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Live More Good Years

Want to live longer — and healthier? These secrets from a sleepy Greek island could show you the way

Eat Like an Ikarian


Maintain a Mediterranean diet:
Around the world, people who most faithfully stick to a so-called Mediterranean diet — a regimen high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish — outlive people who don't by about six years. The Ikarian version features more potatoes than grains (because they grew better in the mountains) and more meat than fish (because the sea was a day's journey away).

Meze salad plate with olive oil.

Are fresh vegetables and olive oil ingredients for a long life? — Steve Outram/Aurora Photos

Open the olive oil: Ikaria's consumption of olive oil is among the world's highest. Residents drizzle antioxidant-rich extra-virgin oil over food after cooking, which preserves healthful properties in the oil that heat destroys.

Bake bread: The island's sourdough bread is high in complex carbohydrates and may improve glucose metabolism and stave off diabetes.

Grow your own garden (or find farmers' markets): Fruits and vegetables eaten soon after picking are higher in compounds that decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Enjoy some Greek honey: The local honey contains antibacterial, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. (Unfortunately, the health benefits of Ikarian honey do not extend to American honey, as far as we know.)

Graze on greens: More than 150 varieties of wild greens grow on Ikaria. Some have more than ten times the level of antioxidants in red wine.

Sip herbal teas: Steeping wild mint, chamomile, or other herbs in hot water is a lifelong, daily ritual. Many teas lower blood pressure, which decreases the risk of heart disease and dementia.

Next: How you can live like an Ikarian. >>

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