What you eat plays a tremendous role in how long you live and how well you live and whether you remain fit mentally and physically.  Your diet has to be the main component of a healthy lifestyle that includes being active, social and mindful.

You should aim for a plant-based diet, letting animal products occupy an increasingly smaller portion of your plate  Author Dan Buettner, who has visited the “Blue Zones” of the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives, finds that the Blue Zones diets are 90 to 100% plant-based, with meat, dairy and sweets making rare appearances.

Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Studies have shown that consuming more fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of death from all causes, especially cardiovascular disease.  Your minimum per day should be five servings, with nine per day being your goal.  Try adding a cup of fruit to your breakfast and one snack, as well as a cup of veggies at lunch and two at dinner.  Choose from a full color palette, with the brightest and deepest hues being the highest in antioxidants and also making sure to include dark green leafy vegetables.

Emphasize plant proteins like beans, nuts and grains to replace animal sources.  Nuts are highly nutritious sources of healthful fat, plant protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and key minerals like potassium and magnesium.  Beans are not only excellent sources of plant protein, fiber and minerals, they are also cheap and versatile, being easy to incorporate into meatless dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.

Choose whole grain foods like oats, brown rice, barley, bulgur and quinoa instead of refined grains like white flour, white rice and white pasta.  Cook meals at home, using healthy fats from nuts, olive oil and avocado as well as using herbs and spices liberally.

If you choose to eat foods from animal sources occasionally, focus on Omega-3 rich fish like salmon or mackerel and consume dairy and eggs moderately.

Drinks lots of water and green tea, while not shying away from enjoying coffee or a glass of wine with dinner or a piece of dark chocolate for dessert.

Eat well and life your life with purpose, making time to enjoy friends, family and community.

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