Eating mostly unprocessed, unrefined, and nutrient-dense foods is a globally-recognized way to bolster better health and vibrant vitality. As someone who has spent most of her life in Costa Rica, I can attest that in this corner of the world, eating a wholesome, simple diet is at the heart of the culture.

Home to some of the world’s longest-living people, this tropical nation is known for its Pura Vida lifestyle (“pure life” in Spanish). It’s also one of the five original Blue Zones—regions where people live the longest and healthiest—pinpointed by New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner

In The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes To Live To 100, Buettner explains how foods have enabled populations to evade chronic disease and sustain optimal wellness. And for centenarians (people who live into their 80s and frequently into their 90s and 100s) in Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, it all starts with choosing real, nourishing foods. 

Although a diet specific to Costa Rican centenarians varies from other Blue Zones areas across the globe, these well-aged dwellers share some lifestyle and food commonalities that revolve around savoring the simple joys of life. Here’s a closer look at what Nicoya Peninsula residents eat to lead a long, healthy life: