JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

News Squib : A miracle herb for aging well ? Seriously?


It’s Squib Saturday. Time to share the best, most interesting (or most entertaining, or most outrageous) tidbit of information I’ve gleaned from all the stuff I’ve read –or done– this week. Today: Rosemary with Anchovies, Anyone? 


After you reach a certain age, it’s always a relief to find that you’ve made it to a new year. Then, immediately comes the thought: Will I still be here for the next one? And, on its heels, the more important question: What shape will I be in? Will my knees be my own? Will I still have my memory? Will I still be able to pout and look insulted when the airport security guy asks me if all my parts are my own –or will medical hardware holding knees and hips together set off the metal detectors?

 Healthy Aging

For me and millions of other baby boomers, healthy aging has become an obsession. So, I’m a little surprised that supermarket shelves are not groaning under the weight of foodstuffs enhanced with rosemary. Yes, I’ve spotted “handmade” Rosemary crackers on a shelf at my local Publix, and there was a box of Rosemary and Olive Oil Baked Herb crackers tucked in the holiday gift basket recently sent by my stepson, Sean and his wife Kelly — which I’ll read to mean that they wish me a long and healthy life, thank you.

But, considering that researchers recently zeroed in on rosemary as a miracle herb, the processed food manufacturing giants seem to be falling down on their job of jumping on any fad or trend that promises to keep consumers thin, heart-healthy and living forever.

Maybe they just haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on in Acciaroli, a village on the Mediterranean coast, south of Pompeii where one-third of its 1,000 residents are 100 years old, and apparently in phenomenal shape. The residents have virtually no eye cataracts, or bone fractures. The have mostly excellent heart health and a low incidence of Alzheimer’s. Approximately 20 per cent of the centenarians are in fact 110 years old.

Joint Study

That’s why a team of doctors and scientists from university medical schools in Rome and San Diego have descended on the village to conduct a joint study of every aspect of the residents’ lives. They are taking blood samples, tracking genealogy and monitoring the residents’ diets and daily activity. Initial observations noted that aside from adhering to the ubiquituous Mediterranean diet with its emphasis on locally-produced olive oil, vegetables, fruits, fish and “slugs” of red and white wine, the residents eat anchovies (sometimes deep-fried) and rosemary at every meal, and the herb appears in almost everything they cook.

Herb, No Exercise

The rosemary is locally grown by the residents and is apparently a pungent variety which is said to smell ten times more strongly than a normal brand. Everyone grows the herb in their gardens,  and they use it as garnish, infused in olive oil, and in sauces. Dr. Alan Maisel, one of the cardiologists on the U.S. team, has said that residents don’t appear to try very hard to stay healthy. Many of them, apparently smoke, and some are overweight. But they don’t go jogging, or swim laps — even though they do have to navigate some steep hills to get around town.

But, What Else?

When Huffington Post ran an article about this study under the headline, “This Delicious Herb Might Be Why the Italians Live So Long, ” readers submitted some interesting comments raising doubts about rosemary as the miracle herb that is the sole reason for a longer life.  One, an Italian living in Italy wrote: “It also helps to have universal healthcare, cops that don’t kill you, and not have the Second Amendment lurking everywhere, waiting for you to walk into a stray bullet.”


Photo Credits: Bigstockphoto. com




  1. As I approach,or is it approaching me?, “90” does not phase me one way or another.

    Speculating on why I have been blessed with a new day perhaps it was Dad having a stomach ulcer which necessitated my Muti to use a minimal of spices. Perhaps not smoking,and looking forward to meet JOE ELM TO INTRODUCE ME TO HIS BLOODY


  2. I think we should conduct our own study. Rosemary, obviously fresh, on our food every day for a month and a glass (ok maybe two) of red wine and see if we can feel a difference! I’m all for reaching a healthy old age.

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