What Does the Oldest Person in the World Eat?

Want to know the secret to a longer life? For the world’s oldest man, 123-year-old Carmelo Flores, it’s all about his diet: namely, lots of quinoa, mushrooms, and chewing coca leaves. Along with spending his life walking with animals (he’s a sheep and cattle herder), he credits the indigenous Andean diet with his amazingly long life.

In an interview with the Associated Press on his farm outside of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, Flores talked a lot about his diet and how it”s helped to shape his health. For instance, the old man eschews noodles and rice for barley and quinoa, eats mutton as his main meat source, and fills out his meals with homegrown, nutrient-packed ingredients like mushrooms, potatoes, Andean tubers, and beans.

The oldest person alive believes that he owes his health to his diet, but what makes quinoa, mushrooms, and coca leaves so beneficial?



Quinoa is somewhat controversial these days because its growing global popularity has caused prices to skyrocket where it’s actually grown (like Bolivia). But the awesome nutrition stats — complete protein, high-fiber, gluten-free, etc. — make it hard to pass up. Use it in place of rice, pasta, or couscous and top it with a delicious savory dish, like Vegan Chickpea and Spinach Tapas.


Healthy mushrooms

Other than being deliciously versatile and hearty, mushrooms boast a host of health benefits. Button and portobello mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and B vitamins, for example, and research suggests that oyster mushrooms might have cholesterol-lowering properties. [VegNews]

Coca Leaves

Coca leaves

Coca leaves (from the same plant from which cocaine is also derived) are said to alleviate altitude sickness, which is why they’re chewed on and used to make tea in mountainous areas like parts of Bolivia. They’re also linked to hunger suppression and increased energy. [Bolivia for 91 Days]

Other than a healthy traditional diet and frequent walking, Flores abstains from alcohol and stays close to home. He trumps the Guinness World Records’ current world’s oldest person, a woman named Misao Okawa, by eight years.