SUPERFOODS FOR LONGEVITY: Specialties Favoured by Long-Lived People Around the World

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A pumpkin pie with a a slice being taken out.

This “No-Bake Pumpkin Pie” blends the local autumn harvest with longevity-promoting coconut oil

Do you want to live to be 110? You might be surprised by how many people are reluctant to answer that question with enthusiasm. One reason is that they believe their final 10 years will be full of pain. So, a better angle would focus on one’s ‘health’ span rather than just ‘life’ span. What if you could live to 110 with vitality, purpose, and happiness? Why do some people thrive well past 100 years of age with mobility, mental clarity, and energy – yet others have their light snuffed out too soon?

A supercentenarian is someone who has lived to their 110th birthday or beyond (Jeanne Calment of France still holds the record as the longest confirmed human lifespan living 122 years, 164 days). Remarkably, nearly all people who live this long are free of major age-related diseases like dementia, Type 2 diabetes, or autoimmune disease. When they finally pass away, they often go peacefully, during a nap for example. Is it luck? Genes? Or do they have habits that we can adopt which could lead us to this kind of graceful aging? As a holistic nutritionist and anti-inflammatory expert, I have spent my life seeking answers to this question, and the answer is a resounding yes – we can do it too.

Lifestyles of the Longest-Lived People

Contrary to the gene theory, it is our lifestyle choices that make the greatest impact on longevity. Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and author of The Blue Zones, has reported on distinct lifestyle practices which many people living over 100 with vitality have in common. The longest-living people reside in the following regions: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Before looking at their diet, let’s review a few of the lifestyle habits that are common among the longest living on earth:

1) Do Authentic Movement: All long-lived people get lots of exercise from physical work in gardens, farms, and around the house. Dog walking, bike riding, and gardening also contribute to the longevity ‘healthstyle’.

2) Have a Purpose: It is important to find a place of contribution so that we can stay engaged and positive as we age. Instead of retirement, many centenarians embrace jobs that they love, including managing community gardens or taking care of grandchildren.

3) Love: A cornerstone of longevity is expressing gratitude and sharing love with one’s tribe. The reduction of stress dramatically reduces inflammation.

4) Eat Anti-inflammatory Food: Menus of the long-lived are packed with anti-aging nutrients that have the power to enhance and extend life. A focus on plants, fibre, and omega-3 is key, and every menu has flavourful fats that make meals taste great!

Favourite Foods of Centenarians

Let’s take a tour around the world to learn some of the powerful foods that are eaten in longevity zones.


Coconuts in a tree

COCONUT – has different parts and uses: the liquid water portion contains high levels of B vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and vitamin C; the dried kernel (copra) is mainly fat and used for oil extraction. The fatty acid profile of coconut is what makes it one of today’s most popular superfoods – coconut oil is one of the richest sources of a saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs are absorbed and used quickly by the body as a source of energy, or are converted to ketone bodies beneficial for brain health. Coconuts and coconut oil also contain flavonoids and other polyphenols that act as antioxidants, protecting against free radicals, oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and cancer.

COCOA – Not only is cocoa delightful to eat, it contains approximately 380 bioactive compounds such as polyphenols (catechins) and methylxanthines. In fact, cocoa has a higher level of phenols than green tea and red wine, making it a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that regular consumption of cocoa rich in polyphenols is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. The high polyphenol profile increases HDL, decreases LDL, and improves blood sugar and blood pressure.


DANDELION GREENS – These rank high in overall nutritional value amongst leafy greens and are loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols, plus vitamins A and C. Their antioxidant potential is of significance for longevity because it decreases oxidative stress (which underlies the disease process) and slows down the aging of cells. Dandelion greens are also wonderful for protecting the liver and supporting its role as the body’s main detoxification organ, clearing toxins that can both age us and increase our risk of diseases.

Fragrant Fennel: A Culinary and Medicinal Wonder PlantFENNEL – In Indian and Greek mythology, fennel symbolizes longevity and immortality. Part of the parsley family, fennel is used both as a vegetable and a spice. It is well known as a natural remedy for digestive disorders, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory food, reducing the risk of disease and increasing antioxidant activity in the body. It also affects cholesterol levels by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and inhibiting the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL). Between that and its high potassium content, fennel can support the cardiovascular system.

SARDINES – They may be small in size and environmental footprint, but sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients such as vitamin D, selenium, and vitamin B12. The health benefits of omega-3s come from their anti-inflammatory action which helps to prevent medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids can keep the LDL cholesterol in check, while increasing HDL cholesterol levels and nourishing the cardiovascular system.


Seaweed SaladSEAWEED – contains many bioactive compounds and polysaccharides that are not found in any terrestrial plants. Studies comparing Japanese to Western diets have linked the consumption of seaweed to a decrease in chronic diseases such as cancer, cholesterol, and heart disease. Many seaweed species contain healthy fatty acids like long-chain omega-3s and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are protective for the cardiovascular system. As well, seaweeds have anti-cancer properties as shown by studies linking seaweed to reduced cancer risk, especially breast cancer in premenopausal women via estrogen metabolism.

GINGER – Rich in phytonutrients, ginger is frequently used as a spice and condiment to add flavour to food. But flavour and aroma is not the only reason to use ginger. Its medicinal properties help to decrease inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Regular consumption of this herb can also decrease the risk of various cancers such as colorectal, ovarian, liver, skin, breast, and prostate. Gingerols, shogaol, and paradols are this plant’s main constituents which work to promote health and alleviate many ailments, even slowing the aging process in cells.


GARLIC – This is a truly a wonderful herb with strong healing powers. It can kill microbes (bacteria, fungus, viruses), lower blood pressure and cholesterol, thin the blood to prevent blood clots, and even prevent cancer. What makes it so powerful is its high content of sulfur compounds, which are responsible for its flavour, odour, and medicinal benefits. Another important component is allicin, which is what makes garlic such a terrific natural antibiotic that can kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms including salmonella, E. coli, Staph aureus, and H. pylori to name a few.

OLIVES – and olive oil are staples in the diets of those who populate countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. These people tend to have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and enjoy increased longevity and life expectancy. Olives are high in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) and phenols, both beneficial for normalizing cholesterol levels.

Olive oil contains the highest amount of squalene (a plant-based fat) compared to other seasoning oils, and is the compound linked to chemoprotection and lower incidence of cancers seen in those who consume a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil’s components are anti-inflammatory and play a role in decreasing the inflammation involved in bone resorption in postmenopausal women, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.


AVOCADOS – Consumers of avocados get significantly more vitamin K, E, potassium, and magnesium than those who skip this fruit. Avocados are also high in the B vitamins, choline, phytosterols, and healthy fats which support a wide range of health benefits. The daily consumption of avocados has been shown as beneficial for keeping cholesterol levels and body weight healthy. Avocados contain good levels of both vitamin C and E, as well as xanthophylls (a class of carotenoids), all acting as antioxidants to protect against DNA damage. Not only are avocados great at supporting longevity internally, they also inhibit the aging of skin due to their highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin levels that protect against UV damage.

SPIRULINA – is a microalgae rich in carotenoids and antioxidant compounds. Spirulina has been reported to decrease oxidative stress and reduce cholesterol levels. The exact compound in spirulina responsible for lowering cholesterol levels is still unknown but is suspected to be phycocyanin, a protein. Phycocyanin is also important for cancer prevention, along with beta-carotenoids which potentially help protect against cancer due to their antioxidant action and immune modulation characteristics. Spirulina is low in calories but high in nutrients, iodine, folate, and magnesium.


The Best No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Ever!

Pumpkin pie is a favourite in our house at Thanksgiving, so my sister Lynn Daniluk came up with a version that tasted as good as the original, but without all that sugar and fat. This no-bake pie will be a hit at your dinner table and it won’t take up any prime real estate in the oven of a busy holiday kitchen! (Makes 8 servings)


  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp pink rock or grey sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • 3 cups cooked puréed pumpkin/squash
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 4 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup agar agar

1) Put pecans in a food processor and process until they turn into ‘meal’. Add honey, salt, and cinnamon and process again until well mixed. Press mixture into a 10” pie plate.

2) In a large pot on medium low heat add coconut oil, cooked pumpkin, salt, honey, vanilla and spices. Stir until well blended. Add agar agar and continue to mix until the mixture begins to set.

3) If the mixture is too chunky, let cool slightly and transfer it to a food processor and mix until smooth.

4) Pour pumpkin mixture into the crust. Chill for 1 hour to let the pie set.

Traditional Dandelion Salad

View the full printable recipe

Organic Danelions


This simple salad can be added to lunch or dinner. Try it with baked sardines for extra omega nutrition!

  • 8 cups dandelion leaves, chopped


  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp pink or gray sea salt
  • ½ tsp honey or coconut nectar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fennel SaladFennel Ginger Salad

View the full printable recipe

This salad combines the anti-inflammatory power of fennel with the pungent, digestion-stimulating effects of ginger. (Makes 8 servings.)

  • 4 cups sliced fennel
  • ½ cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup almonds or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large tangerine, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 large pear, cubed
  • 1 large apple, cubed
  • 1 large ripe avocado, cubed

Avocado SmoothieAvocado Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

View the full printable recipe

I love smoothie bowls for breakfast – fast, easy, and so delicious. This recipe is great for those following a sugar-free plan. Otherwise, you may wish to add in the banana for extra creaminess. All of these ingredients feed the brain and provide the mental focus and energy you need to get up and go first thing in the morning. (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 cup coconut beverage
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower lecithin
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp inositol powder (use more stevia if you don’t have this)
  • 10 drops stevia liquid or 1 Tbsp of raw honey

Meals that Heal Seaweed Salad

Seaweed SaladView the full printable recipe

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 2 cups aramis or hijinks (seaweed cut into thin strips)
    4 cups filtered water
    1 cup cucumber, quartered and chopped
    ½ cup green onion, chopped
    ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
    2 Tbsp toasted sesame or extra virgin olive oil
    ½ cup carrots, julienne or shredded
    ¼ cup lemon juice
    2 Tbsp tamarin (wheat free)

Rinse the seaweed well. Place in a small pot with the water and bring to a boil for
 7 minutes. Drain and place in large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. (This salad will last for up to 3 days in the fridge.)

Caveman Chocolate

View the full printable recipe

Having a chocolate craving but can’t find a treat without cane sugar or dairy? Here’s the answer for you!

  • ½ cup coconut oil
    ½ cup raw cocoa powder
    3 Tbsp honey or coconut syrup
    ½ tsp vanilla extract or mint extract

Optional Toppings: almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, coconut, cinnamon, coarse sea salt, dried fruit.

Pour over fruit in ice cube trays for a fancy look!

Gently melt coconut oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla extract into melted oil until well blended. Pour mixture into a candy moulds or pliable silicone tray. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Best served chilled to avoid melting.

To make it more creamy, you can sub out ¼ cup of coconut oil for coconut butter. Be sure to melt the butter into the oil gently before adding the rest of the ingredients. Do not use coconut butter alone as it will burn.

Pumpkin Rice Pudding with Cranberries

Pumpkin Rice PuddingThis is a wonderful comfort dish brimming with healthy ingredients to keep your immune system in tip top shape this season. (Makes 8 servings.)

  • 3 cups coconut beverage (2% coconut milk)
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch pink sea salt
  • 1/3 cup apple-juice-sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup yaçon syrup or honey

Bring coconut beverage, rice, zest, and salt to a boil in an uncovered pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

Add cranberries and cinnamon. Cook on low for another 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. The rice should be very creamy.

Stir vanilla into pudding. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Fold coconut milk, hemp seeds, and pumpkin puree into pudding. Sprinkle with cinnamon. If desired, sweeten with a drizzle of yaçon syrup or honey.


Dandelion References:
•    Al-Malki A. Abo-Golayel M., Abo-Elnaga G., Al-Beshri H. “Hepatoprotective effect of dandelion against induced chronic liver cirrhosis”.  Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. (2013); 7: 1494-1505.
•    Fiedor J., Burda K. “Potential role of carotenoids as antioxidants in human health and disease”. Nutrients. (2014); 6: 466-488.
•    Ozcan M., Paksoy M., Unver A. “The antioxidant capacity and total phenol contents of leave and roots of Taraxacum officinale”. Journal of Agroalimentary Processes and Technologies. (2012); 18: 270-271.

Fennel References:
•    Choi E., Hwang J. “Antiinflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare.” Fitoterapia. (2004); 557-565.
•    Willcox D., Willcox B., Todoriki H., Suzuki M. “The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2009); 28: 500S-516S.

Sardines References:
•    Zhang R., Naughton D. “Vitamin D in health and disease: Current perspective.” Nutrition Journal. (2010); 9: 65.
•    Kris-Etherton P. Harris W., Appel L. “Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease.” Circulation. (2002); 106: 2747-2757.
•    Bulliyya G. “Influence of fish consumption on the distribution of serum cholesterol in lipoprotein fractions: comparative study among fish-consuming and non-fish-consuming population.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2002); 11: 104-111.

Seaweed References:
•    Brown E., Allsopp P., Magee P., Gill C., Nitecki S., Strain C., McSorley E. “Seaweed and human health.” Nutrition Reviews. (2014): 72; 205-216.
•    Willcox D., Willcox B., Todoriki H., Suzuki M. “The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2009); 28: 500S-516S.

Ginger References:
•    Mashhadi N., Ghiasvand R., Askari G., Hariri M., Darvishi L., Mofid M. “Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence”. Int J Prev Med. (2013); 4: S36-S42.

Garlic References:
•    Gebreyohannes G., Gebreyohannes M. “Medicinal values of garlic: a review”. International Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. (2013); 5: 401-408.
Bayan L., Koulivand P., Gorji A. “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects.” Avicenna J Phytomed. (2014); 4: 1-14.

Olive References:
•    Omar S. “Olive: native of Mediterranean region and health benefits.” Pharmacognosy Reviews. (2008); 2: 135-142.
•    Del Rio L., Gutierrez-Casado E., Varela-Lopez A., Villalba J. “Olive oil and the hallmarks of aging.” Molecules. (2016); 21: 1-30.

Avocado References:
•    Dreher M., Davenport A. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. (2013); 53: 738-750.

Almond References:
•    Ros E. “Health benefits of nut consumption.” Nutrients. (2010); 2: 652-682.
•    Jenkins D., Kendall C., MArchie A., Parker T., Connelly P., Quian W., Haight J., Faulkner D., Vidgen E., Lapsley K., Spiller G. “Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial.” Circulation. (2002); 106: 1327-1332.

Spirulina References:
•    Willcox D., Willcox B., Todoriki H., Suzuki M. “The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2009); 28: 500S-516S.
•    Deng R., Chow T. “Hypolipidemic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of microalgae spirulina.” Cardiovasc Ther. (2010); 28: e33-e45.
•    Karkos P., Leong S., Karkos C., Sivaj N., Assimakopoulos D. “Spirulina in clinical pactice: evidence-based human applications.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2011); 1-4.

Cocoa References:
•Andjuar I., Recio M., Giner R., Rios J. “Cocoa polyphenols and their potential benefits for human health.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. (2012); 23.
•    Franco R., Onatibia-Astibia A., Martinez-Pinilla E. “Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate.” Nutrients. (2013); 5: 4159-4173.
•    Goya L., Martin M., Sarria B., Ramos S., Mateos R., Bravo L. “Effect of cocoa and its flavonoids on biomarkers of inflammation: studies of cell culture, animals and humans.” Nutrients. (2016); 8: 212.

Coconut References:
•    Boemeke L., Marcadenti A., Busnello F., Gottschall C. “Effects of coconut oil on human health.” Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases. (2015); 5: 84-87.
•    DebMandal M., Mandal S. “Coconut: in health promotion and disease prevention.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. (2011); 241-247.

For more interesting facts on longevity: Buettner, Dan (2012-11-06). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 9781426209499.




Nutritionist and TV personality, Julie Daniluk is the award-winning, bestselling author of Meals That Heal Inflammation & Slimming Meals That Heal. Her 3rd book, Hot Detox, was on the Canadian Bestseller’s list for 11 weeks in 2017. Julie’s 4th book, Becoming Sugar-Free, was released on September 7, 2021. Julie has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including The Dr. Oz Show. She is in her 11th season as a resident expert for The Marilyn Denis Show. Check out more information at and connect with her on Facebook & Instagram @juliedaniluk


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  1. Olivia Green
    September 16, 22:20 Olivia Green

    Thank you for this amazing information on Superfoods, Julie!
    I’ve been focusing on a calorie surplus to build muscle for over years now, and constant force feeding led to severe bloating and indigestion. It was only after I started considering more superfood powders and products into my diet, that I was able to recover back from the indigestion.

    Reply this comment
  2. M
    June 26, 22:29 Mi

    Do an anti COVID article ie natural immunity so do recipes with foods to include: zinc to stop viral replication vitamin D to build T cells liquorice elderflower to stop spikes locking

    Reply this comment

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