What the Science Shows


Welcome to lesson 3 of our module “The Power of Nutrition”: What the Science Shows

In this lesson, we peek at the secret of the healthiest and longest-living people in the so-called “Blue Zones”. We check out some important pieces of scientific evidence that clearly support certain dietary choices for our health. These dietary choices include a high intake of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and a low or no intake of red and processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages.

What will I learn in this lesson?

  • The influential lifestyle factors of the people who live the longest and healthiest lives (the inhabitants of the Blue Zones).
  • A closer look at the key components of a healthy diet.
  • Evidence surrounding the detrimental health impacts of consuming meat, animal products and added sugar.

Before moving on to the next lesson, we recommend that you watch the video and pass the quiz.

Note: In each video lesson, the key facts and learnings will be sent to your module cheat sheet, which will become available for PAN members after completing the final test.



Blue Zones information
https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/ (last access: 2021-05-25)

Study on the first discovered Blue Zone
Poulain, M et al. “Identification of a Geographic Area Characterized by Extreme Longevity in the Sardinia Island: The AKEA Study.” Experimental Gerontology 39, no. 9 (September 2004): 1423–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2004.06.016.

Determinants of health
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/determinants-of-health (last access: 2021-05-25)
https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Determinants-of-Health (last access: 2021-05-25)

The Blue Zone diet
https://www.bluezones.com/recipes/food-guidelines/ (last access: 2021-05-25)

Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses on the health effects of the intake of:

Whole grains/fiber:
Reynolds, A et al. “Carbohydrate Quality and Human Health: A Series of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses.” The Lancet 393, no. 10170 (February 2019): 434–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9.

Fruit and vegetables:
Aune, D et al. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Total Cancer and All-Cause Mortality—a Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies.” International Journal of Epidemiology 46, no. 3 (June 1, 2017): 1029–56. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyw319.

Red and processed meat:
Yip, CSC et al. “A Summary of Meat Intakes and Health Burdens.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72, no. 1 (January 2018): 18–29. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2017.117.

IARC categorization:
Domingo, JL and Martí N. “Carcinogenicity of Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat: A Review of Scientific News since the IARC Decision.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 105 (July 2017): 256–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2017.04.028.

Protein intake:
Mariotti F and Gardner CD. “Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets—A Review.” Nutrients 11, no. 11 (November 4, 2019): 2661. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112661.

Added sugar:
Malik, VS and HuFB. “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic Health: An Update of the Evidence.” Nutrients 11, no. 8 (August 8, 2019): 1840. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081840.

GBD study, factors behind ‘dietary risk’
Accessible via the GBD data visualization tool: https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/
with the settings: ‘single’, ‘risks by cause’, ‘dietary risks’, ‘level 3’, ‘global’, ‘2019’

Additional Attribution

Background music in video: https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

Tyne Daly photo in video: CC BY-SA 2.0 From Wash. D.C 1997 © copyright John Mathew Smith 2001

John Daly photo in video: mandj98, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lesson Content