CNN — Beans, beans, the magical … longevity food?
True, these tiny, unassuming morsels are filling and nutritious, and as a basis of a plant-based diet, good for the planet as well. But how could the family of legumes — which includes beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas — help us live longer?
“In every blue zone I have visited, beans and other legumes were — and still are — a major component of the daily diet,” said author and entrepreneur Dan Buettner, who has spent decades reporting on “blue zones,” unique communities around the globe where people live long and heathy lives, up to and past 100 years.
Residents of these areas share a common environment and lifestyle — including a plant-based diet — that scientists believe contribute to their longevity.
Blue zones have been discovered in Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California; and the Italian island of Sardinia, just off the coast of Italy.
In Sardinia, where one of the first groups of centenarians was studied, garbanzo and fava are the legumes of choice, Buettner said.
Also known as chickpeas, garbanzos are the prime ingredients of a minestrone that is usually eaten at more than one meal, allowing the residents of Sardinia to get the benefits of beans at least twice a day.
The recipe was given to Buettner by one of the three brothers and six sisters of the Melis family of Perdasdefogu, Sardinia, which he said is the “longest living family in the world.”
“There are nine siblings whose collective age was 851 years,” Buettner said. “Every day of their life they had the exact same minestrone with sourdough bread and a small three-ounce glass of red wine.”
All members of the legume family are full of nutrients, including copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, zinc, lysine, which is an essential amino acid, and lots of protein and fiber.
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