With January right around the corner, why not take a few diet tips from the longest-living communities in the world?

A 99 year old man on a daily 3 mile uphill walk to tend a herd of goats. Ikaria Island, Greece.  Photo: Getty

It’s that time of year again. The season of overindulgence is coming to a close: you’ve consumed your bodyweight in chocolate and your sole form of exercise has consisted of lifting a champagne glass while prostrate on the sofa.

Suddenly, the conversation has shifted from mince pies and mulled wine to juice cleanses and – horror – the gym.

But, before you embark on January atonement, why not consider these simple diet tips from the world’s longest living communities?


Home to the largest proportion of 90-year-olds in the world, the people of Ikaria live 10 years longer than Europeans and Americans.

With significantly lower rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia and depression, the Greek island’s mountainous terrain and limited transport options force locals to remain extremely active well into their 80s and 90s. In addition to their high levels of physical fitness, Ikarian nonagenarians also boast active sex lives.

The Ikarian diet revolves around an abundance of olive oil, copious amounts of fruit and vegetables, and very little processed food.

The secret to inhabitants’ longevity is sometimes attributed to a mountain herbal tea containing spleenwort, purple sage, mint and rosemary, imbibed by locals several times a day.


With one of the highest life expectancies in the world, the people of Okinawa, Japan, know a thing or two about longevity. Research suggests that Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and hormone-dependent cancers. So, what’s their secret?

A 104-year-old Okinawan woman (Getty)

Low in calories, but rich in nutritional value, the Okinawan diet consists largely of fish and vegetables.

Inhabitants eat very little meat and dairy, instead opting for squid and octopus, which are thought to lower cholesterol and blood pressure due to their high levels of taurine.

Okinawans eat more tofu and konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, and favour sweet potatoes – which are low GI and rich in antioxidants – over white.


The Sardinian diet is considered healthy (Alamy)

With an unusually-high proportion of centenarians, the people of Sardinia attribute their longevity to the island’s unpolluted air, stress-free lifestyle and healthy diet.

The Sardinian diet contains a blend of locally-grown ingredients, health-boosting nutrients and a portion-controlled diet.

Rich in olive oil, vegetables and nuts, the Sardinian diet is low in meat intake, but occasionally features regionally-sourced lean meats and oily fish.

Sardinians drink wine made from grapes rich in polyphenols and other antioxidants which, imbibed in moderation, are thought to decelerate the aging process.


Ingredients for a long and healthy life; sardines, red wine and olive oil (Alamy)

Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines

Squid, octopus


Konbu seaweed

Sweet potatoes instead of Maris Piper

Dark green and brightly coloured veg

Olive oil

Red wine