Eating in the Blue Zone: Fish Recipes Inspired by the World’s Healthiest Regions

Baked fish with garlic and lemon butter sauce

If you’ve ever wished you could live a longer, healthier life, you’re not alone—and bonus, it’s not an unattainable goal! Around the globe there are several communities that host some of the longest living and healthiest people. These areas are called Blue Zones, and among the factors that keep their centenarians going strong is a balanced plant-based diet. When it comes to meat, their top choice is fish.

Fish has been a go-to protein for people all over the world for centuries. They are chock-full of important nutrients, such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that many people lack and can get by eating more fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in all fish, are important for early development and maintaining optimal brain function.

The five Blue Zones of Okinawa (Japan); Sardinia (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Icaria (Greece); and Loma Linda (California, USA), consume fish as a primary source of protein. The people in these zones have been observed to have lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart disease. Other primary ingredients such as beans, herbs, citrus fruits and pasteurized cheeses, help round out their daily nutrient intake, combining to make an ideal combination of natural foods.

Here’s some recipes inspired by these different regions to help you plan meals fit for a centenarian.

Italy: Fish Puttanesca

Fish simmered in tomato and herb sauce

If you feel like diving into the Mediterranean sea and basking in the Tuscan sun, try out this Italian fish dish, perfect for fresh or frozen fish. Fish Puttanesca, or pesce alla puttanesca, is a skillet-based dish of white fish simmered in a rich tomato and herb sauce. Add in fresh kalamata olives, dry white wine and anchovies, and you’ll have reinvented one of the Blue Zones classic recipes for everlasting life.

Try the recipe: Fish Puttanesca from My Gourmet Connection.

California: California-style Fish Tacos

fish tacos with fresh salsa

White fish like Tilapia is a perfect choice for fish tacos. It is mild enough to be lightly fried or battered and let the flavors of fresh toppings shine while providing a healthy dose of protein. These California-style fish tacos are a delicious way to incorporate fish and veggies into your diet—elements also present in the Golden State’s Blue Zone diet. Why not eat to boost your immune system and have fun in the sun while doing so?

Try the recipe: California-Style Fish Tacos from Woman’s Day Kitchen.

Greece: Mediterranean Baked Cod with Lemon & Garlic

Seared fish with lemon slices and herbs

Let’s head back to the Mediterranean with this recipe, but switch up the flavor profile. This pan-baked dish is a citrus bomb, full of zest and garlic. Cod works fabulously in this recipe, but could be successfully replaced with other white fish like halibut or Tilapia. Whichever fish you choose, it’ll pop with a quick pan sear before baking it doused in lemon sauce.

Try the recipe: Easy Mediterranean Baked Cod with Lemon and Garlic from The Mediterranean Dish.

Japan: Japanese Simmered Fish

White fish fillet with soy sauce

Far out in the North Pacific Ocean rests one of the oldest Blue Zone communities in Okinawa, Japan. The Japanese have a reputation of long-lived and healthy people, due to their fresh ingredients and natural diet. This recipe calls for a subtle white fish to allow the complex flavours of ginger, sake and soy sauce to flourish. It involves simmering the fish in a sauce and then grilling it lightly, to then be served with rice and topped with a fresh ginger and green onion garnish.

Try the recipe: Japanese Simmered Fish from the Spruce Eats.

Costa Rica: Costa Rican Fish Ceviche

Ceviche recipe with chopped ingredients around it

If you feel like heading somewhere tropical in your kitchen, try out this white fish ceviche. This recipe uses raw white fish that “cooks” in a bath of lime juice. Cubed and mixed with fresh pepper, red onion, ginger and cilantro, this tasty and chilled dish will transport you under a palm tree.

Try the recipe: Costa Rican Fish Ceviche from Pura Vida Moms.

Folks in the Blue Zones have arguably perfected a lifestyle and diet that involves high-quality proteins. The beauty is that it’s completely attainable for anyone anywhere to recreate for themselves and enjoy the benefits fish provide.

Interested in learning more about incorporating seafood into a healthy diet? Read why Scientists Agree: This is Why You Should Eat More Seafood.

Photo Credits: AS Food studio / Shutterstock Inc., hlphoto / Shutterstock Inc., Guajillo studio / Shutterstock Inc., Jacek Chabraszewski / Shutterstock Inc., Mikhail Valeev / Shutterstock Inc. FelipeSaborioTabash / Shutterstock Inc