Skip to content

The 7 Foods My 96-Year-Old Nana Always Eats for a Long Life

She may be tiny, but her food choices keep her mighty.

In the news, we've been hearing a lot about how the world's oldest people have lived to be in their late nineties or early one-hundreds thanks to their diet and lifestyle. You even hear about the Queen of England or popular celebrities and how they mastered the inevitable aging process. I am lucky to say that my grandma, or as I call her, Nana, has reached that, "how does she do it" age—and I'm here to spill the beans.

Along with a light, positive attitude and visits from her favorite granddaughter, my Nana Pasqualina eats foods that not only give her health benefits, but foods she actually enjoys. Keep reading to see what a 4-foot, 7-inch, 96- year-old Italian woman eats throughout a normal day in her life. For more on longevity, check out The 5 Best Eating Habits to Live Longer, New Study Reveals.

Lupini beans

lupini beans

You've heard the saying, "beans, beans they're good for your heart." Well, have you heard of lupini beans?

A superfood, these beans are the yellow legume seeds of the Lupinus (Lupine) plant. They are in the same food family as chickpeas and lentils, and have been known as a popular snack across the Mediterranean, Middle-East and Australia.

Lupini beans are considered a "cardioprotective" food, meaning that they can help with the health of your heart as well as your stomach. They are also high in fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease later in life.

The fiber, protein, and slowly digested carbohydrates that these beans contain have been shown to aid in fullness, therefore helping with weight loss as well.


Box of Jell-O

Depending on the day, Nana Pasqualina will eat either regular or sugar-free Jell-O as a snack, allowing her to get some sweetness added to her day. The good thing about Jell-O cups is that they are controlled portions, so she will not have more than one.

However, Jell-O is made mostly of gelatin, which is actually high in protein. For example, 100 grams of dry gelatin powder contain more than 85 grams of protein, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture.

According to Medical News Today, gelatin also can be helpful for digestion, bone strength, managing blood sugar, skin care and hair health. No wonder why my Nana looks so flawless!

Tuna salad

tuna salad sandwich

The omega-3s that you find in tuna is a source of polyunsaturated fat that can give your body's healthy boost. Those polyunsaturated fats can help with your eye health and brain health. Your body may also feel energized throughout the entire day. This is because omega-3s contain eicosanoids—molecules that help with the structure and function of your body's cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine health.

To further the benefits of tuna, the polyunsaturated fat of the omega-3s help with digestion and allow your body to feel full, all while maintaining that energy. These are an important part of your diet, so it's no wonder that my Nana eats tuna on the regular.


penne pasta with chicken and tomatoes

Nana was born and raised in the small town of Calabria, Italy. With that being said, there's no way you're getting pasta out of her diet.

Pasta is a part of the Mediterranean diet, which helps aid in weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control.

According to U.S News & World Report, pasta also adds beneficial nutrients to the plate such as carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamin B, and iron. Plus, it's such a versatile food. This means you can really throw anything into a pasta dish, including protein to protein and produce to get even more benefits.

Rye bread

Sliced Rye Bread

Nana Pasqualina does not steer clear when it comes to carbs and we are here for it! Along with her pasta intake, she also enjoys a slice of rye bread.

Rye bread has been linked to improvements in your gut microbiome, therefore leading to better metabolic health. The bread contains plasma butyrate – a short-chain fatty acid made inside the intestine from foods rich in fiber.

Butyrate can also help protect you from inflammation and oxidative damage, as well as have potential benefits for your intestine. Further evidence also suggests that it could help protect you from colorectal cancer.

Cranberry juice

Cranberry Juice

Nana loves to sip on some cranberry juice throughout the day, and the positive effects have shown themselves.

For starters, cranberry juice is great for urinary health, especially in women. It can also help to prevent stomach ulcers and possibly some gastric cancers.

This tart drink contains Proanthocyanidins (PACs)—a class of polyphenols found in many plants—as well as some other antioxidants. These ingredients have been shown to help to lower blood pressure, raise HDL "good" cholesterol to lower inflammation in blood vessels, and decrease stiffness in vessels in those with heart disease.

Bacon and egg sandwich

Bacon and Egg Sandwich

At 96, you can't help but want to treat yourself to something comforting and delicious every now and then. Put some crispy bacon and a fried egg onto a soft roll, and you've got yourself a masterpiece.

It's not all bad for you, either. Bacon can be high in protein, and also contains vitamin B complex nutrients. These nutrients help to prevent infections and support or promote cell health. Vitamin B also aids in transporting oxygen and energy-containing nutrients around the body.

Although a fried egg may not be the optimal choice to reap all of an egg's nutrients, it's tasty, and you can still benefit from eating it. Eggs help you feel energized, boost your immune system, improve cognitive health, and reduce inflammation…all great factors for a 96-year-old, or anyone looking to maintain a long and healthy life.

The #1 Breakfast Food The World's Oldest Woman Ate Every Day

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla