This was posted by Mike Romano here
a week or so back. I've only just managed to find time to read it properly and it's interesting stuff.
The plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and diet of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.
The Tarahumaras are unacculturated Indians of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains renowned for their running in competitive races. Over a 4-year period at different locations, 523 healthy Tarahumaras (ages 5 to 70 years) were surveyed for plasma lipids and lipoproteins. We determined also the nutrient intakes of a subsample (174 adults). Mean plasma cholesterol was 125 ± 26 (SD) mg/dl and triglyceride 120 ± 52. Men and nonpregnant women had similar values. Pregnant women were higher. Children were similar, cholesterol of 116 ± 22 and triglyceride of 115 ± 50. For all ages, lipoprotein cholesterol was 87 mg/dl low density lipoproteins, 21 very low density lipoproteins, and 25 high density lipoproteins. Lipoprotein triglyceride was 40 mg/dl low density lipoproteins, 84 very low density lipoproteins, and 24 high and the low density lipoproteins and high density lipoproteins cholesterol. Plasma triglyceride, very low density lipoproteins triglyceride, and cholesterol of Tarahumaras were somewhat higher but not abnormal. The diet of the Tarahumaras (versus the diet of Iowans) was low in cholesterol (71 mg/day), in fat (12% of calories) and in saturated fat (2% of calories). Protein was adequate (13% of calories). The carbohydrate (75% of calories) and fiber (19 mg/day) were high. Corn and beans were the chief caloric sources. The total plasma cholesterol correlated positively with dietary cholesterol intake (r = 0.874), the first time in man such a correlation has been found. Particularly notable was the virtual absence of the hypertension, obesity, and the usual age rise of the serum cholesterol in adults. Thus, the customary diet of the Tarahumaras is adequate in all nutrients, is hypolipidemic, and is presumably antiatherogenic. Am. J. Clin. Nuir. 31: 1131-1 142, 1978.