Public Release: 17-Mar-2017
The Lancet: Indigenous South American group has healthiest arteries of all populations yet studied, providing clues to healthy lifestyle
Study estimates that an 80-year-old from the Tsimane group had the same vascular age as an American in their mid-50s
The Tsimane people - a forager-horticulturalist population of the Bolivian Amazon - have the lowest reported levels of vascular ageing for any population, with coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) being five times less common than in the US, according to a study published in The Lancet and being presented at the American College of Cardiology conference.
While industrial populations are sedentary for more than half of their waking hours (54%), the Tsimane spend only 10% of their daytime being inactive. They live a subsistence lifestyle that involves hunting, gathering, fishing and farming, where men spend an average of 6-7 hours of their day being physically active and women spend 4-6 hours.
Their diet is largely carbohydrate-based (72%) and includes non-processed carbohydrates which are high in fibre such as rice, plantain, manioc, corn, nuts and fruits. Protein constitutes 14% of their diet and comes from animal meat. The diet is very low in fat with fat compromising only 14% of the diet - equivalent to an estimated 38 grams of fat each day, including 11g saturated fat and no trans fats. In addition, smoking was rare in the population.
The researchers also note that the low risk of coronary atherosclerosis was identified despite there being elevated levels of inflammation in half of the Tsimane population (51%, 360 of 705 people).