While many people jump to denounce oatmeal for being tasteless and lumpy, if you’re interested in living for a long time you make want to reconsider it. The world’s oldest family has recently been inducted into the Guinness World Records, and they credit their longevity and vitality to oatmeal. Ranging in age from 72 to 93, the 13 Donnelly siblings live in Ireland, and have a combined age of 1,075 years and 68 days. They attribute their health to a twice-daily bowl of oatmeal, a practice encouraged by their father.
"The key is that you need to get your oats at night," Leo Donnelly, 72, the youngest of the Donnelly siblings, told The Telegraph. "Porridge at around 10pm, then porridge again for breakfast at 7am. Cooked oats, milk, perhaps a spot of jam on top."
Indeed, the facts can’t be disputed: The Donnelly siblings are living very long lives, and they eat a lot of oatmeal. However, they also grew up on a farm in the Irish countryside, resulting in nutrient-rich diets of locally sourced produce, dairy, and meat. It’s also worthwhile to point out specifically that because the Donnelly family made the majority of their own food—including rolling their own oats and curing bacon made from the family pigs they slaughtered once a year—they rarely consumed mass-produced, processed items. A Leo said, "Our diet has never been from processed [or] polluted foods. The farm oats in our porridge were always local and of the finest quality."
While the Donnelly family diet ultimately points to the benefits of a diet rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, there are a lot of theories on how food lengthens lifespan. Ranging from raw eggs to bacon to rice porridge and miso soup, the diets of the world’s oldest people couldn’t be more different, which begs the question that perhaps a long life has more to do with genetics than diet alone.
Still, the Donnellys are adamant that oats are the key to success: “People thought it was unusual,” Leo Donnelly said. “But now the living proof is there for all to see."