The Hispanic Paradox

by Rob English

In the United States, Latinos live longer than white people or black people here. Why?

According to recent statistics, an average man of Latino descent in this country can expect to live seventy-nine years, whereas his white counterpart can expect to die three years earlier at age seventy-six. An average black man will die at seventy-two. For women the pattern is similar; the average Latina will live to eighty-four; white, eighty-one; and black, seventy-eight.

How is it possible that the American Latino demographic which suffers greater overall poverty and less access to health care can live longer and healthier?

Is it genetics? No. As Latinos assimilate into American culture their lifespan begins to shorten. The answer must lie elsewhere. Is it that Latinos emigrate away to other countries in old age, thereby skewing the data with regard to deaths in America? No. That so-called “Salmon theory” has been discarded. Do Latinos hit the gym and exercise more than other Americans? No, overall, they exercise less. Latinos do smoke less, but scientists say Latino longevity is answerable something else. But what?

Could God’s blessing be the answer? Well, sure; but God loves everybody. And as the saying goes, God helps those that help themselves.

So how do Latinos help themselves to live longer and healthier? Nutritionists say the answer may well be BEANS.

Science has shown that the friendly bacteria in our guts take the fiber and resistant starch in the legumes we eat and turn them into compounds that inhibit systemic inflammation, which is a precursor to many diseases. So, a person who eats beans, green peas, garbanzos, and lentils will have a lesser likelihood of falling ill from heart disease, lung disease, cancer, etc. And those who do at some point fall ill with disease enjoy greater survivability rates.

So beans help us live longer, and guess who eats the most beans? Latinos are ten percent of the American population but they eat thirty-three percent of the beans! Whereas an average American will eat a few pounds of beans in a year, the average Latino eats a few pounds of beans every MONTH, often in combination with corn and tomatoes and chilis which are also healthful.

Thus, the greater longevity of Latinos. As corn and beans contribute to our health, hopefully Latinos and others in America will turn away from the junk foods that make us ill such as processed foods and animal-based foods.

Centuries ago, Mayan farmers discovered the concept of “The Three Sisters,” planting corn and beans together with squash, so that the beans would have stalks to climb and get sun, the corn would thrive on the nitrogen that the beans sequestered into the soil, and both corn and beans would benefit from the squash’s ground cover whose leaves kept the soil cool, free of weeds and pests, and inhibited moisture from evaporating away. Those wise old farmers didn’t know about nitrogen or gut bacteria, but they knew that beans and corn kept them and their families healthy.

I would offer bean recipes with this article, but I have a feeling that most readers know more about cooking beans than I do. Maybe you could pass some recipes to me at the PAR email below.

For a short, brilliant video on “The Hispanic Paradox” see It’s narrated in English but you can turn on Spanish subtitles, and you can slow down the speed if it goes by too fast.

To your health!

Rob English is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization comprised entirely of volunteers.

Contact People for Animal Rights

P.O. Box 3333

Syracuse, NY 13220

(315) 708-4520

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