An article by the fine NY Times health writer Jane Brody, first published this past April.
Narrowed, aging blood vessels, which put most older American adults at risk for heart disease and strokes, are not inevitable. This fact was underscored by a newly published study of a population in the Bolivian Amazon. Among these indigenous South Americans, known as the Tsimane (pronounced chee-MAH-nay), coronary atherosclerosis was found to be one-fifth as common than in the United States. CT scans of the hearts of 705 Tsimane adults aged 40 to 94 revealed that nearly nine in 10 had clean coronary arteries and faced no risk of heart disease. The research team estimated that an 80-year-old in the Tsimane group has the same vascular age as an American in his mid-50s.
There's plenty of good stuff in this article, so hit the link. I am excerpting the section about the Bolivian Tsimane lifestyle.
So what can we learn from the Tsimane? Are medications, treatment with stents and other costly procedures our only hope for cutting coronary mortality further? Yes, if millions of Americans continue to spurn changes in their living habits that have been shown over and over again to be protective.
The Tsimane have a forager-horticulturist lifestyle. Tsimane men are physically active for an average of six to seven hours a day — accumulating about 17,000 steps a day — and Tsimane women are active for four to six hours a day, walking about 15,000 steps a day. Smoking is rare in this population.
The Tsimane diet derives 72 percent of its calories from carbohydrates, though not the overly refined starches and sugars consumed by most Americans. The Tsimane eat unprocessed complex carbs high in fiber, like brown rice, plantain, manioc, corn, nuts and fruits.
But the Tsimane are not vegetarians. Protein accounts for 14 percent of their calories and comes primarily from animal meats that, unlike American meats, are very low in artery-clogging saturated fat.
This does not mean we must return to hunting and gathering or subsistence farming to protect our hearts. But we’d do well to adapt the Tsimane example and modify our modern high-fat, highly processed, low-fiber and high-sugar diet and our extremely sedentary lifestyle.