3 Foods the World's Oldest Person Ate Every Day
Have you ever seen an older person so full of life and youthful energy that you've thought to yourself, "what's their secret?" That's the exact question Eden's Gate asked themselves when they decided to research the world's oldest people to learn more about the lifestyle choices that helped them live record-breaking long lives.
Eden's Gate is a UK-based company that was founded with the intention of making CBD products that can improve people's lives by helping them feel happier and full of hope. Because of their love of helping people live healthier lives, they set out to research the secrets behind the world's longest-living people.
In particular, they researched six people who lived to be above the age of 100. They discovered that things like diet, movement, stress levels, and socioeconomic status played a role in how long these record-breakers lived.
The oldest person on this list and in recorded history was France-native Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to be 122 years old and has been the only person to live past 120. Calment was quite the mystery when she was alive and has remained that way even after her death in 1997.
So why is her life so mysterious? According to a theory posed by researchers in Moscow, Calment may have actually died at a much earlier age than what was previously believed. No one can be certain, so the mystery remains. But before she passed, when asked about her secrets to longevity, she said it involved three foods:
In an article written by All That's Interesting, they told the story of how Calment would eat her meals and then treat herself to a hefty amount of chocolate until she reached 116 years old.
While some may say that's crazy, others will say it's genius. A study published in the Antioxidants & Redox Signaling Journal showed that chocolate not only is beneficial for your heart, but it can also help fight cancers and infectious diseases because of its immunomodulating properties which stimulate and/or suppress the immune system. The study also showed metabolic and psychological benefits in the candy as well.
Furthermore, dark chocolate has been found to contain powerful antioxidants that can contribute to better overall health when consumed in moderation. These antioxidants may help to reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and have better brain function thanks to their flavonoids—all things that set you up for a healthier, longer life.
It's important to note, however, that not all types of chocolate are created equal. Dark chocolate may be full of antioxidants, but consuming heavily-processed, sugar-heavy milk or white chocolate on a regular basis may have more detrimental effects on your health. In fact, too much added sugar can increase inflammation, blood sugar, and blood pressure, and even increase your risk of heart disease.
This isn't to say that you can't enjoy your favorite sugary chocolates when you have a craving, but it may be helpful to notice which ones may be healthier than others.
All that to say, while Calment ate her chocolate more than on occasion, her sweet treat seemed to do a lot of wonders.
Many centenarians happen to live in the Blue Zones, which are regions of the world with the highest concentrations of people over 100 years old. The Blue Zones concept is about finding the places around the world where people live the longest and healthiest, as well as taking note of their diets. While Calment didn't reside in one of the locations, what she ate consisted of some of the Blue Zone foods, including olive oil.
According to the American Heart Association, olive oil has a monounsaturated fat content that provides you with the antioxidant vitamin E, something that "most Americans need more of."
A drizzle here and there may also help your blood by reducing bad cholesterol levels, and doing so can lead to a lower heart disease risk. Plus, it can also help maintain your body's cells thanks to its nutrients. Extra virgin olive oil has even been found to help manage weight, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and help to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, all things that can help you live longer.
If that hasn't convinced you yet, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that consuming high amounts of olive oil and using it instead of butter, margarine, or mayonnaise is linked to a longer life. In the report, researchers took two Harvard studies that used more than 92,000 healthy men and women. These people reported details about their health and diet every two years. After a 20-year period, it was concluded that those who had a little more than half a tablespoon per day of olive oil had a lower death risk "of total and cause-specific mortality" versus those who hardly consumed it.
Port wine is a sweet red wine (which is no surprise to be on this list given Calment's sweet tooth).
Enjoying this particular alcoholic beverage is part of what is known as the Mediterranean diet—an eating and drinking lifestyle based on the traditional cuisines of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Along with plant-based foods, healthy fats, and olive oil (one of the foods in Calment's diet), red wine is a part of that mold.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet was discovered in the '50s when there was a realization that heart disease was not as severe in Mediterranean countries as it was in the United States. From that point on, studies have proven again and again that this particular diet helped to prevent heart disease and other severities like types of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cognitive decline.
When it comes to red wine specifically, the drink has been linked to longevity if consumed in moderation. Sipping on a glass helps to "increase the expression of key-longevity genes and improve metabolic health in humans," according to the Antioxidants (Basel) Journal.
The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health also suggests that while more studies need to be done, light wine intake is associated with a five-year longer life expectancy. Meanwhile, a small amount of alcohol can help to lower cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk long-term, as well as increase life expectancy.
To keep the party going, red wine is also full of antioxidants, which were found to have been linked to reduced mortality from certain cancers as well as vascular diseases, as specified by the British Journal of Nutrition.
Another key element to Calment's long life
Low-stress levels could have likely also been a factor. Calment had the privilege of living a wealthy, low-stress lifestyle for the entire duration of her 122 years. She never worked a full-time job, so you could easily say her stress levels were much lower than the average human being's. Because she didn't have to work much, she could enjoy active hobbies on a consistent basis like tennis, swimming, playing the piano, and biking.
But regardless of what you believe about the "oldest person in the world," we can still take away some valuable lessons. Eat your chocolate, drink your wine, use olive oil, and treat yourself to hobbies you love.
A previous version of this article ran on March 28, 2022, and has since been updated to include more information about Calment's favorite foods and the research that supports their link to longevity.