The Ama­zo­nian way to a healthy heart

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Where to find the health­i­est hearts in the world? Turn your at­ten­tion to the Tsi­mane peo­ple, a for­ager-hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ist peo­ple in the Bo­li­vian Ama­zon.

Based on CT scans, 85% of the Tsi­mane had no risk of heart dis­ease. And an 80-year-old from the tribe had the same vas­cu­lar age as Amer­i­cans in their mid-50s, ac­cord­ing to a new study pub­lished in the Lancet and pre­sented at a re­cent Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy con­fer­ence.

In an ob­ser­va­tional study, re­searchers vis­ited 85 Tsi­mane vil­lages in 2014 and 2015 and used CT scans of the hearts of 705 adults ages 40 to 94 to mea­sure hard­en­ing of the coro­nary ar­ter­ies. Data were also col­lected on weight, age, heart rate, blood pres­sure, choles­terol, blood glu­cose and in­flam­ma­tion. The study showed the Tsi­mane had the low­est preva­lence of coro­nary ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis of any pop­u­la­tion yet stud­ied.

The rea­sons why sound fa­mil­iar.

“Their life­style sug­gests that a diet low in sat­u­rated fats and high in un­pro­cessed fiber-rich car­bo­hy­drates, along with wild game and fish, not smok­ing, and be­ing ac­tive through­out the day, could help pre­vent hard­en­ing in the ar­ter­ies of the heart,” said study co-au­thor Hil­lard Ka­plan, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico.

While it may be a tad dif­fi­cult to adopt the Tsi­mane life­style in mod­ern-day Amer­ica, you can take a few point­ers. The Tsi­mane were ac­tive for 90% of the time dur­ing the day. Their diet is largely car­bo­hy­drate-based (72%) and in­cludes non-pro­cessed car­bo­hy­drates rich in fiber, such as plan­tain, man­ioc, corn, nuts and fruits. Pro­tein con­sti­tutes 14% of their diet and comes from an­i­mals. They con­sume on av­er­age only 38 grams of fat daily, and smok­ing is very rare.

Based on CT scans, 13% had a low or mod­er­ate risk of heart dis­ease and 3% were at high risk. By com­par­i­son, a study of 6,814 Amer­i­cans ages 45 to 84 found that only 14% were in the low- to no-risk cat­e­gory, and 50% had a mod­er­ate or high risk.

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