The idea of a blue zones diet came about because researchers were studying the people around the world who live the longest, healthiest lives. Those people tend to eat a lot of plant-based foods, which contain compounds known as polyphenols that have been linked to a number of health benefits.
While the blue zones diet isn’t designed to be a weight loss plan, its emphasis on plant-based foods may lead to weight loss. “Plant foods are really filling because they have more fiber,” Cassetty says.
A good diet is crucial for heart and cardiovascular system health, and choosing more plant-based foods and fewer animal foods can help. In addition, people in the blue zones frequently snack on nuts, and research has found that doing so may lower your risk of a heart attack.
The blue zones diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, and a study of that diet found it may lower your risk of breast cancer.
The health benefits of fiber is a recurring theme when it comes to the blue zones diet. “From a chronic disease standpoint, fiber helps regulate blood sugar,” says Selvi Rajagopal, MD, MPH
Many of us could benefit from sleeping better and sleeping longer. Those are two areas where the blue zones diet can help. It's loaded with high-fiber beans and vegetables, and a meta-analysis of 20 studies found that diets like the blue zones diet — rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and anti-inflammatory nutrients
According to Dr. Rajagopal, the fiber in the blue zones diet fights cellular inflammation, which plays a role in many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and depression.
“Soluble fiber is really important for feeding our good gut bacteria. A good balance of gut bacteria is important for regulating so many different processes in the body,” Rajagopal says.
The blue zones diet may support your mental health as well as your physical health. A study published in Nutrients in November 2021 found that people who ate a high-fiber diet had fewer symptoms of depression.
Similarly, the healthy changes in your gut microbiome that come from the blue zones way of eating could lead to other cognitive benefits.