As we age, we’re always looking for the secrets to living a long life and slowing down the aging process. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important part of that; and you can do so by taking supplements, getting enough exercise, and watching how much you eat. Another key to a long life is to just be happy and enjoy yourself.
That’s what Jeanne Calment, once the world’s oldest woman and “oldest person ever,” did until she passed at the age of 122. Her secret? Aside from a fairly active lifestyle, Calment owes her long life to her diet, which included eating nearly two pounds of chocolate per week.
An article written by All That’s Interesting explains that Calment would finish all meals with a dessert up until she was 116, which included usually eating a heavy amount of chocolate. Although her eating routine ended at the age of 116, she was still eating sweets until she passed away.
According to research done by the Antioxidants & Redox Signaling Journal, chocolate contains plenty of health benefits that opt for it being more than just a sweet, sugary treat.
While it is demonstrated that chocolate is most helpful for cardiovascular benefits, the research shows the immunomodulating–substance that stimulates or suppresses the immune system—effects of chocolate hint at potential benefits in both infectious disease and cancer, as well as metabolic and psychological benefits.
Research to date also suggests that the benefits of moderate cocoa or dark chocolate consumption likely outweigh the risks. This is mainly due to the cocoa that is found in chocolate, which contains more phenolic antioxidants—a compound that reacts with a variety of free radicals—than most foods.
As for the world’s oldest woman, the chocolate truly seemed to do her wonders. All That’s Interesting states that along with her chocolate indulgences, she had a routine of waking up at 6:45 a.m. and starting her day with prayer. Afterward, she’d sit in her armchair and do gymnastics such as arm and leg exercises as well as finger flexing. She’d then shower without the help of her caretakers, and finish getting ready by dousing her body in olive oil.
She lived alone until she was 109, when she then moved to a nursing home. During her time there, she participated in several supercentenarian studies—studies done for people who have reached the age of 110 years.
During those studies, doctors noticed that Calment moved faster, had better mental capabilities, and was generally healthier than people who were sometimes 10, even 20, years younger than her. At the time of her passing, Jeanne Calment was 4’6, weighed 88 pounds, and was in relatively good health for her age, aside from nearly full blindness.
For more about living a long, happy life, check out Longevity Secrets of the Oldest People in the World.