Healthy Greek Isle Fosters Longer Lives

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2009 6:20 PM CDT
Adventurer and author Dan Buettner practices yoga. In his new book The Blue Zones, Buettner identifies four hot spots on the globe which have people living healthy in their old age.   (AP Photo/Dawn Villella)
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(Newser) – Researchers have discovered every health nut's dream in the North Aegean Sea: an island with the highest percentage of nonagenarians on the planet, NPR reports. On the Greek isle of Icaria, nearly one in three make it to age 90, and residents have far lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Their secret should come as no surprise: healthy, active lifestyles.

In this so-called blue zone—an area where people live longer lives—residents dwell in mountainous villages and burn up calories by walking. Their diets are high in olive oil, fruits, and herbal teas that lower blood pressure. And 150 kinds of wild vegetables flourish there with "somewhere around 10 times the level of antioxidants in red wine,” says author and blue zone expert Dan Buettner.