Heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity and diabetes have grown to epidemic proportions in the U.S. The CDC estimates that more than 600,000 people in the U.S. die due to heart disease and related problems every single year. It’s certainly no secret that a healthy heart is the secret to a healthy life, but do you know how to eat to keep your heart healthy? Scientists all over the world are looking at the people who live in the Amazon to find the answer. They have the healthiest hearts in the world.
What Are They Eating?
A tribe known as the Tsimane almost never have clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attacks. They very rarely have problems with type 2 diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol. They have incredibly healthy hearts, and researchers are trekking into the Amazon jungle to find out exactly why that is.
The Tsimane people primarily eat a high-calorie diet that’s made up mostly of carbs. Shocked? When so many diet trends revolve around cutting out carbs, either completely or very significantly, this information may surprise you. But the people with what are probably the healthiest hearts of any population on the planet are eating a diet comprised of 64 percent carbs, 21 percent protein and 15 percent fats. They eat lots of rice, sweet potatoes, plantains, and lean proteins along with plenty of fish. Their diet is rich in vitamins and minerals, so it’s filling while still being nutritional. So who says dieting has to be a pain in the gut?
The Tsimane peoples’ diet also includes nuts, corn and fruit. The foods they eat are fresh, with less than 10 percent of everything they consume coming from markets. In fact, they spend much of their time hunting and gathering, the way ancient man did. Numerous studies conducted show that these people have very clear arteries and very low risk of heart disease, even among elderly populations. One 80-year-old man who participated in a study was found to have arteries more like a 50-year-old.
The numbers are pretty impressive, and their diet is pretty rich and filling. But research shows that the diet is only half of what this tribe is doing to stay so healthy.
The Other Side of Dieting
Dieting alone can make you lose weight, but in the end it may not make you that much healthier. Dieting’s partner is exercise, and the Tsimane people get a lot of it. The men on average walk 17,000 steps a day while the women walk 16,000 steps. Because they spend so much time collecting their own food, this Amazonian tribe is active many of their waking hours.
What does all this mean for us? All these fad diets seem like something to keep us distracted from the true meaning of healthy eating and the right amount of exercise. Try eating a diet that includes healthy carbohydrates, lean protein, and low amounts of fat. Add more rice, nuts and fish to your meals. Snack on fresh fruit and plantains when you get hungry between meals. Start eating more fresh foods.
Try out your own version of an Amazonian diet, and see if this makes you feel healthier and achieve a healthier overall weight. Focus on exercising more while you enjoy your new diet, and who knows? You just may have a healthy, young heart well into your elderly years, too. After all, it’s worked for generations for one tribe in the wilds of the Amazon. Why can’t it work for you, too?