In a comprehensive study spanning two decades, a researcher dedicated 20 years to examining the dietary habits of individuals who lived to be 100 years old or more, with a particular focus on their breakfast choices. The study led to the discovery of what is believed to be the world’s healthiest breakfast, hidden away in the remote corners of Nicoya, Costa Rica.
Under the shelter of red-tiled roofs, members of the Cooperativa Nicoya embark on their daily routine, beginning at 4:00 a.m. The process involves igniting wood fires in clay ovens, simmering cauldrons of spicy beans, and combining corn dough with wood ash. The result is a robust breakfast with several health benefits.
The cornerstone of this longevity-promoting dish is the corn tortillas, renowned for their chewy texture and nutty flavor, serving as an excellent source of whole-grain, low-glycemic complex carbohydrates. The wood ash, a crucial ingredient, facilitates the breakdown of corn’s cell walls, making niacin, a B vitamin essential for cell signaling and DNA repair, readily available. Moreover, the beans, enriched with anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in blueberries, contribute to colon cleansing, blood pressure regulation, and insulin management.
The combination of beans and rice forms a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids required for human sustenance. Additionally, the locally brewed coffee, derived from “pea berry” beans, offers antioxidants and metabolism-boosting caffeine. The inclusion of chilero, a condiment made with vinegar, carrots, and spicy peppers, not only imparts flavor but also introduces probiotics and curcumin, known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.
What sets this breakfast apart is not just its nutritional value but also its affordability, with a total cost of $4.23. Inspired by the Nicoyan lifestyle, the article suggests preparing a large batch of bean soup to enjoy throughout the week.
Nixtamal, a key component of the breakfast, involves corn dough mixed with wood ash, enhancing flavor and providing the essential B vitamin niacin. Click here to view the Nixtamal Tortilla recipe
Another traditional Costa Rican dish highlighted in the study is Jose Guevara’s Gallo Pinto, a rice and beans recipe often consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Concluding the exploration into Nicoya’s culinary secrets, the article introduces a hearty Bean, Potato, and Onion Stew, featuring black beans as a staple in Costa Rican cuisine. Rich in anthocyanins and antioxidants, this one-pot meal offers a nutritious option, pairing well with corn tortillas or rice. The affordability, simplicity, and health benefits of these Costa Rican dishes underscore the potential impact of dietary choices on longevity.
The author of this insightful research is Dan Buettner, an explorer, longevity researcher, National Geographic Fellow, and award-winning journalist and producer. Known for his best-selling books, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” and “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People,” Buettner’s work sheds light on the dietary and lifestyle practices that contribute to longevity.