One Unsuspecting Fruit The Blue Zones Founder Swears By For Longevity
If you had to guess longevity expert, National Geographic fellow, and Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner's favorite fruit, what would it be? Perhaps ones brimming with antioxidants come to mind, like anthocyanin-rich blueberries (that's what gives them their purple pigments), flavanol-filled pomegranates, or vitamin C powerhouses, like oranges. And while these options are certainly important to include in a well-rounded diet, the No. 1 spot actually belongs to a lunchbox classic: bananas.
On the mindbodygreen podcast, Buettner explains why he's such a fan—and we grabbed the details below.
The longevity-supporting benefits of bananas.
According to Buettner's anthropological research, fruit makes up about 9% of centenarians' diets who reside in the Nicoya Peninsula, a Blue Zone in Costa Rica. Bananas are a staple within that category, offering a variety of health benefits that can shift according to ripeness:
- Green, or less ripe, bananas contain resistant starch and pectins, which function as prebiotics in the gut.
- Yellow bananas lose some of this starch as it turns into simple sugars (that's why ripe bananas are sweeter). They also contain soluble and insoluble fibers, with about 3 grams per medium banana.
- Lastly, brown bananas contain the highest amount of simple sugars (most of their starch has converted to sugars); they also boast the highest levels of antioxidants1.
Nutrition facts aside, the biggest reason Buettner appreciates bananas is because, well, they're convenient. “They come in their own packaging!” he says. And practically speaking, bananas are affordable, enjoyable (assuming you like the flavor), and accessible. "The best longevity food is the food you're going to eat," Buettner adds, so if you have a thing for bananas? Consider them your No. 1 longevity-supporting snack.
"I wouldn't say it's the only fruit you should eat, but I would say that having a bowl full of fruit sitting on your table is a much better pull than having a toaster on your counter or a bag of chips in a clip," he continues. "Convenience is one of the most important elements of eating healthy," so let's make bananas (or any other nutritious fruit you prefer) the most available option in your kitchen, shall we?
Bananas are a solid choice when it comes to longevity-supporting foods, both because of their nutritional value and their practicality. Of course, bananas aren't the only fruit Buettner adores: For more foods that promote longevity, feel free to check out the rest of his recommendations here.
Olivia Giacomo is mbg's Social Media Associate. A recent graduate from Georgetown University, she has previously written for LLM Law Review.