The healthiest hearts in the world have been found in the Tsimane people in the forests of Bolivia, say researchers.
Barely any Tsimane had signs of clogged up arteries – even well into old age – a study in the Lancet showed.
“It’s an incredible population” with radically different diets and ways of living, said the researchers.
They admit the rest of the world cannot revert to a hunter-gathering and early farming existence, but said there were lessons for all of us.
Tsimane is pronounced “chee-may-nay”.
There are around 16,000 Tsimane who hunt, fish and farm on the Maniqui River in the Amazon rainforest in the Bolivian lowlands.
Their way of life has similarities to human civilisation thousands of years ago.
It took the team of scientists and doctors multiple flights and a canoe journey to get there.
How does your diet compare with the Tsimane?
- 17% of their diet is game including wild pig, tapir and capybara (the world’s largest rodent)
- 7% is freshwater fish including piranha and catfish
- Most of the rest comes from family farms growing rice, maize, manioc root (like sweet potato) and plantains (similar to banana)
- It is topped up with foraged fruit and nuts
- 72% of calories come from carbohydrates compared with 52% in the US
- 14% from fat compared with 34% in the US, Tsimane also consume much less saturated fat
- Both Americans and Tsimane have 14% of calories from protein, but Tsimane have more lean meat
They are also far more physically active with the men averaging 17,000 steps a day and the women 16,000.
Even the over-60s have a step count over 15,000.
It makes most people’s struggle to get near 10,000 seem deeply insignificant.
“They achieve a remarkable dose of exercise,” says Dr Gregory Thomas, one of the researchers and from Long Beach Memorial medical centre in California.
Wow, be like the Tsemanis.