11

votes

Why is saturated fat popular in the paleo community when the ancestral diet was LOW in saturated fat?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 02, 2011 at 12:32 AM

I don't think saturated fat is evil, its just another nutrient. But I don't think its anything special either.. The diet of our paleolithic ancestors was actually very low in saturated fat (7-12% of daily caloric intake) because they mostly ate fish, shellfish and wild game.. The western diet is actually much higher in saturated fat. Many pro-paleo articles, studies and reviews say that the ancestral diet was low saturated fat, i have never seen otherwise, i have looked through pubmed for 3 hours.

Sources: 1) "Estimated Saturated fat intake in ancestral diet: 7.5 - 12% " http://www.ajcn.org/content/91/2/295/T2.expansion.html

2) "Until 500 generations ago, all humans consumed only wild and unprocessed food foraged and hunted from their environment. These circumstances provided a diet high in lean protein, POLYUNSATURATED FATS (especially omega-3 [omega-3] fatty acids), MONOUNSATURATED FATS, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial phytochemicals"

Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14708953

3) "anthropological evidence continues to indicate that ancestral human diets prevalent during our evolution were characterized by much lower levels of refined carbohydrates and sodium, much higher levels of fiber and protein, and comparable levels of fat (primarily UNSATURATED FAT) and cholesterol.

Paleolithic nutrition: twenty-five years later. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139123

4) "The Paleolithic diet is characterized by lower fat and LOWER SATURATED FAT INTAKE than Western diets; a balanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids; small amounts of trans fatty acids, contributing less than 2% of dietary energy; more green leafy vegetables and fruits providing higher levels of vitamin E and vitamin C and other antioxidants than today's diet and higher amounts of calcium and potassium but lower sodium intake. "

Evolutionary aspects of omega-3 fatty acids in the food supply. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10471132

So why is coconut oil (a saturated fat) so popular in the paleo community? Yes, there are antimicrobial properties, etc but I don't believe its a miracle food. I'm from a culture which traditionally eats a lot of coconut oil (kerala, south india) its the only oil we use, yet we have a high rate of heart disease, among the more affluent classes anyway, who eat more oil. Also, why is coconut oil recommended for cooking? I've heard people say its heat-stable but it has a very low smoke point, the point at which the oil starts to degrade, at just 177 degrees celsius. Extra virgin coconut oil probably has an even lower smoke point. Avocado oil, a healthy monounsaturated oil , on the other hand, has a smoke point of 271 degrees celsius.

Polyunsaturated fats are very fragile and oxidized easily, but monounsaturated fats seem stable, thats why I mostly use avocado oil, macadamia oil (for high heat) and olive oil (for low heat) cooking.

Can someone please tell me why saturated fats like coconut oil and sometimes butter are so populuar in the paleo community when it goes against the central idea of the paleolithic diet - which is to eat what we evolved to eat, what our ancestors ate, and they definitely weren't eating lots of saturated fat.

Fce356005a83353009c11567c217a9bd

on July 06, 2013
at 07:16 PM

@Celticcavegirl. Assuming you're making reference to the peoples of India, I wonder the vast amount of legumes the consume could be a contributing factor. The guys and gals I work with from India tend to consume major quantities.

028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

(812)

on June 04, 2013
at 01:49 AM

I don't think it's about less SFA and MUFA, grass-fed having much better PUFA profile and CLA content, I think, it's the main reason.

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on June 04, 2013
at 12:49 AM

Indian heart disease is often said to be caused by heavy intake of ghee. "How can people eating a healthy vegetarian carbohydrate-rich diet get so much heart disease?" the medical community cries. "oh, must be ghee!". When in fact it's the not very healthy vegetarian diet and high levels of skinny fatness and abdominal fat...

6d64cd6dc98d6ab763bd03678a317964

(2177)

on June 04, 2013
at 12:17 AM

+1. Best comment in the history of comments.

Eead82aa93bbcdada0bcd817d0952e58

(214)

on December 15, 2011
at 08:28 PM

I have also found that eating pure saturated fat causes me to crave...more fat usually at the expense of my protein and my waistline regardless of how low carbs were. This does not seem to happen with, say, EVOO.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on December 08, 2011
at 06:10 PM

Or maybe at the time it was one step too far even for his comfort.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 03, 2011
at 11:47 PM

THHQ, hmm, maybe you are on to something there :)

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:17 PM

No known foraging group had bodies that ate coconut oil or fish oil capsules.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:12 PM

The word chooser is inventive today...tallow, not givesthallus.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:10 PM

There's some irony in saying we don't know what our ancestors ate, then launching into the promotion of something they didn't. So how does coconut oil compare with good old tallow? nutritiondata's inflammation index givesthallus a benign -11 per tablespoon, but the same ration of coconut oil rates -111.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 08:26 PM

Ambimorph I don't believe in magic foods that can't make you fat. I overeat bacon and butter because they taste good. Satiation isn't a stopping point. I'll give you +1 for realizing that Taubes says a lot of implausible things, though.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 03, 2011
at 08:16 PM

So? That just confirms that it's still marker of something wrong IMHO.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 03, 2011
at 07:06 PM

No known foraging group has bodies that once ate a western diet.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on December 03, 2011
at 05:34 PM

+1 ambimorph... That's how it works for me... But that's now. Not when I first went paleo , I have regenerated my bodies sense of satiety in the last few years.

8e3782b68e033763485472f414f507a5

(2433)

on December 03, 2011
at 02:27 PM

"The ancestral diet"? There was only one?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on December 03, 2011
at 02:05 PM

Armchair quarterbacking? Most folks here probably haven't even seen a cow/deer up close, let alone butchered one to see what's really inside.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on December 03, 2011
at 12:28 AM

That sounds backwards to me, thhq. The more calorie dense, the more satiating it should be. To quote Taubes "Imagine: hundreds of millions of years of evolution leading to organisms that determine how much fuel and essential nutrients they consume based on the weight or energy density of the food, or the volume of the stomach cavity in which that food is digested." It doesn't sound very plausible to me.

Medium avatar

on December 02, 2011
at 08:56 PM

I'm never one to recommend any one food or supplement as a one size fits all cure all, but there are some foods I'd recommend that everyone at least try and see if it improves their health, and coconut oil is one of those foods. My point above is that it's impossible to perfectly recreate the diet of our ancient ancestors with our own diet, or even our more recent ancestors for those of us with a variety of backgrounds. That being said, we can try our best to try and approximate it, which is what the paleo community is all about.

Medium avatar

on December 02, 2011
at 08:47 PM

I didn't mean to say we should only look for scientific studies to determine if a food is right for us, the one thing I left out is start eating it, then observe how you feel over a long period of time. What I can conclude so far is that coconut oil increases energy and doesn't slow you down after eating it or cause weight gain for myself and many others in the paleo community. I haven't seen any studies showing adverse health effects from coconut oil whereas there are studies showing those effects from veggie oils. Also, what about those of us who have mixed genetics?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:17 PM

Typically, they are only looking at muscle meat and not eating nose to tail. Brains, organs, etc have plenty of fat - even on lean animals. Modern HG's seem to prefer the fattier parts as well. I recommend reading Dr. Kurt G. Harris in this post on the matter: http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/9/jousting-with-the-atlantic.html

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:16 PM

Typically, they are only looking at muscle meat and not eating nose to tail. Brains, organs, etc have plenty of fat - even on lean animals. Modern HG's seem to prefer the fattier parts as well. I recommend reading Dr. Kurt G. Harris in this post on the matter: Typically, they are only looking at mescle meat and not nose to tail. Brains, organs, etc have plenty of fat - even on lean animals. Modern HG's seem to prefer the fattier parts as well. I recommend reading Dr. Kurt G. Harris in this post on the matter: http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/9/jousting-with-the-atlantic.html

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:14 PM

Typically, they are only looking at mescle meat and not nose to tail. Brains, organs, etc have plenty of fat - even on lean animals. Modern HG's seem to prefer the fattier parts as well. I recommend reading Dr. Kurt G. Harris in this post on the matter: http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/9/jousting-with-the-atlantic.html

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:51 PM

@Amerindian: +100 for real life experience versus armchair quarterbacking.

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:51 PM

@Amerindian: +100 for real life experience verus armchair quarterbacking.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:35 PM

IF no one in your genetic past ever touched a MCT...why do you think theyre good for you? because a study said so? also, organs like heart/liver/tripes are not exactly fatty. you can also see'health benefits' of lotsa oils with google- itll tell you corn oil is healthy and coconut oil is healthy. it will say soybean oil is healthy and avocado oil is healthy...

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:35 PM

So well said, Amerindian! I was sad to see your string of comments end.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 02, 2011
at 04:25 PM

I don't share people's lack of alarm at high LDL levels. No known foraging group has high LDL.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:22 PM

WELL i know in my genetic past there were no coconuts... so, i dont buy coconut oil/use it anymore. it just didnt make sense

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:51 PM

Coconut oil is to paleo what hula hoops were to Whammo. Fads come and go. Lard, tallow, and fish oil will survive.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:34 PM

The best reason for not eating saturated fat is obesity. Overeating any food will make you fat, and calorie-dense butter and bacon are hard to resist gorging on. For me anyway.

Bbaeb252415d6123214e1b98c17117ac

(414)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:20 PM

Last sentence kind of kills the good impression :) AFAIK, cholesterol levels are not linked to CHD.

F3583667d653163c121640a015ffa93a

(784)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:39 PM

Would also like to add to Nance's comment: Those good parts, the soft parts, are also the ones that rot down fastest after the kill, so if a hunter is going to eat the entire animal the parts that turn to goop fastest on a hot summer day are going to be the parts eaten first. They are also less portable for that reason. The muscle meat transports much better and arrives home pretty much the same as it was at the kill site.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 01:16 PM

Arrrrrrgggghhhh! I wish I could stop. But you also realize that buffalo/bison precursors would barely even make it into the late Paleolithic. Animals like mammoths and mastodons would have been more prevalent in the americas. Mammoths had 3 inch layers of fat much like the blubber of whales. Have you ever tried to preserve a large amount of meat? I killed a moose by myself and the flies find it instantly. I know the folklore is all about how my ancestors didn't waste a thing but look at the animals that have gone extinct on this continent. There had to have been waste sometimes.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:49 PM

The point being there were times when far more "lean meat" was available than could be eaten. Early explorers noted the literal tons of bison rotting in rivers. Their Indian guides informed them this was a yearly occurance. If you've ever eaten much lean game meat it'd be a mystery to me as to why you'd pass up such a bounty.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:45 PM

Sioux warriors had even witnessed thousands of bison picked up by tornados and deposited along several miles. That isn't even counting the ones they stampeded over cliffs. To think there weren't seasons of great abundances of prime portions of game, especially buffalo is absurd. In fact the decline of the grizzly in the lower 48 is attributed to the cessation of buffalo carcasses being washed down the rivers and smashed at the base of falls. I think people forget how many buffalo there actually were.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Yeah your right Matt but you realize the hump of a buffalo is pretty fatty as well as the intestines being encrusted with more fat and that those were eaten first.  Any remaining fat would be rendered and mixed with the dried lean muscle meat to make pemmican for the lean months. Did you also know that hundreds if not thousands of buffalo would be killed each year in natural events like lightening strikes and getting stuck in muddy river deltas or drowned in the spring flows of rivers?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:22 PM

Yes, there were fatty organs found on every "kill", but the fatty offal was rather limited in amount (a buffalo has just one heart, one liver, etc...) There's actually quite a large amount of lean mass and concentrated fat deposits. So either we are to believe that H-G wasted lean meat or they ate more lean meat than they're given credit for.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:04 PM

Oh and that doesn't include some marrow bones I saved as well. Most hunters discard all the fatty parts of deer in some kind of kneejerk reaction to the stuff but I know my ancestors wouldn't have passed it up.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 11:56 AM

I killed two mule deer this year--nowhere near any agriculture fields--and both had sooo much fat. I mixed ton with the ground meat and even made summer sausage without adding pork or beef trimmings and regular ground venison that is at least 30/70 and I still have several pounds of rendered tallow in addition to the inch of fat on top of about 14 qts. of bone stock. And I didn't even touch the brains or spine. Most sources will say that this is at least 1/3 sat. fat.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:36 AM

+1 exactly - I do not drown thing in butter or coconut oil but I do not shy away from it like I used to either.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:35 AM

+1 my extended family that hunt and fish traditionally get plenty of sat fat and 2 million years is a hell of a long time with lots of variation.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:20 AM

S.Indians are largely vegetarian, have a very high consumption of modern grains, which were traditionally fermented - no longer so, and eat plenty of modern white sugar. Take this out of their diets, stay with the coconut oil and you will notice the difference

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:35 AM

You may not remember, but it was during the first meeting of Samosa Club that I caught you two kissing in back of the school. Leia and Jarjaravind.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Well said. This is my approach as well.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:22 AM

#paleo.........:)

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on December 02, 2011
at 03:00 AM

You're a dummy Kumar

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:35 AM

Numerous articles, many by people who aren't in the ancestral community, point out that HG people frequently considered the muscle meat least desirable and preferred on the high-fat portions. Unlike Western folks, they ate the innards/brain first.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:28 AM

A sensible approach

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:18 AM

You had my '+1' at your first sentence ;)

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:21 AM

You just love that eland, don't you :) They would be happy to know that they have a champion in the land of humans...http://huntgatherlove.com/content/great-and-mighty-eland

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:08 AM

Here is a picture of some lean meat :)....http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/7/lean-grass-fed-bison-images.html

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14 Answers

27
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 02, 2011
at 01:08 AM

I can tell you that anyone who says they know what kind of fat people in the paleolithic ate is bullshit (AKA they are a nutritionist writing about archaeology). Last time I looked at a skeleton from the paleolithic, I didn't see any fat residue. You can extrapolate based on biological environment, but last time I checked, people in the paleolithic inhabited everywhere from Siberia to Indonesia.

You can try to extrapolate from African game to try to figure out what lower paleolithic hominids were eating (the paleolithic lasted for over 2 million years!!!), which are low in fat, but even that's confusing because there are some high-fat species that were more common in different stages of the paleolithic and in certain regions, like eland:

Klein has argued for many years that MSA hominins lacked not only the technological know-how of the people who followed them during the ensuing Later Stone Age (LSA), but they also lacked the cognitive wherewithal. Interestingly, eland remains in these caves are central to his line of thinking, and hence the reason for this detour. And, as I have been doing throughout the book, I will let Klein speak for himself. In contrast to the other ungulates, the eland in MSA sites include a large proportion of primeage adults, and the age profile has a catastrophic shape???. The most likely explanation is that MSA people had learned that, unlike most other large African bovids, eland can be easily driven, without much personal risk. An eland herd caught in the right position could be forced over a cliff or into a trap???. However, MSA people could not have driven eland herds to their death very often or the species would have become extinct, since its reproductive vitality would have been sapped by the continuing loss of a large proportion of the available prime adults. Not only did the eland survive, but there is no evidence that it became less numerous during the long MSA time span???. Thus, MSA people were probably not very successful at hunting eland, and this makes it especially interesting that eland is the most abundant ungulate in the MSA faunas. The clear implication is that MSA people must have been even less successful at hunting other species that are less common in the sites- From John D. Speth

and since we've come out of Africa hominids radiated into several other types of hominids that then bred back into the homo sapiens line.

So we don't really know what type of fat paleolithic hominids ate, except they didn't eat industrial trans-fats or highly oxidized PUFA. The worst parts of S. Indian cooking are the constant frying of stuff. I think any S. Indian would be better off never eating fried foods, even fried in coconut oil, but I see a lot of synthetic vegetable ghee used by the S. Indian community in the US these days and I wouldn't be surprised if it were also common back home. Particular genetic variants predisposing to CHD are quite high in the S. Indian population.

You should eat a level of saturated fat that works for you. For many of us, high saturated fat levels do not affect our CHD risk. My whole family eats a decent amount of saturated fat and our cholesterol has always been normal.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:20 AM

S.Indians are largely vegetarian, have a very high consumption of modern grains, which were traditionally fermented - no longer so, and eat plenty of modern white sugar. Take this out of their diets, stay with the coconut oil and you will notice the difference

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:21 AM

You just love that eland, don't you :) They would be happy to know that they have a champion in the land of humans...http://huntgatherlove.com/content/great-and-mighty-eland

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:18 AM

You had my '+1' at your first sentence ;)

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 03, 2011
at 07:06 PM

No known foraging group has bodies that once ate a western diet.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:35 AM

+1 my extended family that hunt and fish traditionally get plenty of sat fat and 2 million years is a hell of a long time with lots of variation.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:17 PM

No known foraging group had bodies that ate coconut oil or fish oil capsules.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 03, 2011
at 11:47 PM

THHQ, hmm, maybe you are on to something there :)

Bbaeb252415d6123214e1b98c17117ac

(414)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:20 PM

Last sentence kind of kills the good impression :) AFAIK, cholesterol levels are not linked to CHD.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 02, 2011
at 04:25 PM

I don't share people's lack of alarm at high LDL levels. No known foraging group has high LDL.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 03, 2011
at 08:16 PM

So? That just confirms that it's still marker of something wrong IMHO.

18
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on December 02, 2011
at 01:01 AM

I don't seek out saturated fat, per se, I'm just not afraid of it anymore.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:28 AM

A sensible approach

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Well said. This is my approach as well.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:36 AM

+1 exactly - I do not drown thing in butter or coconut oil but I do not shy away from it like I used to either.

11
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:05 AM

Hi, fellow Indian paleohacker. Welcome to Samosa Club. Watch out for this guy named Aravind.

The question of "saturated fat: is it all that?" has been addressed a few times. Check it out...

Do we need dietary saturated fat?
What's up with saturated fat and the LDL receptor?
More on saturated fat and the lipid hypothesis
Where's the pro saturated fat evidence?

Kurt Harris addresses this issue a couple times on his website, basically saying that saturated fat is healthy, our ancestors may have preferentially eaten fatty bits, and even if not we should go for what's healthy and not necessarily recreating the paleolithic diet. I personally get about a third of my calories from overall fat, and a little under half of that from saturated. So a fairly moderate amount. No amount of evidence has ever convince me to attempt to eat more or less saturated fat than this moderate amount, but if someone writes a nice treatise, I am certainly open to change. :) #paleo

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on December 02, 2011
at 03:00 AM

You're a dummy Kumar

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:35 AM

You may not remember, but it was during the first meeting of Samosa Club that I caught you two kissing in back of the school. Leia and Jarjaravind.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:22 AM

#paleo.........:)

7
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:54 AM

You may be correct about the amount of saturated fat being less way back then, although it appears natural for us to eat a large amount of meat.

The other day I was browsing through a lengthy interview with Ward Nicholson regarding his book, Beyond Vegetarianism, and if you have the time to read the interview, which includes updates on scientific observations cited in the book, you'll find it's a very thoughtful, rational piece.

In a nutshell, he was once part of the Natural Hygiene movement but left because he believes the available science indicates we're meant to eat meat. I'm not sure whether he considers himself part of the ancestral eating community, but he definitely knows what he's talking about.

Here's a brief excerpt of the interview:

"Organ meats favored in preference to muscle meats in hunter-gatherer diets. Observations of modern hunter-gatherers have shown that muscle meats (the leanest part of the animal) are least preferred, sometimes even being thrown away in times of plenty, in preference to the fattier portions. Eaten first are the organs such as brains, eyeballs, tongue, kidneys, bone marrow (high in monounsaturated fat), and storage fat areas such as mesenteric (gut) fat. (Even this gut fat is much less saturated in composition, however, than the kind of marbled fat found in the muscle meat of modern feedlot animals.) There is no reason to believe earlier hunter-gatherers would have been any different in these preferences, since other species of animals who eat other animals for food also follow the same general order of consumption."

F3583667d653163c121640a015ffa93a

(784)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:39 PM

Would also like to add to Nance's comment: Those good parts, the soft parts, are also the ones that rot down fastest after the kill, so if a hunter is going to eat the entire animal the parts that turn to goop fastest on a hot summer day are going to be the parts eaten first. They are also less portable for that reason. The muscle meat transports much better and arrives home pretty much the same as it was at the kill site.

7
E639bc85fd42430285596434a6515ad5

(2226)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:25 AM

Thank you for listing your sources. As I was reading your original post, I was thinking to myself, "this information sounds like it's coming from Cordain." Sure enough, two of the four papers were co-authored by him.

Nothing wrong with that. Cordain has done some excellent work on the general subject of primitive human diets. But although it's not (anywhere near) my area of expertise, my understanding is that many biological paleoanthropologists (or whatever they're called) who do specialize in this area believe that Cordain's group is wrong about the levels of saturated fat commonly consumed by our paleolithic ancestors. So Cordain's assertions should not be taken as fact without recognizing that there are competing views.

(I would consider Konner and Eaton to be part of Cordain's group. I'm not familiar with Simopoulos, but his paper is from 1999, so it may carry less weight than more recent papers on the subject. And besides, it is unclear from the abstract what Simopoulos is basing his estimate on ??? his own research, or a previously published paper?)

In any case, I think the reason saturated fat is generally smiled upon in the paleo community is that, unlike with polyunsaturated facts, there's no known (factually supported, logically consistent) mechanism for how dietary saturated fat might cause harm in humans. It's stable; it doesn't oxidize easily; it just seems highly respectable and generally upstanding as far as macronutrients go.

7
Medium avatar

on December 02, 2011
at 02:24 AM

The problem with your question is the assumption that we have a good idea of what our ancestors ate. While we have an idea of some things they ate there's a wide variety of things that were eaten during the paleolithic period and we just don't know the amounts of each kind of food our ancestors ate. So when we wanna compare a food we eat now to what they ate, the best approach is to see what the science says about that food and also study the history of the healthiest cultures that have eaten that food, and then leave it up to the anthropologists to figure out if our ancestors ate it or not and in what quantity. It's a known fact that coconut oil has many health benefits, this articles summarizes them http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html. Coconut oil is popular and rightly so because the majority of its saturated fat is medium chain triglycerides, which are processed differently by the body than long chain triglycerides. They're transported directly to the liver and burned for fuel without requiring digestive enzymes. Whereas long chain fats require pancreatic enzymes to be digested and are circulated throughout the body and stored in fat cells. Also, maybe they did have lots of unsaturated fats, but they had less sources of oxidation than we do and more antioxidants in their diet to prevent the oxidation of those fats. Coconut oil or any saturated fat is good to cook with because it's much more resistant to oxidation than polyunsaturated fats. Keep in mind that our ancestors ate the organs of the animals they killed which were very high in saturated fat. Many people in the paleo community recommend eating a diet high in saturated fat because if you don't, you'll most likely replace it with lots of carbs, which are turned into saturated fat to some degree anyway. There are other healthy foods that our ancestors couldn't eat that we do today, so if we can improve upon the diet of our ancestors, why not try to? Keep in mind, our ancestors only ate what was available, which wasn't always ideal at the time, but it became that way as evolution separated the more fit individuals from the less fit ones. They didn't have science to show them which foods were most likely to increase their health and longevity, whereas we do, although their intuition was pretty good. We have to face the reality that our soil isn't as nutrient rich as it was back then, our stress levels are higher, and we aren't as physically active. People tend to forget that diet is only one aspect of the paleo lifestyle.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:12 PM

The word chooser is inventive today...tallow, not givesthallus.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:10 PM

There's some irony in saying we don't know what our ancestors ate, then launching into the promotion of something they didn't. So how does coconut oil compare with good old tallow? nutritiondata's inflammation index givesthallus a benign -11 per tablespoon, but the same ration of coconut oil rates -111.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:35 PM

IF no one in your genetic past ever touched a MCT...why do you think theyre good for you? because a study said so? also, organs like heart/liver/tripes are not exactly fatty. you can also see'health benefits' of lotsa oils with google- itll tell you corn oil is healthy and coconut oil is healthy. it will say soybean oil is healthy and avocado oil is healthy...

Medium avatar

on December 02, 2011
at 08:47 PM

I didn't mean to say we should only look for scientific studies to determine if a food is right for us, the one thing I left out is start eating it, then observe how you feel over a long period of time. What I can conclude so far is that coconut oil increases energy and doesn't slow you down after eating it or cause weight gain for myself and many others in the paleo community. I haven't seen any studies showing adverse health effects from coconut oil whereas there are studies showing those effects from veggie oils. Also, what about those of us who have mixed genetics?

Medium avatar

on December 02, 2011
at 08:56 PM

I'm never one to recommend any one food or supplement as a one size fits all cure all, but there are some foods I'd recommend that everyone at least try and see if it improves their health, and coconut oil is one of those foods. My point above is that it's impossible to perfectly recreate the diet of our ancient ancestors with our own diet, or even our more recent ancestors for those of us with a variety of backgrounds. That being said, we can try our best to try and approximate it, which is what the paleo community is all about.

7
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:01 AM

I'm gonna leave it to someone else to point to the articles, but I believe there is plenty of debate to your assertion. Many of the "low sat fat" paleo arguments ignores the abundant fat in the wild game you speak of. We're not just talking muscle meat. And when you add in all that fat you get whole new set of numbers.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:49 PM

The point being there were times when far more "lean meat" was available than could be eaten. Early explorers noted the literal tons of bison rotting in rivers. Their Indian guides informed them this was a yearly occurance. If you've ever eaten much lean game meat it'd be a mystery to me as to why you'd pass up such a bounty.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:04 PM

Oh and that doesn't include some marrow bones I saved as well. Most hunters discard all the fatty parts of deer in some kind of kneejerk reaction to the stuff but I know my ancestors wouldn't have passed it up.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:22 PM

Yes, there were fatty organs found on every "kill", but the fatty offal was rather limited in amount (a buffalo has just one heart, one liver, etc...) There's actually quite a large amount of lean mass and concentrated fat deposits. So either we are to believe that H-G wasted lean meat or they ate more lean meat than they're given credit for.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Yeah your right Matt but you realize the hump of a buffalo is pretty fatty as well as the intestines being encrusted with more fat and that those were eaten first.  Any remaining fat would be rendered and mixed with the dried lean muscle meat to make pemmican for the lean months. Did you also know that hundreds if not thousands of buffalo would be killed each year in natural events like lightening strikes and getting stuck in muddy river deltas or drowned in the spring flows of rivers?

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:51 PM

@Amerindian: +100 for real life experience verus armchair quarterbacking.

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:51 PM

@Amerindian: +100 for real life experience versus armchair quarterbacking.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:35 AM

Numerous articles, many by people who aren't in the ancestral community, point out that HG people frequently considered the muscle meat least desirable and preferred on the high-fat portions. Unlike Western folks, they ate the innards/brain first.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 02, 2011
at 01:08 AM

Here is a picture of some lean meat :)....http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/7/lean-grass-fed-bison-images.html

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 01:16 PM

Arrrrrrgggghhhh! I wish I could stop. But you also realize that buffalo/bison precursors would barely even make it into the late Paleolithic. Animals like mammoths and mastodons would have been more prevalent in the americas. Mammoths had 3 inch layers of fat much like the blubber of whales. Have you ever tried to preserve a large amount of meat? I killed a moose by myself and the flies find it instantly. I know the folklore is all about how my ancestors didn't waste a thing but look at the animals that have gone extinct on this continent. There had to have been waste sometimes.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on December 03, 2011
at 02:05 PM

Armchair quarterbacking? Most folks here probably haven't even seen a cow/deer up close, let alone butchered one to see what's really inside.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 11:56 AM

I killed two mule deer this year--nowhere near any agriculture fields--and both had sooo much fat. I mixed ton with the ground meat and even made summer sausage without adding pork or beef trimmings and regular ground venison that is at least 30/70 and I still have several pounds of rendered tallow in addition to the inch of fat on top of about 14 qts. of bone stock. And I didn't even touch the brains or spine. Most sources will say that this is at least 1/3 sat. fat.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on December 02, 2011
at 12:45 PM

Sioux warriors had even witnessed thousands of bison picked up by tornados and deposited along several miles. That isn't even counting the ones they stampeded over cliffs. To think there weren't seasons of great abundances of prime portions of game, especially buffalo is absurd. In fact the decline of the grizzly in the lower 48 is attributed to the cessation of buffalo carcasses being washed down the rivers and smashed at the base of falls. I think people forget how many buffalo there actually were.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 02, 2011
at 04:35 PM

So well said, Amerindian! I was sad to see your string of comments end.

7
Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on December 02, 2011
at 12:53 AM

"Why is saturated fat popular in the paleo community when the ancestral diet was LOW in saturated fat?"

I certainly don't speak for the paleo community, but it seems to me that the paleo community is all about following the good science. If it turns out that the good science dictates something that maybe wasn't strictly "paleo," then many of us are willing to follow the good science at the expense of being strictly paleo.

5
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on December 03, 2011
at 04:27 PM

I occasionally wonder if Cordain had a low sat fat stance on how paleo ought to be done so that it would have less resistance to entering mainstream thought...

You need to eat less grains... Ok, says the general public.

You need to eat more meat and fish... Ok, says the general public.

You need to eat sat fat with all that 8^). No way! Says the mainstream... That's one step tooooo far.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on December 08, 2011
at 06:10 PM

Or maybe at the time it was one step too far even for his comfort.

1
A83897633eef0383e4ea2add2367314f

(240)

on December 03, 2011
at 03:32 PM

I think grass fed or wild animal fat beats all.

Coconut fat a close second. But there's no omega 3's in it (or at least very little).

1
Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:13 AM

The modern environment makes it difficult for many people to trust animal fats. Coconut oil is a 'safe' way to add more fat to the diet, particularly if you can't access grass-fed or game meat. The fact that it's mostly saturated simply means to most of these people that there is no balance issue in consuming it.

Plus I'm highly sceptical these days of the motivations of anyone who concludes that saturated fat intake should be limited, particularly without any evidence of adverse affects.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:34 PM

The best reason for not eating saturated fat is obesity. Overeating any food will make you fat, and calorie-dense butter and bacon are hard to resist gorging on. For me anyway.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on December 03, 2011
at 05:34 PM

+1 ambimorph... That's how it works for me... But that's now. Not when I first went paleo , I have regenerated my bodies sense of satiety in the last few years.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 03, 2011
at 08:26 PM

Ambimorph I don't believe in magic foods that can't make you fat. I overeat bacon and butter because they taste good. Satiation isn't a stopping point. I'll give you +1 for realizing that Taubes says a lot of implausible things, though.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on December 03, 2011
at 12:28 AM

That sounds backwards to me, thhq. The more calorie dense, the more satiating it should be. To quote Taubes "Imagine: hundreds of millions of years of evolution leading to organisms that determine how much fuel and essential nutrients they consume based on the weight or energy density of the food, or the volume of the stomach cavity in which that food is digested." It doesn't sound very plausible to me.

Eead82aa93bbcdada0bcd817d0952e58

(214)

on December 15, 2011
at 08:28 PM

I have also found that eating pure saturated fat causes me to crave...more fat usually at the expense of my protein and my waistline regardless of how low carbs were. This does not seem to happen with, say, EVOO.

0
68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on June 04, 2013
at 12:57 AM

What is popular in the paleo community is grassfed meat - and one of the main reasons is that it contains less SFA and more MUFAs than grain-fed.

Other things to consider 1) The paleolithic lasted a long time but usually by "paleo" personally I refer to anatomically modern humans, from 200k BC - 15k BC 2) Extinct megafauna. Often fatty. E.g. Aurochs, mammoths. I'm sure they had a decent amount of saturated fat 3) Early humans and hominids were probably scavengers before they were hunters. What do scavengers get? Bones. What's inside bones? Fat. A mix of SFA and MUFA.

028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

(812)

on June 04, 2013
at 01:49 AM

I don't think it's about less SFA and MUFA, grass-fed having much better PUFA profile and CLA content, I think, it's the main reason.

0
D6580ece347eb39ea9780f314a2b1406

on June 03, 2013
at 09:42 PM

Elm Street remember me

6d64cd6dc98d6ab763bd03678a317964

(2177)

on June 04, 2013
at 12:17 AM

+1. Best comment in the history of comments.

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 03, 2011
at 01:48 PM

I do think that saturated fat is not that bad. I am following cottage cheese diet and every one knows that cheese contains saturated fat. it is good for skin.

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