Taking a leaf from book of longevity

Low meat, high vegetarian  diet with olive oil and active lifestyle common in long-living communities

The season of overindulgence is coming to a close: you’ve consumed your bodyweight in chocolate and your sole form of exercise has consisted of lifting a champagne glass while prostrate on the sofa.

But, before you embark on January atonement, why not consider these simple diet tips from the world’s longest living communities?


Home to the largest proportion of 90-year-olds in the world, the people of Ikaria live 10 years longer than Europeans and Americans.

With significantly lower rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia and depression, the Greek island’s mountainous terrain and limited transport force locals to remain extremely active well into their 80s and 90s. The Ikarian diet revolves around an abundance of olive oil, copious amounts of fruit and vegetables, and very little processed food.

The inhabitants’ longevity is sometimes attributed to a mountain herbal tea containing spleenwort, purple sage, mint and rosemary.


With one of the highest life expectancies in the world, the people of Okinawa, Japan, know a thing or two about longevity. Low in calories but nutrient rich, the Okinawan diet consists largely of fish and vegetables.

Inhabitants eat very little meat and dairy, instead opting for squid and octopus, which are thought to lower cholesterol and blood pressure due to their high levels of taurine.

Okinawans eat more tofu and kombu seaweed than anyone else in the world and favour sweet potatoes – which are low GI and rich in antioxidants – over white.


With an unusually high proportion of centenarians, the people of Sardinia attribute their longevity to the island’s unpolluted air, stress-free lifestyle and healthy diet.

Rich in olive oil, vegetables and nuts, the Sardinian diet is low in meat, but occasionally features lean meats and oily fish. Sardinians drink wine made from grapes rich in polyphenols and other antioxidants which are thought to decelerate the ageing process.

Source: Daily Telegraph, UK January 3, 2015