Longevity Secrets from a 97 year old man and his 80 year old wife (Crete)

By Koula Barydakis
Updated August 31, 2021

What are the secrets to a long life?

They are still in love and have the energy of any active middle-aged couple. The difference is that Giannis Maragoudakis is 97 and his wife Katerina is 80. They live on the Mediterranean island of Crete and have a lot of sage advice for us younguns.

When Giannis was asked what the secret to a long life was, he replied “exercising 15-20 minutes every morning, olive oil, red wine, living the day the way it comes, and feeling good with my loved ones, my wife, kids, and grandkids.” Katerina chimed in that the secret to long life was “feeling good about yourself and your family and eating a balanced diet.” The diet of Crete, what Giannis and Katerina have been eating their entire lives, is considered one of the healthiest in the world.

Katerina picks herbs and wild greens (known as horta) as well as gardening on most days. Giannis and Katerina, like most people in the Mediterranean, love and celebrate their food. It is mostly a plant-based diet. They eat wild edible greens 4 to 5 times a week, beans or nuts and seeds on most days, as well as freshly baked bread daily. Giannis and Katerina eat meat about once every 10 days and occasionally eat chicken or fish. Amazingly, Katerina says she eats 1 cup of olive oil every day! This, of course, is the extra virgin olive oil that contains strong anti-inflammatory properties. Giannis told us that he ate a cup of olive oil at every meal! Besides, the wild greens, Giannis and Katerina eat lots of salads and cooked fresh veggies (also drenched in extra virgin olive oil). Katerina no longer drinks wine, but Giannis has some every day.

Giannis and Katerina have been married for over 60 years. They have an occasional spat, but still declare their love for each other. Giannis made his living as a farmer and provided the food for their family. Now he writes poetry and tells stories to others in the village. Katerina takes care of the house and is an incredible cook. They love to travel, but what makes Giannis and Katerina the happiest is spending time with each other, their families, and friends.

They are the true representation of Mediterranean lifestyle.


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