“Lola” Francisca Susano, purported to have been the oldest person in the world, has died at the age of 124. Susano’s family ascribed her longevity, in part, to a vegetable-rich diet.
The City Government of Kabankalan, Philippines, in Negros Occidental, where Susano lived, announced her passing online.
“It is with sadness in our heart when we received the news that our beloved Lola Francisca Susano passed away early this Monday evening November 22,” the post reads, adding that she “will always remain as our inspiration and pride.”
Susano was born on September 11, 1897, according to CNN Philippines, and was said to be the last living person born in the 19th century. She had 14 children, one of whom is also a centenarian at 101 years old. In her free time, she liked to sing and play the harmonica.
The publication added that in September this year, Guinness World Records was still in the process of verifying the documentation required to grant Susano the official title of world’s oldest person.
Diet and longevity
A “diet of fresh vegetables and fruits” was Susano’s “secret to longevity,” Business Mirror reports. And specifically, produce that her family grew themselves without using pesticides.
The supercentenarian especially enjoyed sweet potato, okra, pumpkin, and eggplant, as well as oatmeal and laswa, which is a boiled vegetable soup. She didn’t eat pork, and consumed little amounts of other meat, the Metro reports.
She also abstained from alcohol.
Susano’s granddaughter Merlene Susano told GMA 7’s Amazing Earth: “Everything Grandma eats is really life-prolonging.”
It’s not the first time a link between diet and longevity has been made. A study published in July last year found that getting just three percent more of one’s total calories from plant protein lowers risk of premature death by five percent.
Separate research found that changing three percent of calorie intake from animal protein to plant-based sources was attached to a 10 percent decrease in death from any cause, for both women and men.
In the study, swapping out eggs and red meat in favor of plant proteins lowered death risk for women and men by 21 and 24 percent respectively.
.The impact on diet and years lived has been explored for decades now. Research from 2001 found that vegetarian men in the US tended to live, on average, for 10 years longer than meat-eating men. For women, ditching meat appeared to add another six years to their lives.