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115-Year-Old Woman Reveals the Secret of Her Longevity Diet

This one food keeps her "strong," she says.

If you're looking for the keys to longevity, who better to ask than a centenarian herself? Or better still—someone who's beaten the odds even further by living to 115 years old? Helena Pereira dos Santos, a Brazilian woman who celebrated that milestone this December, credits eating one food in particular for her ongoing health and longevity—and it turns out her claim is backed by ample science.

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Dos Santos' family says that at 115, she still enjoys a surprisingly high quality of life, remaining active and somewhat independent. Though she retired many years ago, she still spends time on her hobbies—mending clothes and making rag dolls. She goes for walks and can still do her own shopping with her granddaughter's help.

But dos Santos says that eating beans—and lots of them—has been the secret behind her long life. She recently shared with Daily Mail that a bean-rich diet keeps her "strong."

Mounting research suggests that eating legumes, including beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas, can have a profound impact on longevity. In fact, a 2004 study determined that people could reduce their risk of mortality by eight percent for every 20 grams of beans or legumes they ate daily.

Dan Buettner, an author and entrepreneur known for reporting on "blue zones," places where people disproportionately live to and past 100 years, confirms that he's seen this in action around the world. "In every blue zone I have visited, beans and other legumes were—and still are—a major component of the daily diet," he told CNN.

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In addition to eating beans or legumes, Beuttner says there are a handful of other foods that can help you live to 100. In fact, the organization Blue Zones, founded by Beuttner and born out of his research, has created a food guide to help people live longer lives.

First, the guidelines suggest eating a largely plant-based diet, eliminating almost all sources of meat besides a small amount of fish. Next, focus on single-ingredient, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, drastically minimizing your intake of processed foods. Drink lots of water, snack on nuts, and slash your sugar intake while also minimizing eggs and dairy.

Though she credits her diet for much of her good health, Dos Santos notes that there are other factors that she believes have helped. In particular, she told Daily Mail that sleeping well, exercising, and finding joyful moments were also crucial to her longevity. Of course, genetics and good luck are likely also at play.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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