Experts Show Ways To Incorporate The Blue Zone Diet Of The World’s Centeneranians In India
As winter opened markets to succulent pools or ange and black radishes and carrors, coloured certs tomatoes, and dark leafy grvens chef Ashutosh Neriekar of The Park, Chennai, spot red in this farm fresh winter produce , a potential fare that could give his guests a new meaning to life, possibly a much longer one.
Although tweaked slightly to the Indian context, his inspiration came from the culinary and lifestyle secrets of the world’s Blue Zones Okinawa, Japan Sardinia, Italy. Nicoya Costa Rica, Icaria, Greece, and Loma Linda California.
In 2003, after extensive trave ling and research National Geograph ic fellow and author from the United States. Dan Beuttner found that the five aforementioned places were home to most number of people who lived up to a 100 years or more, and also aged happily while at it. The Blue Zone life, he inferred, was a combination of tra ditional locally grown food consump tion, conscious living, physical activ RX strong interpersonal relationships and spiritual leaning He said these chokes led to the least occurrence of cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart diseases in these populations.
The Blue Zone diet became a talking point in India after Covid 19,” says nutritionist Meenakshi Bajaj “Be sides following the thumb rule of little or no processed foods and sugars, these diets are abundant in polyphenol (a group of bioactive substances)-rich vegetables, nuts, flax seeds, beans, and a variety of Sardinian red wine called Cannonau.” she says.
In the menu of The Park’s Blue Zone Gastronomy festival earlier this month were roasted hasselback beetroots ina salad with white and golden beets from Icaria; grilled black sea bass from Loma Linda served with fennel orange salad, charred asparagus and balsamic glaze; and a hearty minestrone from Sardinia with barley dumpling, limabeans and tomato relish.
“This was a conceptualised menu for a promotional event. But incorporating the Blue Zone diet into your own, Isn’t just about sourcing food from across the world just because you can afford it, but being mindful of your carbon footprint, and consuming what’s locally available. In our case, we supplemented many of ingredients: the cheese arepas for soft tortillas with our own indigenous mix, and black beans from local farmin Pune,” says chef Nerlekar.
Across the country, Blue Zone tronomy has become a guide for restaurants, especially Mediterranean, to follow the same cooking philosophy. When you understand it as a way of life, you also see that you can derive the same nutrients you get from the Blue Zones in Indian food. Sesame, coffee, rice, nuts (especially peanuts), wheat, turmeric, millets, brinjal, beetroot, purple cabbage, berries, apples, dark chocolate and soybean- using these ingredients in your meals without too much frying and masalas, is a sure shot way to do this, says Meenakshi.
In fact, banker and strength trainer Vijay Kumar goes as far as to say that simply going back to the eating habits of your Indian ancestors could give you the same longevity and quality of life. “A meal of simple poriyal, kootu, pacchadi, sambar and rasam has all the micronutrients we need, and is also complimentary to our lifestyle. A Blue Zone diet isn’t one you have with an aim to beef up, but rather stay fit and healthy,” says Vijay, who some years ago, prescribed this to the people he trained as well.
“And finally, follow simple practices such as eating a smaller plate. having fewer varieties of each food, as against a buffet on the dining table, and winding up your last — ideally also your smallest meal by early evening,” says Meenakshi.