Better the blessing of broccoli

By Simon Round, July 24, 2014

Groucho Marx once said: "I intend to live forever or die trying". Sadly, for him it was the latter, but his mantra seems to have been taken up by a huge number of people, who are attempting to live forever but who lack his sense of irony.

There are people who exercise fanatically in a desperate attempt to stave off old age; there are many more who pop supplements and there is even a weird cult which has decided that the way to achieve near-immortality is to restrict their calorie intake for the rest of their lives. This is on the basis of research in which underfed mice lived much longer than a control group of rodents (although, for all we know, the skinny ones could have been begging to be put out of their misery).

And we have all heard of the celebrities who eat macrobiotically or cram their shopping baskets with so-called superfoods like wheatgrass, goji berries, blueberries and wild salmon fillets in the hope that they will prolong their existence, despite absolutely no proof to support this claim.

Now Which? magazine has come up with a very sensible report. It says that if you absolutely must treat your body like a temple, you can do it much cheaper by buying everyday ingredients. Substitute broccoli for expensive wheatgrass and you get practically the same nutritional benefits for a fraction of the price, with the added extra advantage that broccoli doesn't taste like grass.

You can buy kiwi fruit instead of blueberries, replace the goji berries with spinach. And you will benefit from less financial stress, which as we know can be a killer.

There is no healthier fish than the herring

But what the report failed to mention was that, if you make your life more Jewish, you automatically build in proven health advantages. There is no healthier fish than the heimishe herring - indeed, a few years ago, a Dutch woman, who was for a time the oldest in the world, attributed her longevity to daily herring consumption.

And if you happen to combine your fish with chrein you will have stumbled across another thrifty superfood. Beetroot can lower blood pressure and can also increase athletic endurance on your Shabbat walk.

Then there is the massive importance of being a part of a supportive community. The residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa are the world's longest lived and at least part of this longevity has been put down to the way that the elderly are both revered and incorporated into the community.

Religious observance has also been shown to be a factor in longevity (although we don't know whether that benefit comes from the belief in God or God Himself). Plus, if you are frum, are covered from head to toe and wear a hat, you are much less likely to contract skin cancer.

So all you need to do is go to shul regularly, eat the foods your great-grandparents ate and get a bit of exercise and you too will live forever...

Last updated: 1:00pm, July 24 2014