Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cheese: Part of the Magic Equation for Longevity

Could eating cheese extend your life? According to New York Times best-selling author, Dan Buettner, the answer is yes.

Avid traveler and health-nut, Buettner has discovered through his bicycling adventures that certain cultures have a higher population of centenarians. In his book, "The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest",  he found that Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy, was one of those longer-lived people groups.

Their diet consisting primarily of whole grain breads, fruits and vegetables, nuts, red wine, and cheese may be factors extending the lifespan of Sardinians by six years, according to Buettner.

Contrary to western culture, meat is rather once-in-a-week celebration than an essential component to the daily diet. Instead protein sources come from nuts, fava beans and cheese, more specifically, a grass-fed sheep's milk Pecorino Sardo, which is said to be high in heart-favorable Omega-3 fatty acids.

A very dark red wine, replete with neutralizing polyphenols, also accompanies meals which has the dual purpose of cleaning out the arteries.

This combination of fermented foods and fresh, natural, un-handled food seems to work as the magic formula making Sardinia one of the longest-lived communities in the world.

This, of course, is not a new discovery. Saint Benedict started eating this way as far back as 530 AD. Highly educated, and perhaps enlightened, Benedict escaped the tyranny of a privileged life in search of a more simple, meaningful way of living and thus, started what is known today as western monasticism.

St. Benedict and his monks sharing a meal

I love this painting I stumbled upon at Gherkins and Tomatoes.

Simple foods with occasional glitz; a basic diet with high quality cheese and other foods near their source, these are the makings of a healthy long life.

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