The World’s No. 1 Healthiest Breakfast: 20 Years of Studying the Diets of 100-Year-Olds

For over two decades, I’ve dedicated my time as a researcher to studying the behaviors of those who live to be a hundred years old and even older, with a particular emphasis on the foods they consume. While conducting my research in Nicoya, Costa Rica, I believe I have discovered a contender for the world’s most wholesome breakfast.

In Nicoya, a group of individuals belonging to the Cooperativa Nicoya begin their days at an early 4:00 a.m. They meticulously prepare spicy bean dishes, corn dough infused with wood ash, and cook other traditional foods using clay ovens. The resulting dish is both a tribute to the ambience and to their much-prized longevity, their way of life that keeps them fit at a ripe old age.

What makes this traditional Nicoyan breakfast so impressively healthy? The foundational aspect is the corn tortillas, which offer an abundant source of beneficial complex carbohydrates made from whole grains. The method of using wood ash in the preparation of the corn dough enhances the flavor, while releasing the B vitamin niacin for enhanced cellular function.

In addition to this, the black beans play a part in the breakfast’s health benefits, containing significant antioxidants and other nutritional components that contribute to healthy living. The traditional bean-and-rice dish presents a fulfilling and nutritionally complete protein source, encompassing all essential amino acids required for human sustainability. To add to this, the distinct type of “pea berry” coffee and spicy chilero offer unique and essential antioxidants and other beneficial properties.

This breakfast, which can be enjoyed for just $4.23, provides valuable insights into the secrets of Nicoya’s longevity. You, too, can create your large batch of bean soup and savor it throughout the week.

Additionally, the nicotamal corn tortillas, which result from soaking the corn in wood ash or lime to release essential amino acids, offer a unique and delicious twist to regular breakfast fare. On the other hand, Jose Guevara’s Gallo Pinto recipe, which he has enjoyed up to 105 years of age, epitomizes the wholesome and satisfying rice and beans dish enjoyed by many Costa Ricans for every meal of the day.

Finally, the tender bean, potato, and onion stew – another staple of Costa Rican cuisine – brings together formidable flavors and nutrients in a single delicious, attractive pot.

Overall, the traditional Costa Rican cuisine presented here offers more than just a simple collection of recipes. The foods featured present a unique opportunity to learn and appreciate the secrets of healthy living from the individuals residing in the captivating and picturesque community of Nicoya. Besides the allure of traditional cuisine, these meals depict a way of life that engenders health and longevity.


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