5 Favorite Foods of Famous Centenarians

What super-foods do the longest-lived among us swear by?

The answers are somewhat surprising:

  • French wine and fine chocolate: Still considered the oldest person to have ever lived, Jeanne Louise Calment died in 1997, at the age of 122. The story goes that, for most of her life, Calment ate about two pounds of chocolate every week and had a penchant for port wine and cigarettes well into her ninth decade of life. Despite engaging in a few less-than-healthy habits, Calment did enjoy an array of physical activities (including hunting, swimming and bicycling). She even managed to continue riding her bike as a 100-year-old.
  • Banana and pain-relievers: The current “World’s Oldest Living Man” is 112-year-old, Salustiano Sanchez Blazquez. Apparently not one for indulging in decadent vices, Blazquez attributes his centenarian status to a daily regimen of a single banana and six Anacin (an over-the-counter analgesic popular in the mid-1900s).
  • Sushi: Earlier this year, at age 115, Japanese super-centenarian, Misao Okawa was named “World’s Oldest Living Woman.” Her favorite dish: Mackerel sushi. The Japanese have held the distinction of being the most long-lived population in the world for many years. Current figures put the average life expectancy for a Japanese woman born in 2012 at 86.41 years.
  • Pork and beans, after a healthy breakfast of course: In 2011, the “World’s Oldest Living Woman” was a 114-year-old Brazilian woman named, Maria Gomes Valentim. Also known affectionately as “Grandma Quita,” Valentim represented Brazil’s first verifiable longevity claim, according to the Guinness World Records. Shortly after Valentim’s death, her granddaughter told the Associated Press that Grandma Quita was an avid eater of Brazil’s national dish feijoada, a stew made of pork, beef, beans and vegetables. She also enjoyed a ritual breakfast each morning of fruit, bread and coffee.
  • Bacon: She may not be the “World’s Oldest” anything (yet), but at 105 years of age, Pearl Cantrell says the key to her successful aging is eating bacon for breakfast. Cantrell and her love of cured meats was recently made public when the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile interrupted her 105th birthday festivities. She got to ride in the famous vehicular hot dog, and received the promise of a lifetime supply of bacon from Oscar Meyer representatives.

Orders of what we should eat, how much we should eat and when we should eat it are suggested in countless health articles. And the array of conflicting advice contained in these articles can, at times, be confusing.

Take coconut oil. For years, coconut oil was torn down as an unhealthy source of saturated fat. Now however, case studies and research analyses seem to indicate that this much-maligned fat might be beneficial for everything from skin care, to Alzheimer’s disease.

So what is the true secret to living a long, healthy life? It depends on who you ask. More accurately, it depends on who you are. Scientific investigations, such as the ongoing Okinawa Centenarian Study, point to an unknown algorithm of genetics and lifestyle habits.

Instead of asking our oldest comrades to share their secrets of a life long-lived, perhaps we should be asking them to offer their insights on a life well-lived.

The Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging
10 Things That Make You Feel Old
3 People Who Will Change the Way the World Views Aging
The Simple Diet Tweak That Can Keep Your Brain Healthy
How the World’s Oldest Person Spent Her Last Day
Get More Energy by Eating Smart

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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Magdalena J.
Magdalena C.about a year ago

Thank you!

Nancy Labadens
Past Member 2 years ago

Natural is always healthier!

Dale O.

I agree with Barbara D, MarilynBusy W and Julie D. Of course, people are individuals and what works for some won't necessarily work for others and certainly an optimistic outlook helps. (That being said there are some 'grumpwursts' who live to be 100!)

Mari' there are very few people who eat animals that are still alive, so of course they would be 'dead.' Some of us are omnivores and avoid factory farmed sources, but we still eat them.

Did I see...fine chocolate!

Koty Lapid
Koty Lapid2 years ago


Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim2 years ago

The secret of longevity is good nutrition.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo2 years ago

Thank you for the great post Aging Care.com!

Judy Apelis
Judy Apelis2 years ago

Thank you so much!

Julie D.
Julie D.2 years ago

Very interesting to see that none of these favorite foods seem to be particularly healthy, but fun to read about them. I think genetics and attitude have more to do with longevity than anything else. Fun article!

Tesni Bishop
.2 years ago


Cynthia F.
Cynthia F.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing, AgingCare.com!