JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Little need to chew over secret to long life

Date

Tom Kington

Eat for longevity ... minestrone soup.

Eat for longevity ... minestrone soup. Photo: Marina Oliphant

ROME: Doctors, dietitians and divines have long sought to identify the secret of a long life. The answer? Minestrone soup, according to nine siblings from Sardinia who have been recognised as the world's oldest in terms of combined age.

The oldest member of the Melis family, Consolata, was turning 105 yesterday, while the youngest of her siblings, Mafalda, is 78.

''To have such a large number of living siblings with an average age of more than 90 years is incredibly rare,'' the editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, Craig Glenday, said on Tuesday of the Melises, who hail from Perdasdefogu in the mountainous Ogliastra province.

<em>Illustration: Cathy Wilcox</em>

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

''We believe Ogliastra contains the highest number of centenarians per capita in the world.''

Scientists have tried to work out what makes Sardinians live so long - 371 are over the age of 100, or 22 in every 100,000 - and credit genetic heritage, a frugal Mediterranean diet and a hardy lifestyle.

''We eat real food, meaning lots of minestrone and little meat, and we are always working,'' said Alfonso Melis, 89, who narrowly escaped being captured by German soldiers in World War II.

''Every free moment I have, I am down at my vineyard or at the allotment where I grow beans, aubergines, peppers and potatoes,'' he said.

''You just keep working and you eat minestrone, beans and potatoes,'' added his older sister Claudia, 99.

Consolata, who has had 14 children, nine of whom are still alive, plus 24 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, still cooks and feeds her goats.

''My grandchildren have washing machines, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, and when I hear them say, 'I am stressed', I don't understand,'' she told Corriere della Sera.

Guardian News & Media

40 comments

  • Maybe there's something to this. My European (German) mother cooks a great minestrone and has always eaten healthy food and been fit and exercised a lot all her life. She will be 77 in a couple of months and can still climb up on her roof to clean out her gutters of leaves and does heaps of other gardening jobs almost every day as well.

    Commenter
    MO4
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 12:19PM
    • Why is German life expectancy low for an advanced economy, then?

      Commenter
      Sid
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 12:48PM
    • @ Sid:

      Maybe Germans in general work too hard and stress too much. However, my German grandmother is still going strong at nearly 97 and walks up and down a flight of stairs every day. Genetic luck?

      Commenter
      MO4
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:27PM
    • Advanced economy means full of stress in the country like German, Japan and..... US maybe. Japanese diet is based on seafood while German's is not. That's why, I reckon.
      I don't know much about German daily life out there, but in Japan people are stressed out so much in daily life. Living closely with neighbors in small areas worrying about the noise they'd make/hear. So if they haven't eaten much seafood they would've been the victim of 'advanced economy'. But in Italy, it sounds good despite of the world economy's uncertainty.
      Yep, I probably change the ingredients of minestrone slightly everyday to satisfy my appetite keep going and refreshing myself.

      Commenter
      longevity
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:58PM
    • It's German / Prussian DNA. My mum when she was 80 was still climbing onto the roof to do the gutters. Walked a couple of Km's along the beach (2 replacement hips) every other day. Preferred a fight to a feed. Her secret.... keep the food as natural as possible, lots of fruit and veg.... and lots of soup.... pea, potato, bean, chicken etc.

      Commenter
      costa parki mik
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 2:29PM
    • I think the good longevity statistics for German minestrone munchers are dragged down by the bad ones for the bratwurst guzzlers.

      Commenter
      Bob
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 5:38PM
    • A very commonly eaten food in Germany is sausage. Bratwurst, knackwurst, etc etc. It's extremely unhealthy stuff - full of nitrites. I reckon a regular intake of processed, nitrite-laden food, combined with potato cakes and a smattering of sour-kraut would definitely influence average life-span.

      Commenter
      SausageSizzle
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 7:23PM
  • So where do we get their soup recipe?! :)

    Commenter
    Ian
    Location
    Melb
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 12:24PM
    • yes especially the goat soup recipe..

      Commenter
      Goatman
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:01PM
    • Ask an Italian or German woman and she'll be more than happy to give you the recipe; failing that, experiment yourself. Whatever you do, don't use packaged "broth" as a base.

      Commenter
      rrr
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:12PM

More comments

Comments are now closed
Featured advertisers

Horoscopes

Capricorn horoscope

Trust others to think for themselves. Don't be snobbish about what seems obvious. Everyone learns at their own pace, including you.

...find out more here