In Acciaroli, Italy, a remote village of only a few thousand people — if that many — there’s a staggering number of centenarians — 300 — and experts don’t think it’s a coincidence. That’s why researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Rome, La Sapienza are teaming up to study them.
The coastal city is located south of Naples, next to the Tyrrhenian Sea, where locals often get around on foot and enjoy a Mediterranean Diet that relies heavily on the herb rosemary. Rosemary is thought to improve memory, and to help with blood circulation and the nervous system. The Mediterranean Diet as a whole is rich in fruits, grains, vegetables, and seafood.
“The goal of this long-term study is to find out why this group of 300 is living so long by conducting a full genetic analysis and examining lifestyle behaviors, like diet and exercise,” researcher Alan Meisel of UCSD said in a statement.
What’s of particular interest is that the seniors have markedly low rates of heart disease and Alzheimer’s despite their advancing years.
The participants will be studied for the next six months, giving blood samples, taking questionnaires and having their cognitive function measured.
“This project will not only help to unlock some of the secrets of healthy aging, but will build closer ties with researchers across the globe, which will lead to more science and improved clinical care in our aging population,” Salvatore DiSomma of the University of Rome, La Sapienza said.
When it comes to long life, the Italian island of Sardinia is already considered a “Blue Zone,” or a place where a disproportionate number of people live to be 100. Sardinians are also said to follow a Mediterranean Diet and do plenty of walking every day.
Guess there’s just something about Italy.