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Food

Ikaria among Blue Zones where Healthy Diet & Honey Help People Live Longer

November 16, 2021

NEW YORK – Family-owned Bushs Beans announced in October a new line of organic plant-based bowl toppers and soups developed in partnership with Blue Zones LLC, an organization dedicated to helping people live healthier, longer through the identification and research of the worlds longest-lived cultures, and is offering a limited direct-to-consumer run of the new product ahead of the nationwide retail launch in 2022.

The blue zones, discovered by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, are the five areas in the world where people live the longest, with more residents living to be 100 years old (making them centenarians) than anywhere else on Earth. They are Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.

While these places vary geographically, the people who live there share similar lifestyle habits like moving naturally, putting family first, and eating a mostly plant-based diet – including a lot of beans (at least 1/2 cup a day). In fact, people in the blue zones eat four times as many beans, on average, as Americans do, and Blue Zones Chief Medical Officer Dexter Shurney calls beans the cornerstone of centenarian diets.”

That is why it is only fitting that the authority on beans for generations would join Blue Zones on a mission to empower everyone, everywhere to live longer, more joyful lives through the celebration of beans. How? By making a staple food of the blue zones accessible and convenient for all.

Weve been in the bean business for generations, and like the Blue Zones team, we passionately believe that beans, humble though they are, are an essential part of a diet and lifestyle that may help people live healthier, longer,” said Stephen Palacios, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at Bushs. Were honored to partner with the organization to spread the word and develop convenient, nutritious, and of course delicious, meal solutions that make it easy and enjoyable to eat like they do in the blue zones.”

Ikarian honey is also a staple of the healthy diet on the Greek island where “many older residents eat honey at least twice a day,” according to the Blue Zones website.

In a segment on Ikaria honey, CBS News noted that research from “the University of Athens concluded that Ikaria’s are more than twice as likely as Americans to reach age 90, often in better health.”

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Diane Kochila’s whose roots are from Ikaria spoke with CBS News about Ikarian honey. “What was it in ‘Mary Poppins’ – ‘Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’? Well, with a spoonful of honey, you don’t need medicine,” Kochilas told CBS News.

“For centuries humans have valued honey for its medicinal properties,” CBS News reported, adding that “in Ikaria, known in ancient times as the ‘healing island,’ the honey is different from that found on most supermarket shelves.”

“First of all, there’s no industrial farming on the island,” Kochilas told CBS News. “There’s very few commercial undertakings whatsoever. So, nature is pretty pure.”

“As a result, the pollen and nectar collected by the bees is free of chemicals and pesticides normally found in commercial or private farming,” CBS News reported, noting that “unlike most honey sold in the U.S., Ikarian honey is also unheated, unfiltered, and unpasteurized – all processes which can destroy the natural vitamins and minerals.”

Ikarians “also use honey to treat everything from the common cold to minor wounds,” the Blue Zones website noted, referring to a Mayo Clinic article which pointed out that “honey is commonly used as a cough suppressant and topically to treat minor burns and wounds, but research also shows that it has the potential to be used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, to relieve gastrointestinal tract issues, and to help relieve neurological conditions such as depression and anxiety.”  

When asked about spreading the word about Ikarian honey, Kochilas told CBS News, “I have to be honest, that’s a double-edged sword, because we want to share, of course, the goodness. But we also want to retain the purity of the place and keep it more or less as it is.”

Ikarian honey is available online through various retailers, but be advised that shipping may be delayed due to the current supply chain issues.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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