In some remote locales, entire cultures of people eat only what they grow or kill. It turns out that these hunter-gathers generally have healthier hearts than people in modernized society, according to two new studies in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

One group of researchers studied the Tsimane people from the tropical lowlands of Bolivia’s Amazon basin. They live on plantains, rice, corn, manioc, fish and hunted game – and they have lower age-related increases in blood pressure than people in most countries.

The other study looked at the effect of aging on atherosclerosis in traditional Pygmies, who live in the equatorial forests of Cameroon in Africa. Their risk was considered lower than other local semi-modern populations.

Researchers say lifestyle factors of these traditional populations — high physical activity and diets loaded with fruits and vegetables — may protect against normal aging effects, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.


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Researcher Information:

Michael Gurven, Ph.D., anthropology professor and chairman of the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Integrative Anthropological Sciences Unit.

Daniel Lemogoum, M.D., M.P.H., cardiologist at the Hypertension Clinic at Hôpital Erasme of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium.