Health and Old Age Places with High Longevity: Hunza Pakistan Part 3

About the area of Hunza in Pakistan which has a high level of longevity, scientific explanations, food sources.


Foreign scientists in recent years have tried hard to explain the Hunzukut's health, happiness, and longevity. Probably a combination of factors is responsible. Hunza's sunshine is clear, its air is pure, its waters are mineral-rich. Farming has been entirely organic, with no artificial fertilizers or insecticides being used. The last Mir of Hunza, who ruled from 1945 to 1974 when he was deposed by the Pakistani government, called his tiny kingdom "the Land of Just Enough," adding that there is "enough of everything for each, but not enough to make anyone envious and want to take it away." By Western standards the Hunzan diet is meager. In the U.S., for instance, the average daily intake is 3,300 calories with 100 grams of protein, 157 grams of fat, and 380 grams of carbohydrate. In Hunza, according to Pakistani nutritionist Dr. S. Maqsood Ali, a Hunzukut's average caloric intake is 1,923 calories, with 50 grams of protein, 36 grams of fat, and 354 grams of carbohydrate.

Apricots--fresh in summer and sun-dried in winter--and chapatis, unbleached, unleavened, unsweetened pancakes of buckwheat, dominate the Hunzan diet. The apricot is the special soul of Hunza, because its trees are the 1st to show flowers, the earliest fruit to ripen in spring. Hunza boasts thousands of these trees, and a man's wealth is measured by the size of his apricot orchard. (A woman cannot own land, since Hunza is a Muslim country, but a widow is entitled to the fruit of her husband's trees during her lifetime.) The seed of certain apricots yields an oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and full of organic copper and iron. It is used both for cooking and as a cosmetic aid to improve the complexion. Hunza is also noted for its mulberries, which grow as big as a man's thumb and, despite their seeds, melt in the mouth. Hunza vegetables include lettuce, onions, cabbage, and carrots. These are eaten raw or, if cooked, they are set over a low fire for short periods of time, owing to the scarcity of fuel. This, of course, saves valuable minerals in the food and preserves its health-giving vitamins. Meat is eaten only a few times a year, and is considered a luxury. Goats, sheep, and yaks provide milk and butter, which are taken in limited quantities. In general, the Hunzan diet is minimal--low in animal fat, in cholesterol, in calories--a major factor, it is conjectured by many scientists, in achieving health and longevity. Additionally, Hunzukuts of necessity fast in late spring before the new harvest of grains, fruits, and vegetables comes in.

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