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The approach I took to researching this issue of health was really very simple. I started out by reading as much relevant information on the topic as I could find. My sources are mainly from peer reviewed articles found in IUs EBSCO Host research database, but a few of them are credible web pages that took the time to cite their sources. All of the relevant webpages and scholarly articles are cited on the "Sources" and "External Links" portion of this site for the readers convenience.

After learning as much as i could about nutrition, I began researching the nutritional values of the chief components of the Native American Diet. Finding information on every item used by the natives of the region would have required much more time that the project alloted for, so i focused my attentions on the chief meats and vegetables available to the peoples of the Great Lakes Region, with a few items that are more common in the modern market for comparison.

Below are charts comparing the nutritional values of various wild game to the USDA Choice beef which can be purchased from your local grocer.



The above chart shows the nutritional values of various meats. I was surprised to learn that beef is not very healthy compared to the others. The beef significantly more fat that the others, and does not offer any more protein on the whole. Another interesting aspect that the beef has more calories per ounce than all of the other common species.






Another interesting aspect of the Native American Diet can be seen in the nutritional information of some of the common vegetables. Corn, the vegetable most often associated as the staple crop for tribes that practiced agriculture, is also a significant source of incomplete plant proteins. The accessory vegetables such as leeks and squash are very high in calcium.

The combination of the meats and vegetables available to the native peoples of the Great Lakes region paints the picture of a diet that is high in both complete and incomplete proteins, with only a small amount of carbohydrates. This is similar to many of the diets that are marketed in todays culture to help people loose weight and build muscle mass. It would be like a modified version of the popular Atkins Diet.

The chief concern with diets that are very high in proteins is adequate consumption of calcium. According the Harvard School of Public Health article referenced on the "External Links" portion of this web site, the body requires significant amounts of Calcium in order to properly process various proteins. This becomes important when consuming large amounts of protein over time. It intrigued me to learn that many of the other vegetables cultivated by native peoples are high in calcium. If this is a coincidence it would seem to be a very uncanny one. The vegetables needed to make a diet of high protein staples healthy are exactly the ones that were grown by the various tribes of the region.

It is from these nutritional findings and academic research that I have concluded the diet of pre-contact Native Americans to be one that is more than adequate to produce acceptable levels of nutrition. In comparison to the diet that most of us consume on a daily basis it could even be marketed as a healthy alternative diet.