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How to live longer? Expert shares Sardinia's diet secrets - where people live beyond 100

Daily Express logo Daily Express 03/07/2022 Mared Gruffydd

Dan Buettner is the best-selling author of The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100. In the book, the American shares longevity recipes inspired by Blue Zone locations around the world, which are where people live the longest. He spoke to about the recipes from Sardinia.

Sardinia is the largest Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea.

As well as its 2,000km of stunning coastline and sandy beaches, the island is known for the healthy lifestyle habits of its people.

Sardinia has the highest percentage of people living to 100 or beyond, with the proportion of centenarians in the population being twice the rate considered normal for the rest of the world.

So, when Dan visited Sardinia, what did he learn about its natives' diet and way of life?

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Sardinia © GETTY Sardinia

The classic Sardinian diet consists of wholegrain bread, vegetables, fruit, and beans, Dan said.

These are the main ingredients in any Mediterranean diet, as well as meat and fish.

Interestingly, Sardinians are not afraid to consume alcohol too. It can be considered unhealthy, but drinking wine in small proportions can in fact be good for you.

Dan said: "Sardinians drink wine moderately - perhaps a glass or two a day.

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"Cannonau wine has two or three times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines.

"Moderate wine consumption may help explain the lower levels of stress among men."

Another popular drink that has great health benefits is goat's milk.

"A glass of goat's milk contains components that might help protect against inflammatory diseases of aging such as heart disease and Alzheimer's," Dan explained.

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Drinking red wine © GETTY Drinking red wine

As for exercise, Sardinians are known for walking long distances every day.

Dan said: "Walking five miles a day or more as Sardinian shepherds do provides all the cardiovascular benefits you might expect, and also has a positive effect on muscle and bone metabolism without the joint-pounding of running marathons or triathlons."

The writer found that many Blue Zone populations like to walk or cycle. He told about the other similarities between each of them too, and shared how Britons can follow their leads.

Dan recommended: "Find like-minded friends who are interested in health. If your three best friends are obese, you're 150 percent more likely to become obese as well.

Calorie-burning exercises © EXPRESS Calorie-burning exercises

"Find friends who think a good time out is a walk or bike ride or eating plant based.

"It's important that you have friends you can call on a bad day for help and support as well."

He continued: "Set up your home for health. Hide the junk food in a top cabinet, put out a fruit bowl on the counter, put the toaster away and keep sugar sweetened beverages out of the house.

"Fill a water bottle that you carry around with you, so you drink more water."

Dan added that it's worth "making subtle nudges throughout your entire day, such as working at a standing desk, doing your work meetings while walking around the halls of your office, or walking with a friend over lunch".

And lastly? "Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole food plant based items," Dan said.


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