We've all heard of the infamous “blue zones” where average lifespans are unusually high. So, you may be wondering, what's their secret? Perhaps a deeper look into the following countries/regions with some of the world's highest life expectancies would help us better understand what key aspects may be responsible for retaining a phenomenally long life.
When it comes to longevity, Monaco is miles ahead of the curve. At a whopping average of about 89 years old for life expectancy, the locals have embraced low-stress healthy living by spending most of their time outdoors, enjoying over 300 days of sun per year. Their regular intake of the Mediterranean diet also helps explain why their citizens age so well. The dishes usually incorporate olives, garlic, vegetables, and plenty of fish, making their dining experience both nourishing and delectable.
2. Hong Kong
Despite the crowded streets and heavy traffic, Hong Kong has perfected the art of city travel by providing a safe public environment for its residents. The most common ways to get around are by subway, bus, or walking. Therefore, citizens get much-needed daily exercise commuting to and from work. Their emphasis on food freshness and the common practice of double boiling soups at every meal for more efficient extraction of nutrients has also been noted to contribute to greater overall health.
Being the “Las Vegas of Asia,” the region's strong economy gives residents access to great social programs like free education and healthcare. Natural disasters are rare, and the strong focus on public safety, a clean environment, and a low incidence of disease outbreak cases has helped its residents stay healthier over longer periods. Macau's population is also predominantly Cantonese and, therefore, follows the same healthy diet as those from Hong Kong.
It comes as no surprise to see Japan on this list. Okinawa is a blue zone where people regularly do low-intensity exercises such as walking and gardening to remain mobile. They also practice the 80% rule, stopping eating when they feel 80% full. This helps prevent overeating and staves off common health issues like obesity. Of course, their diet also comes into play. Though most people might assume that a diet rich in fish keeps them young, they incorporate mostly whole plant foods as a primary dietary staple.
Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and as such, residents get to enjoy a slew of benefits like good housing, low unemployment, and a healthy work-life balance, which all contribute to having a better quality of life. As far as their diet goes, it seems like dark chocolate has more benefits than just being delicious; it's also packed with flavonols that can have anti-aging and protective properties to prevent long-term heart problems.
Following its successful reduction of mortality rates, Singapore is now considered the newest member of the blue zones. Despite a rough battle with COVID-19, this country has fared well by providing inflation subsidies, universal healthcare, and free elderly community activities. Exercising both the mind and body is quintessential for staying happy and healthy throughout a person's life, especially during the latter years.
Italy's breathtaking coasts don't simply draw in a significant tourism crowd. It's also home to some of the longest-living people in the world. Sardinia is a blue zone where people have a strong sense of community and maintain traditions regarding healthy lifestyle practices. The antioxidant-rich wine and nutritious famine foods, comprising mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grain bread, and mastic oil, have likely helped extend their lives.
8. South Korea
Aside from their talented pop idols, South Korea has recently been climbing the charts for life expectancy. It seems that the improvement in living conditions and healthcare has started to pay off. The implementation of a national checkup system has provided its residents with regular health screenings and allows for earlier detection of diseases such as stomach and colon cancer. Along with proactive medical care, their consumption of fermented vegetables and healthier foods remains a prominent basis for their lengthened lifespans.
While Spain has beautiful weather, festive culture, and great healthcare, the main factor for longevity lies in their fondness for the Mediterranean diet, which they have in common with the Monacans. The delicious combinations of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil are a testament to the fact that you don't have to sacrifice taste for healthy eating. Furthermore, their understanding of proper portion sizing is evident in their concept of tapas, consisting of smaller dishes that are meant to be shared.
Being a smaller country has its perks. With a population of about 530,000 people, the high number of hospital beds and doctors per 1000 citizens is indicative of an easily accessible healthcare system. The Maltese also spend almost 90 percent of their lives in prime health, which is an impressively larger proportion when compared with other European countries.
The average lifespan in Australia has been increasing by leaps and bounds due to improvements in their healthcare system and maintaining a more active lifestyle. They also started a 20% health levy on sugary drinks to sustain this upward trend. They placed heavier alcohol restrictions to prove their dedication to keeping their citizens in better shape.
Sweden is a beautiful country with good drinking water, fresh air, and a clean environment. They also take social responsibilities very seriously. Taxes fund elderly care with fantastic benefits such as customized care depending on individual needs for transportation, housing, and home help. This strength in community and assistance to the elderly is where Sweden shines and can surely add precious years to a person's life.
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