Village where one in 10 residents live to be 100 says the recipe for success is ‘only eating fresh stuff’ (and a dash of rampant sex)
A village in Italy where more than one in 10 residents reach 100 years old has revealed the secret to their longevity – by ‘only eating healthy stuff’.
Scientists have spent the last six months researching why residents living in Acciaroli, a tiny village on the west coast of Italy – 90 miles south of Naples – live for so long.
Experts have commented on their healthy diet and added that the sexual activity with the elderly living in the village ‘appears to be rampant’.
And as a result, locals also seem to be largely immune from heart disease, dementia and other conditions associated with ageing in the rest of the Western world.
More than one in 10 – 81 at the mayor’s last count – of the village’s population of 700 has passed the century mark.
Local Antonio Vassalo, 100, referred to the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet based on olive oil, vegetables, fish and a fresh fruit.
He said: ‘We only eat healthy stuff.’
His wife Amina, 93, added: ‘We eat a lot of fish, fresh produce from the countryside that we grow ourselves. We have our own rabbits, our chickens. Only local products. And olive oil: we consume what we produce.’
Experts from Rome’s Sapienza University and the San Diego School of Medicine will unveil their findings at a conference in the village today.
Acciaroli is part of the Cilento coast, a largely industry-free area of outstanding natural beauty that now has national park protected status.
Alan S. Maisel, the San Diego cardiologist heading up the project, said the explanation for the longevity and sprightliness could lie in any number of factors. ‘Is there something in their genes that may, along with something that they do make them live longer and healthy?’ he says. ‘They eat rosemary almost every day, and they grow it – maybe this does something that helps. We know that rosemary improves brain function.
‘They are also all physically active. Whether it is fishing, walking or gardening, everyone does something every day.’
Their study focused on 80 elderly people including 25 centenarians.
He said: ‘What we would like to create is a sort of clinical scoresheet, a tool that says that someone who wants to live well for a long time should have a certain type of diet, a certain level of physical activity, a certain type of social life and a certain way of thinking.’
Maisel said Acciaroli was unusual in that the numbers of very old people were split evenly between men and women.
He added: ‘Usually a significantly higher number of women live longer than men.’
And there could be another very important ingredient in the recipe for a long and happy life.
He added: ‘Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant. Maybe living long has something to do with that, it’s probably the good air and the joie de vivre.’