece.

In moderation, these low-sugar, high-protein selections may be a healthy element of the Blue Zones diet a few times each week.

Full-fat dairy is preferred since low-fat dairy is sometimes processed with extra chemicals, such as sugar, to compensate for the taste lost when fat is reduced.


Eggs are consumed two to four times a week on the Blue Zones diet.

With six to seven grams of protein per serving and B vitamins, eggs are a nutrient-dense, easily accessible protein source.

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They are taken in moderation as part of the minority of animal-based foods in Blue Zone diets, four to six times per week.

In Blue Zone’s cuisines, eggs are often served as a side dish, accompanied by substantial plant dishes.

In Costa Rica, for example, a fried egg is served on top of maize tortillas with black beans. A boiled egg is often served as part of a savory soup in Japan.

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