People Who Live to 100 Eat the "World's Healthiest Breakfast," Researcher Says
A longevity expert has spent decades studying the habits and meals of people who live longer.
Is there actually a secret to living longer, or are some people just luckier than others? The answer is likely a little of both, though scientists have long agreed that there are certain innate and behavioral factors that may help you stay healthier as you age. One of these is what you eat—and that goes for the day's most important meal. In the early 2000s, longevity researcher Dan Buettner pinpointed five regions of the world that had the highest rates of individuals living over 100. As he studied the habits of the people in these places, he says he discovered what may be the "world's healthiest breakfast."
Referred to as the "Blue Zones," the five regions Buettner highlighted are Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. In a new report he wrote for CNBC, the researcher revealed that the answer to what you should be eating every morning may lie in a "tucked-away corner" of Nicoya.
"Under a red-tiled roof, a dozen or so people of the Cooperativa Nicoya wake each morning at 4:00 a.m. They stoke wood fires in clay ovens, put cauldrons of spicy beans to boil, and mix corn dough with wood ash," he writes.
As Buettner explains, the beans are mixed with onions, red peppers, and local herbs, cooked slowly for about an hour, and then mixed with rice. The corn dough and wood ash mixture, on the other hand, is used to create the "perfect tortilla" on a hot clay pot.
The total cost to make this breakfast is only $4.23, according to Buettner. But what makes it worthy of being deemed the world's healthiest breakfast?
"The corn tortillas, chewy with a nutty flavor, are an excellent source of whole-grain, low-glycemic complex carbohydrates," Buettner shares. "The wood ash breaks down the corn's cell walls, making niacin (a B vitamin that plays a role in cell signaling and DNA repair) available, and freeing amino acids so the body can absorb them."
It's not just the tortilla that makes it healthy, however.
"The black beans contain the same pigment-based anthocyanins (antioxidants) found in blueberries. They're rich, colon cleansing, blood pressure lowering, and insulin regulating, and they are filled with folates like potassium and B vitamins to boot," Buettner explains, adding that combined with the rice, this creates a whole protein, or "all the amino acids necessary for human sustenance."
The health benefits of this breakfast can even be found in the condiments and coffee that accompany it, according to the longevity expert. Chilero, which is a slaw-like condiment they make using vinegar carrots and searingly hot peppers, "offers a probiotic boost to the breakfast along with curcumin, a compound shown to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties," Buettner notes.
Meanwhile, their coffee isn't the same as you'd find at Starbucks. Instead, the people in Nicoya drink a brew made from a local strain of "pea berry" beans, which "provides a boost of antioxidants plus metabolism-boosting caffeine," Buettner says.
For more wellness advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.