Legumes- the Secret to Longevity?
Today I talked to the fabulous Green Pages networking group in Chester about nutrition and lifestyle for healthy ageing. Earlier this month, the Royal College of GPs predicted an explosion in chronic illness in the next 10 years.
These areas have a higher percentage of their inhabitants living into their 90s and 100s, with much lower incidences of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, than is found in typical westernised countries
Certain common themes run through all these regions, such as sense of purpose, family, exercise done as part of an everyday routine, for example walking, tending to crops/livestock and fishing. Nutritionally, it is found that most eat a largely plant-based diet with produce that is harvested locally and seasonally.
As can be seen from this diagram comparing just 3 of the Blue Zones, another common nutritional staple is legumes. These are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils and are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre.
The type of legumes eaten will vary between regions but they still have similar benefits.
So, to accompany the talk, I rustled up a few black bean brownies to quieten any rumbling tummies just as lunchtime approached. Compared to conventional brownies, these are much lower in sugar (derived from dates (so added fibre and nutrients including iron, potassium and B-vitamins) and maple syrup (high in manganese and zinc;involved in energy production and immune system function respectively) and will also keep blood sugars more stable by providing protein from the beans, almonds and chia, with some healthy essential fats being provided by the latter too. What’s not to like?
The recipe for these delicious morsels can be found here. However….. they should still only be enjoyed as an occasional treat. Another factor that contributes towards healthy ageing is caloric restriction and the Okinawan 80% rule of only eating until you are 80% full. (Hara Hachi Bu)
My version varied slightly in that my dates weren’t medjool which tend to be quite soft, so I added a little extra water to reduce the stiffness of the mixture.
If you like this recipe, you may like to have a look at others I have collected and put on a pinterest board. I haven’t tried them all, it’s just a good place to deposit all those recipes that I will possibly try in the future. Let me know if you try anything and can recommend.
Look out for my next blog in a few days in which I’ll share my take on kale crisps- also sampled by the lovely ladies at Green Pages earlier today
To your optimal health!