Many residents of the Greek island of Ikaria live to be over 100 years old. A chef now reveals a possible secret for a long life.

The residents of the Greek island of Ikaria live in one of the world-famous “Blue Zones” – which means they live to an above-average age there. CNBC’s Diane Kochilas, whose family has lived on the island for generations and owns a cooking school there, reports on the secret ingredient that gives the people of Ikaria a longer life than the rest of the world: honey made by local beekeepers.

The traditional cuisine on Ikaria includes this honey as an essential ingredient; many islanders start their day with a spoonful of this natural sweetener. In addition to its antibacterial properties and antioxidants, honey is also valued as a folk remedy for colds and as an herbal tonic.

The blue zones also include Sardinia, the southern Japanese island of Okinawa and Nicoya in Costa Rica, reports the “Tagesschau”. Honey is not the only food that is increasingly consumed in these places. The eating habits of many of the regions are characterized, among other things, by a high consumption of beans, olive oil, nuts and especially green vegetables. Unlike in the western hemisphere, where many products are highly processed, people in the blue zones also value unprocessed, natural foods, according to the “Tagesschau”.

The “Tagesschau” further reports that the blue zones are characterized by their isolated location. These promote genetic adaptations to the environment and thus enable a longer life expectancy.

Physical and mental activity is another factor that shapes life in the blue zones. Residents are often active outdoors, which benefits not only their physical but also their mental health.

The psychological component should not be underestimated: René Schwerdtel, a photographer who has portrayed centenarians in these regions, says that the most important thing for the people there is passion for a life’s work. This is in contrast to the often desired but perhaps “counterproductive” well-deserved pension in the Western world.

Another aspect that should not be neglected is the climate in the blue zones. All are at a similar geographical latitude, bringing warmer temperatures and encouraging active outdoor living. Although the exact role of climate on longevity is not fully understood, it is thought that higher temperatures may have a positive impact on human activity levels.

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