Dietary habits, lifestyles, longevity, Nicoya peninsula, Costa Rica
Healthy diets and physical activity are recommended to prevent early onset of chronic diseases. However, little is known about the lifestyle characteristics associated with longevity particularly in low and middle-income countries. We examined dietary and lifestyle characteristics of men (n=18) and women (n=16) aged 90 to 109 years old living in the “Blue Zone” of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. All participants
were visited at their home for anthropometric measurements and data collection using validated lifestyle and food frequency questionnaires.(6) Most participants (89% of men and 69% of women), reported being physically active throughout their
life. There were very few overweight or obese individuals (9% and 3%, respectively); whereas 75% of women and 44% of men were classified as having abdominal obesity, and 56% of women and 44% of men as being underweight. Over 65% reported intake of fruits and vegetables, black beans, corn tortillas, white rice, “gallo pinto”, dairy products, and “fresco” 1-3 times per day. None of the participants reported daily intake of red meat, sweets or salty snacks. In addition, 65% reported intake of red meat 2-6 times per week compared to 82% and 56% who reported intake of chicken and fish, respectively. Thus, the long-lived inhabitants of the “Blue Zone” of the Peninsula de Nicoya in Costa Rica are characterized by a diet and lifestyle that is consistent with evidence-based recommendations to promote long and healthy lives.