Most of us associate the Victorian Era with virgin queens, Alice in Wonderland and tightly laced waists. According to some new research, though, svelte Victorians had more to thank than their corsets for their lack of belly fat: their diets.

Lest you think mid-19th century life was a buffet of tea and crumpets, 1800s British folk got their nutrition from a much more austere menu (although all the antioxidants in that tea probably didn't hurt). Because many Victorians had kitchen gardens, they enjoyed an abundant supply of all-weather vegetables such as cabbage and watercress, which are great sources of Vitamin K that act as natural anti-coagulants; onions, which supply biotin and Vitamin B-6; and beets, which can help lower blood pressure. Seasonally, they also ate apples and cherries, which are loaded with fiber and vitamin C.

Unsurprisingly, this healthy diet led to a remarkable average lifespan for English people at the time: 74-years-old (considering the high infant mortality rate, which brought the average down, most adults lived longer). What is surprising, though, is that it was the working class—not the rich—who enjoyed this healthy lifestyle. Because meat was expensive, they were forced to rely on it for flavoring rather than as a staple. Refined sugar wasn’t readily available either.


So take some lifestyle hints from the old-school frugal Brits: Halve your meat intake, double-up on the boiled vegetables and lose the sugar. You might save a few Pounds—and lose a few pounds, too.



The Spectator: Forget paleo, go mid-Victorian: it’s the healthiest diet you’ve never heard of