The Real Paleo Diet Was Heavy on Plants With Very Little Meat: Study in Swedish
When you think of the Paleo diet, you probably picture a plate full of meat and vegetables, with little to no grains or dairy. However, a new study conducted in Sweden suggests that the real Paleo diet may have been much heavier on plants than previously believed, with very little meat consumption.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, looked at the dietary habits of ancient hunter-gatherers in what is now southern Sweden. Researchers analyzed the remains of 20 individuals who lived in the area around 7,000 to 1,000 years ago. They used stable isotope analysis to determine the individuals’ diets and found that the majority of their calories came from plant-based foods, such as nuts, seeds, and fruits, with very little meat.
This finding challenges the popular conception of the Paleo diet as a meat-heavy way of eating. It suggests that early humans may have relied more heavily on plant foods for sustenance, with meat playing a smaller role in their diets.
The Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman diet,” is based on the idea that humans should eat the way our ancient ancestors did during the Paleolithic era, which lasted from about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. Advocates of the diet believe that it promotes better health by eliminating processed foods and focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods that our bodies are genetically adapted to eat.
The traditional Paleo diet is often high in animal protein, typically including lean meats, poultry, and fish, as well as eggs. It also emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, while avoiding grains, legumes, and dairy products.
However, the Swedish study suggests that the real Paleo diet may have been quite different from the modern interpretation. The researchers found that the ancient individuals they studied consumed a diet that was relatively low in animal protein, with a significant portion of their calories coming from plant foods.
This is not the first study to challenge the popular image of the Paleo diet as a meat-heavy way of eating. Previous research has suggested that early humans were likely opportunistic feeders, consuming a wide variety of foods depending on what was available in their environment. They may have eaten a combination of plant foods, meat, and fish, depending on factors such as seasonality, geography, and climate.
The Swedish study adds to this body of evidence, providing further support for the idea that the Paleo diet was not as meat-centric as many people believe. It suggests that the diet of ancient hunter-gatherers in this region was more balanced, with a greater emphasis on plant foods than previously thought.
The researchers also found evidence of seasonal variations in the ancient individuals’ diets, with a greater reliance on plant foods during the summer months and more animal protein in the winter. This is consistent with the idea that early humans adjusted their diets based on the availability of different foods throughout the year.
These findings have implications for our understanding of the Paleo diet and its potential health benefits. While the traditional version of the diet may be high in animal protein, the real Paleo diet may have been more focused on plant foods, with a lower intake of meat. This suggests that a plant-based approach to the Paleo diet, which emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, may more closely align with the eating habits of our ancient ancestors.
The Swedish study also raises questions about the long-term health effects of the Paleo diet, particularly its impact on cardiovascular health and chronic disease risk. While the diet’s emphasis on whole, nutrient-dense foods is generally considered beneficial, the high intake of animal protein in the traditional Paleo diet has raised concerns about its potential impact on heart health.
By highlighting the plant-heavy nature of the real Paleo diet, the Swedish study offers a different perspective on the diet’s potential health benefits. It suggests that a plant-based approach to the Paleo diet may be a more historically accurate and healthful way of eating, with a greater emphasis on plant foods and a reduced reliance on meat.
In conclusion, the study conducted in Sweden challenges the popular conception of the Paleo diet as a meat-heavy way of eating. It suggests that the real Paleo diet may have been much heavier on plants than previously believed, with very little meat consumption. This has implications for our understanding of the diet and its potential health benefits, opening up new possibilities for plant-based approaches to the Paleo way of eating. Further research is needed to fully understand the dietary habits of ancient hunter-gatherers and their relevance to modern-day nutrition, but this study offers valuable insights into the real Paleo diet and its historical roots.