Family Credits Sweet Potatoes for Mother’s 114-Year Life

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Humans will never give up their quest to find the secret to a long life. Could it be the Mediterranean diet? Could it be drinking a glass of red wine every day? There will likely never be a definitive answer. Regardless, people will probably never stop dispensing their family wisdom about how to extend your lifespan.

Case in point: America’s oldest woman, Lessie Brown. She lived to be 114, before sadly passing away last week. Now, her family says that she lived so long because she stuck to one simple rule: eat a sweet potato every day.

Brown may have been on to something. After all, sweet potatoes are considered a superfood (as long as you don’t cover them in a layer of brown sugar and marshmallows). High in Vitamin A (which benefits your skin, vision, and immune system — all important to watch out for as you age), this orange tuber is also packed with calcium, potassium, fiber, and Vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are complex carbs. That’s good news because they help sustain your energy and after eating one, you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time. The American Diabetes Association also recommends that people eat sweet potatoes to help maintain healthy insulin levels.

In an interview on the occasion of her 109th birthday in 2013, Brown said that although her loved ones liked to insist that sweet potatoes were crucial to her longevity, she didn’t think the vegetables had anything to do with it. The devout churchgoer would only say that “God’s will” got her that far.

Even if sweet potatoes aren’t the sole reason Brown lived as long as she did, that doesn’t mean she was wrong to keep them in regular rotation on her dinner plate. Sweet potatoes are objectively healthy, and if you’re trying to beat her record as the oldest living person in America, there’s probably no harm in upping your sweet potato intake.