It’s something we’ve been told time and time again: If you want to live a long life, make sure that you eat a healthy diet. But judging by the diets of some very, very old people, that may not necessarily be the secret to longevity. We tracked down the self-reported favorite foods and daily diets of 15 of the oldest people who ever lived, and they range from reasonable to bizarre to downright hilarious.
Adele Dunlap, who was the oldest American when she passed away in February at age 114, stuck to a diet of mostly oatmeal, according to USA Today. But she historically ate basically whatever she wanted, and enjoyed her martinis.
The current oldest American, 111-year-old Agnes Fenton, certainly seems like one sassy lady based on her diet: She told NJ.com that up until recently she had three Miller High Lifes and a glass of Johnnie Walker daily, and that she enjoyed grits, buttered toast, orange juice, bacon, and sausage for breakfast. As for her favorite foods, those include green beans, chicken wings, and sweet potatoes.
Britain’s Clarke sisters — 105, 98, 98, and 93, respectively — are the world’s oldest siblings, and admitted to the Daily Mail that they “enjoy the odd tipple and always have a glass of wine whenever we meet up for a bit of a do.” They also reportedly swear by bland, spiceless British food like fried eggs and toast.
Dharam Pal Singh, who claims to be 119 but is most likely not nearly that old, nevertheless is in incredibly good shape for whatever his advanced age is, and is even a marathon runner. The New York Times reported that he claims his secret is “cows’ milk, herbal chutney and seasonal fruit that ripened in sunshine.” (Singh also reportedly “avoided butter, fried food, sugar, tobacco, alcohol, even tea and coffee.”)
Emma Morano was famously the last living person who saw the 1800s, and was the world’s oldest person when she passed away at 117 earlier this year. She ate two raw eggs every day as a way to fend off anemia — advice she got from her doctor back in 1919 — as well as bananas and ladyfinger cookies, but told the Independent that “I do not eat much because I have no teeth.” She also swore off meat because she’d heard that it causes cancer.
Mendoza, who passed away at 117 in 2005, spent her entire life in a small Peruvian village in the Andes, and according to the Daily Mail, she told a government official, “My secret to longevity is a natural diet: I always ate potatoes, goat meat, sheep milk, goat cheese and beans.” Everything she cooked came from her garden, and she never had soda.
On record as the oldest person who ever lived, Jeanne Calment lived to the ripe old age of 122, passing away in 1997. The Frenchwoman “used to eat more than two pounds of chocolate per week,” according to her obituary, and she also smoked and enjoyed a Sunday glass of port until age 120.
Gallan, who lived to be 109 before passing away in 2015, credited her long life to eating a warm bowl of porridge every morning. The Scot also told the Daily Mail, “My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth.”
Born in 1898, Misao Okawa was the world’s oldest person when she died in 2015. She credited her long life to getting eight hours of sleep per night and eating plenty of sushi, especially her favorite, mackerel. According to Japan Times, she also loved ramen noodles and beef stew, as well as hashed beef and rice.
The last American to have been born before 1900, Susannah Mushatt Jones passed away in May 2016 at age 116. According to her obituary, she enjoyed a daily breakfast of bacon, eggs, and grits until just a few weeks before her death.
Täo Porchon-Lynch is “only” 98, but she’s also a yoga master, and still teaches yoga to this day. “I love vegetables and fruit,” the former model and MGM actress told HuffPo. “I’m a vegetarian, but I do like to eat lobster and shrimp occasionally. I also like a glass of wine with my food. I don’t like to drink alone. Wine is good for the blood. I don’t eat for the sake of eating. No one should eat huge quantities of food. Be in touch with nature and the fruits of life. That will keep us healthy.”
So who is the current oldest-living person? That would be Violet Mosses Brown, who was born in Jamaica in March 1900. She told the Jamaica Observer that she enjoys fish, mutton, cow feet, and locally grown produce like mangoes, oranges, sweet potatoes, and breadfruit. She also doesn’t drink, telling another Jamaican paper that she avoids “rum and dem tings.”
113-year-old Polish-born Yisrael Kristal is the oldest-living man on earth as well as the oldest-living Holocaust survivor. His daughter told The New York Times that he eats to live instead of lives to eat, and that “he enjoys daily helpings of pickled herring and, as a younger man in his 80s, had a taste for wine and beer.”