7

votes

To what extent are vegetables overrated?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 01, 2012 at 3:54 AM

To what extent are vegetables overrated? Have we been brainwashed by the marketing of vegetables/fruits just as much as by anti-cholesterol/saturated fat propaganda?

When we read nutritional profiles, how do we know that the figures for produce haven't been doctored to make them more appealing to health-conscious individuals?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Bear lived fifty years veggie-free, and his bout with throat cancer was brief, minor, and caused by HPV (and possibly years of touring with the Dead and ingesting all kinds of weird chemicals -- he was the Acid King, after all). And the Polish in general have high rates of stomach cancer -- it is doubtful that this is due to Kwasniewski's protocol. And there are examples of traditional populations -- the Inuit, the Maasai -- who eat minimal plant matter, and have low rates of cancer.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:09 PM

From Dr. Eugene Fine's guest post on Richard Feinman's blog: http://tinyurl.com/cadsudj

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:09 PM

[...]have existed for millennia, even if more pervasive since the onset of civilization. Although anecdotal and paleontological evidence is all that we have, cancers have been reported in ancient bones. Nothing would prevent cancers from forming, even in the likely reduced insulin signaling state of early hunter-gatherers (or in modern people on VLC/INSINH diets)."

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:08 PM

"First, there’s no a priori reason that cancers can’t arise in individuals on INSINH/VLC diets in the modern world, or in modern (or prehistoric) hunter-gathers. Cancers initiate from a series of mutations due to causes that may be intrinsic to cell metabolism or to the external environment. Even for hunter-gatherers, heavy metals in ground water (even without civilization), background radiation all around us, smoke from smoking tobacco or herbs, campfires and cooking (hunter gatherers had controlled fire for close to 1 million years) and chronic inflammation are some of the factors that [...]

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:07 PM

Possibly relevant to Bear's cancer: "For people on high CHO diets who develop cancer, a low carbohydrate diet targeting insulin (VLC/INSINH) may be therapeutic. The rationale is that control of insulin and the presence of ketone bodies provides a new selective evolutionary pressure to which the cancers may not be adapted. On the other hand, those cancers that develop in people who are already on low-carbohydrate diets (already in a state of dietary insulin inhibition) will not be expected to be vulnerable to the VLC/INSINH diet." http://tinyurl.com/cadsudj

4517f03b8a94fa57ed57ab60ab694b7d

on November 30, 2012
at 08:42 PM

Great post indeed!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2012
at 09:02 PM

I'm not convinced aside from a few deranged digestive system that veggie-free paleo is in anyway beneficial or desireable.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:56 PM

It's quite interesting that the Bear survived that cancer, even though it was only discovered at an advanced stage. He died in a car accident.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 07:57 PM

The reason vegetable producers don't have to sell ads is that the government provides them for free. They put them in schools. They "teach" it, so it comes from people children trust implicitly. They also teach that animal products are unhealthy. So it's the animal producers who have to campaign.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 07:55 PM

Your first argument appears to be that vegetables aren't overrated because they are better than processed foods. I don't think that's a great comparison, because we are talking about the context of a Paleo diet.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 13, 2012
at 07:27 PM

Yeah Matt. I actually didn't consider that it was bias toward colder climate. What I did come away with, in relevance to vegetables, is that they seemed to not be nearly as well represented as you would expect. This is not the same as saying "carnivorous". I was actually pointing out that fruits, tubers, seeds and nuts were written to be more sought after than the leafy greens and such that we try to get 15 cups a day of :).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2012
at 06:01 PM

Also, is the measure of one's diet simply the number of calories consumed? Animal product is twice as energy dense as plant matter. So that 85% of calories might be more along the lines of 2:1 animals to plants in terms of volume/mass. Which is high, but hardly carnivorous.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:59 PM

JayJay, that's the data that Cordain used for his studies as well. The thing that struck me when I was reading his paper, was the bias in the data towards colder climate hunter-gatherers, something like 1/4-1/3. That doesn't sound representative to me.

8d6390b3b8991a9cb653a3d13c1cbf6a

(543)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:53 AM

I gave up on trying to chew and swallow the liver (I tried--really), so wound up just cutting it into small pieces and swallowing it whole. That *still* tasted gross to me, so I washed it down with a glass of water that has an ounce or two of lemon juice mixed in. That really kills the the taste. But, I'm a fairly pathological case with respect to eating odd things. I don't like trying new foods, and usually feel nauseous when I do. But liver seemed important enough to find a workaround :-)

Bdc4873264ec9dbec27505e678dabce0

(432)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:48 AM

Do you use the lemon juice as a chaser or do you mix it in with the liver?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 10, 2012
at 01:59 AM

Who are you and what is your taste. I feel so bad for the people who assume lots of veg and fruit are a must while gagging at the taste of Kale and not enjoying sweets. Within the context of a Paleo Diet eat what tastes good and listen to your cravings.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 10, 2012
at 12:33 AM

That's what I said the first time I encountered the idea of an all-meat diet. Three years later I'm in the best health of my life. "That's ridiculous" is not a really well-supported argument, by the way.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 09, 2012
at 05:29 AM

The Inuit didn't have terrible health until they adopted a Western diet, mM. And I'd like to see a cite for your claim that kwasniewski followers are getting cancer all over the world. I won't address your opinion about Bear's diet -- you know what they say about opinions.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 08, 2012
at 09:36 PM

The inuit and masais do eat some plants, and for example the inuit have terrible health because of their diet. The masai diet is much misunderstood, the don't eat "minimal" plant matter, but much more than that. I doubt that Bears diet didn't have anything to do with his cancer... It's actually pretty pathetic how people try to explain it away. The people who follow the optimal diet are not mainly polish, kwasniewski followers are getting cancer all over the world.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 08, 2012
at 09:33 PM

The inuit and masais do eat some plants, and for example the inuit have terrible health because of their diet. The masai diet is much misunderstood, the don't eat "minimal" plant matter, but much more than that. I doubt that Bears diet didn't have anything to do with his cancer... It's actually pretty pathetic how people try to explain it away. The people who follow the optimal are not mainly polish, his followers are getting cancer all over the world.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:19 PM

Though I stand by the fact that they are overrated sources of those nutrients. Are they sufficient sources of those nutrients? Well, depends on the person and the eating habit. Sometimes yes. But the marketing of them as a "high protein" food is pretty overblown. I don't think any grain can honestly be considered a "high protein."

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:16 PM

mM- exactly! I'm very into individualism with diet. I know what works for me, but I cannot presume to know what sort of specific macro/micronutrient balance works best for someone else. Some people store/absorb nutrients better than others. I generally don't think a healthy person should have blood sugar issues eating ANY real food in a healthy-relationship-with-food context, so I'm not going on an all-carbs-are-bad rampage. I just know that bean+grain based diets SUCK for me.

C3bc92e6b5eba45dc55f43ac3c70cc25

on November 07, 2012
at 02:59 PM

Watch the video. Eskimos are fat and if protein is so satiating why did they eat so much? They also did eat carbs, moss, berries & what ever was in their preys stomache.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 07, 2012
at 12:50 PM

No veg is doable, but probably not optimal.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:54 AM

I didn't have a zinc deficiency as a vegetarian, and I didn't have a protein problem, but I did get a D-vit and B12 problem after 10 years. I think a 10 year run was good on a vegan diet, and I still eat a mostly a veggie diet with small amounts of animal product. I think it's very individual what diet is best, the whole betacaroten -> a-vit is a good example of this. I got very, very sick on a higher protein, and fat diet, after some time trying it I was covered in eczema, couldn't sleep anymore, my hormones were shot etc

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:47 AM

I didn't have a zinc deficiency as a vegetarian, and I didn't have a protein problem, but I did get a D-vit and B12 problem after 10 years. I think a 10 year run was good on a vegan diet, and I still eat a mostly a veggie diet with small amounts of animal product. I think it's very individual what diet is best, the whole betacaroten -> a-vit is a good example of this. I got very, very sick on a higher protein, and fat diet, a couple of years on trying it I was covered in eczema, couldn't sleep anymore, my hormones were shot etc.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:38 AM

I remember this study, it was really surprising, but it has been speculated that veggies offer health benefits by "stressing" the body, through hormesis. In real life the results of leaving out veggies, and fruit, has been devastating in in individuals, anyone remember Bear for example? He got cancer, the Kwasniewski followers (very minimal veggies) are getting cancer at an alarming rate, and long term observation do show that people who eat veggies the most have better health, but then again I don't know about the variables in these observations.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:37 PM

There is generally enough plant-based protein to keep most health-conscious vegetarians from becoming clinically protein-deprived. But there is a difference between "enough to prevent deficiency" and optimal. I didn't even have to become fully vegetarian to experience problems from sub-optimal protein intake (both in quality and quantity). But my personal physiology makes vegetarianism more detrimental for me than for others.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:29 PM

Zinc is one of the most common deficiencies among vegans and vegetarians. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most (and one of the only) dense sources of plant-based zinc around, so only eating a small amount of it and supplementing with a variety of low-zinc food is not likely to provide enough. Even among omnivores, zinc deficiency is common.

Bdc4873264ec9dbec27505e678dabce0

(432)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:31 AM

@ matt: Should we only listen to researchers who are subsidized by big-business and government?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 05, 2012
at 01:34 AM

Me too. I imagine it'd be hard to pitch such a study, though. In fact, I was wondering how they got the study participants to agree to go ten weeks on an all-meat diet. Before I took the zero-carb plunge (three years ago and counting!), I was a staunch believer that vegetables were necessary for human health.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 12:55 AM

I had no idea self-experimentation was the gold standard for research. ;)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 12:50 AM

3 ounces of pumpkin seeds (slightly less than 100 grams) is a lot? Even if it is, it's not like you have to get all your nutrients from a single food. An ounce of pumpkin seeds in a varied vegan diet probably comes up with adequate zinc levels.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 12:49 AM

The protein argument holds no weight for me. Most vegans/vegetarians are not protein derived.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:40 PM

I think we'll agree that the USDA calling 100% of beta carotene as vitamin A is silly. Calling it 25% efficient probably would cover the majority of folks.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 04, 2012
at 09:45 PM

Does there have to be a point wisper? I was responding to Randy with a comment but it wouldn't post. If there is a point at all it's that vegetables are not grown with a ratings system in mind. The sellers are concerned with being better than their competitors, not with paleo diet interests.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 04, 2012
at 07:12 PM

Very interesting. I'd be really curious to see an attempt to replicate these findings with a proper (fruit and vegetable eating) control group in the future.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:04 AM

What was the point?

Bdc4873264ec9dbec27505e678dabce0

(432)

on November 02, 2012
at 09:15 PM

@ Acumen Athletics: What is their thesis?

C3bc92e6b5eba45dc55f43ac3c70cc25

on November 02, 2012
at 09:52 AM

Watch plant positives videos on Eskimo.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:27 PM

One of the AHS12 videos that just came out touches on this subject: http://vimeo.com/52606062

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 01, 2012
at 09:21 PM

Mscott - Fair enough. I was lumping all plant foods together. Same issues apply to most fruits and vegetables, though.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 01, 2012
at 06:52 PM

@thhq, no, I was not aware of the PMA.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 01, 2012
at 06:46 PM

@Matt, I think we've had that discussion before. I don't mean to pick on Vitamin A specifically, it was just an example of skewed bioavailabilities and of FDA ignorance of varied nutrient sources that came to my mind. My figures may be unfair.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on November 01, 2012
at 04:33 PM

I don't think you need daily liver shakes. I also think that on a mostly-meat diet that your needs for certain vitamins and minerals are reduced compared a more varied diet. I believe Stefansson noticed as much, although in his time the science wasn't there yet to understand it perfectly.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:38 PM

The biggest blitzes you see are for orange juice. Tomatoes and potatoes are high volume, low margin.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:52 PM

Grain and seeds=fruits and vegetables?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:02 PM

Fruit and vegetables are not required for good health. Vilhjalmur Stefansson and his associate ate nothing but meat for two years as an experiment under the supervision of a NY city hospital. They experienced no nutritional deficiencies. Stefansson said that his health had never been better. He considered organ meat and regular walking essential. He also valued fat over protein. http://owndoc.com/pdf/The-fat-of-the-land.pdf

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:20 PM

What big push from fresh produce marketers? I don't think I've seen a "Spinach - It's what's for dinner" commercial on TV. On the other hand, beef, pork, chicken, milk, cheese... all spend $$$ trying to get consumers to eat their product.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:18 PM

Seriously folks. Play around a bit on Cronometer and try to come up with a plant-less diet that covers (essentially) all nutrition bases without daily liver smoothies.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:17 PM

The big push of the fresh produce marketers is for fresh vs processed. I don't see it as a major claim that they're different nutritionally from canned spinach, peas and corn. People pay extra for the sensory effect.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:13 PM

You can't see how the massive fresh veg industry in TX/FL/CA wouldn't benefit from overhyping their products? Ever been to a PMA meeting?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:51 AM

In the end, historically humans likely obtained vitamin A from both plant and animal sources. We're certainly not dependent on weekly liver infusions to stay vitamin A replete.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:50 AM

I have issues with the whole paleo quibble with beta-carotene. Where do folks think animal sourced pre-formed retinol comes from? Animals preconverting it for us, that's where. Yes, beta carotene is often not a 1:1 conversion to active vitamin A, it actually varies with many factors. The majority of folks do convert a significant and adequate amount of beta-carotenes into vitamin A. Of course, there are genetic and metabolic duds (aberrant and abnormal) amongst us that cannot.

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11 Answers

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8
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 04, 2012
at 05:53 PM

Here's a great study that ended up (inadvertently) being a study of a fruit-and-vegetable free diet.

The short version goes like this: A group of researchers wanted to test the effectiveness of green tea as an anti-oxidant, so they put 16 people on a diet they were absolutely positive would lead to oxidative damage: an all-meat, no-plant diet. Surely that would bring people to death's door, right? LOL. So half the people got green tea extract in their ground patties, and the other half didn't.

After ten weeks, they had two surprising (to them) results: First, there was no difference between the people who had GTE in their meat and the people who didn't. More surprisingly, not only was there no sign of increased oxidative damage from the all-meat diet, but everyone's oxidative damage DECREASED.

From the abstract: "Since no long-term effects of GTE were observed, the study essentially served as a fruit and vegetables depletion study. The overall effect of the 10-week period without dietary fruits and vegetables was a decrease in oxidative damage to DNA, blood proteins, and plasma lipids, concomitantly with marked changes in antioxidative defence."

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 05, 2012
at 01:34 AM

Me too. I imagine it'd be hard to pitch such a study, though. In fact, I was wondering how they got the study participants to agree to go ten weeks on an all-meat diet. Before I took the zero-carb plunge (three years ago and counting!), I was a staunch believer that vegetables were necessary for human health.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 04, 2012
at 07:12 PM

Very interesting. I'd be really curious to see an attempt to replicate these findings with a proper (fruit and vegetable eating) control group in the future.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:38 AM

I remember this study, it was really surprising, but it has been speculated that veggies offer health benefits by "stressing" the body, through hormesis. In real life the results of leaving out veggies, and fruit, has been devastating in in individuals, anyone remember Bear for example? He got cancer, the Kwasniewski followers (very minimal veggies) are getting cancer at an alarming rate, and long term observation do show that people who eat veggies the most have better health, but then again I don't know about the variables in these observations.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 08, 2012
at 09:33 PM

The inuit and masais do eat some plants, and for example the inuit have terrible health because of their diet. The masai diet is much misunderstood, the don't eat "minimal" plant matter, but much more than that. I doubt that Bears diet didn't have anything to do with his cancer... It's actually pretty pathetic how people try to explain it away. The people who follow the optimal are not mainly polish, his followers are getting cancer all over the world.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 09, 2012
at 05:29 AM

The Inuit didn't have terrible health until they adopted a Western diet, mM. And I'd like to see a cite for your claim that kwasniewski followers are getting cancer all over the world. I won't address your opinion about Bear's diet -- you know what they say about opinions.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Bear lived fifty years veggie-free, and his bout with throat cancer was brief, minor, and caused by HPV (and possibly years of touring with the Dead and ingesting all kinds of weird chemicals -- he was the Acid King, after all). And the Polish in general have high rates of stomach cancer -- it is doubtful that this is due to Kwasniewski's protocol. And there are examples of traditional populations -- the Inuit, the Maasai -- who eat minimal plant matter, and have low rates of cancer.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 08, 2012
at 09:36 PM

The inuit and masais do eat some plants, and for example the inuit have terrible health because of their diet. The masai diet is much misunderstood, the don't eat "minimal" plant matter, but much more than that. I doubt that Bears diet didn't have anything to do with his cancer... It's actually pretty pathetic how people try to explain it away. The people who follow the optimal diet are not mainly polish, kwasniewski followers are getting cancer all over the world.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:56 PM

It's quite interesting that the Bear survived that cancer, even though it was only discovered at an advanced stage. He died in a car accident.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:07 PM

Possibly relevant to Bear's cancer: "For people on high CHO diets who develop cancer, a low carbohydrate diet targeting insulin (VLC/INSINH) may be therapeutic. The rationale is that control of insulin and the presence of ketone bodies provides a new selective evolutionary pressure to which the cancers may not be adapted. On the other hand, those cancers that develop in people who are already on low-carbohydrate diets (already in a state of dietary insulin inhibition) will not be expected to be vulnerable to the VLC/INSINH diet." http://tinyurl.com/cadsudj

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:09 PM

From Dr. Eugene Fine's guest post on Richard Feinman's blog: http://tinyurl.com/cadsudj

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:08 PM

"First, there’s no a priori reason that cancers can’t arise in individuals on INSINH/VLC diets in the modern world, or in modern (or prehistoric) hunter-gathers. Cancers initiate from a series of mutations due to causes that may be intrinsic to cell metabolism or to the external environment. Even for hunter-gatherers, heavy metals in ground water (even without civilization), background radiation all around us, smoke from smoking tobacco or herbs, campfires and cooking (hunter gatherers had controlled fire for close to 1 million years) and chronic inflammation are some of the factors that [...]

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:09 PM

[...]have existed for millennia, even if more pervasive since the onset of civilization. Although anecdotal and paleontological evidence is all that we have, cancers have been reported in ancient bones. Nothing would prevent cancers from forming, even in the likely reduced insulin signaling state of early hunter-gatherers (or in modern people on VLC/INSINH diets)."

14
0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 01, 2012
at 06:29 AM

Wheat, corn, canola, sunflower, and soy have by far the largest price markups of any food crops I can think of (a couple cents of grains can be turned into a $4 box of cereal, the same goes for vege oils, and so on) as well as relative ease in growing on a massive scale, and the ability to be stored and transported over a fairly long period of time without concern of spoilage. Also, as Monsanto re-perfects nature for us on a yearly basis, these crops are perpetually getting easier to grow and higher yielding.

By contrast, vegetables (organic especially) don't last very long and can't provide nearly the same profit margin. Not to mention they don't receive government subsidies as grains and vegetable oil crops do. I just honestly don't see anyone benefiting from such a deception.

That said, it doesn't mean you are incorrect about the facts, perhaps just in the motives (which are certainly subjective; take the above as my personal opinion based on what I know)...

As our soils become increasingly depleted, our seeds drift further and further from their origin heirloom states, our environment (soil microbiome, insects, weather) changes due to global warming, pollution, and all of the affects of modern society, and as monocrop agriculture becomes nearly ubiquitous - our crops that are grown in these environments, in these barren soils, simply don't have the available nutrients to uptake.

Sure we fertilize, but generally just the "macros" for plants: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, perhaps some manure as well (from livestock fed an unnatural diet.) Without a well informed crop rotation (including livestock grazing) tailored to the specifics of the local soil, gradual depletion is inevitable.

Given that, yes one could argue nutritional figures to be overconfident, depending on the quality of the crop that was analyzed - anything large scale can probably be assumed to be lacking even in comparison to an already pale nutritional standard.

One could also argue nutritional figures to be insufficient, if comparing a heirloom tomato I grew in my garden that I rotate and let my chickens fertilize, to your average greenhouse roma tomato, grown with timely yield in mind: picked unripe, sprayed with pesticides, and irradiated to allow for shipping time.

My point being that it isn't true at all that a vegetable is a vegetable is a vegetable; we are capable of cultivating very nutritionally dense edible plants on our own, or obtaining them from local farms we can trust. I would say that the large scale food production system in American is what is utterly broken, not plant food itself.

And the final point I want to make is that there may be some propaganda that has been espoused as FDA-endorsed truth over the years that overlaps into the vegetable realm, that is indeed just flat out wrong.

Fiber is the first thing that comes to my mind here; I see the FDA stance on it as a misinterpretation of the studies regarding fiber and cholesterol, as well as perhaps a convenient endorsement for "heart-healthy whole grains". And it isn't vegetable's fault here, but they do happen to be a rich source of fiber as well.

The same could be said for the FDA's oversimplification of vitamin requirements and bioavailability. For example:

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin A is 5,000 IU.
A cup of carrots has 407% of your RDI, we'll call that 20,350 IU of beta-carotene.
A tsp of cod liver oil has around 4,500 IU, pure retinol.

Assume 15% bioavailability from beta-carotene due to the conversion process; perhaps 85% from retinol. That gives us 3052 IU from our carrots and 3825 IU from the CLO.

And yet you don't hear anything from the FDA about getting enough milk, cheese, eggs, and fish to ensure vitamin A needs - it's all about orange vegetables, because clearly there is "more vitamin A in carrots" - as I said: oversimplification, which feeds their recommendations of plant foods that may be questionably necessary, especially when poorly grown.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 01, 2012
at 06:46 PM

@Matt, I think we've had that discussion before. I don't mean to pick on Vitamin A specifically, it was just an example of skewed bioavailabilities and of FDA ignorance of varied nutrient sources that came to my mind. My figures may be unfair.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:51 AM

In the end, historically humans likely obtained vitamin A from both plant and animal sources. We're certainly not dependent on weekly liver infusions to stay vitamin A replete.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 01, 2012
at 06:52 PM

@thhq, no, I was not aware of the PMA.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:13 PM

You can't see how the massive fresh veg industry in TX/FL/CA wouldn't benefit from overhyping their products? Ever been to a PMA meeting?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:50 AM

I have issues with the whole paleo quibble with beta-carotene. Where do folks think animal sourced pre-formed retinol comes from? Animals preconverting it for us, that's where. Yes, beta carotene is often not a 1:1 conversion to active vitamin A, it actually varies with many factors. The majority of folks do convert a significant and adequate amount of beta-carotenes into vitamin A. Of course, there are genetic and metabolic duds (aberrant and abnormal) amongst us that cannot.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:40 PM

I think we'll agree that the USDA calling 100% of beta carotene as vitamin A is silly. Calling it 25% efficient probably would cover the majority of folks.

10
D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

on November 01, 2012
at 07:37 AM

From my personal experience:

They're overrated sources of protein. I tried for too long to get sufficient protein from plant foods. It was ridiculous and I could never do it without killing my gut with WAY too much fiber and assaulting my blood sugar with WAY too many carbohydrates. And I'm not even insulin resistant!

Quinoa is touted as a high-protein "grain," but really, they're not really more than 1 gram more protein-dense than any other grain in a comparable 100g serving. They're pretty much on par with white rice and whole wheat. And the total protein content is still very low compared to a small piece of fish.

They're overrated sources of B-vitamins. Grains are touted as the best source of B-vitamins, but that's only because they're artificially fortified. Many animal foods are far more concentrated by nature. Liver anyone?

They're overrated sources of nutrients that typically pair with protein (zinc, iron, omega 3, B-12, and vitamin A). There's the problem of poor (or nonexistent) conversion of nutrients into something we can use (iron, omega 3s, B-12, and vitamin A) and the fact that we'd have to eat an uncomfortable amount of certain plant foods to get a reasonable dosage (zinc. 100g of pumpkin seeds. seriously?!).

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:52 PM

Grain and seeds=fruits and vegetables?

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 01, 2012
at 09:21 PM

Mscott - Fair enough. I was lumping all plant foods together. Same issues apply to most fruits and vegetables, though.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 12:49 AM

The protein argument holds no weight for me. Most vegans/vegetarians are not protein derived.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:37 PM

There is generally enough plant-based protein to keep most health-conscious vegetarians from becoming clinically protein-deprived. But there is a difference between "enough to prevent deficiency" and optimal. I didn't even have to become fully vegetarian to experience problems from sub-optimal protein intake (both in quality and quantity). But my personal physiology makes vegetarianism more detrimental for me than for others.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:19 PM

Though I stand by the fact that they are overrated sources of those nutrients. Are they sufficient sources of those nutrients? Well, depends on the person and the eating habit. Sometimes yes. But the marketing of them as a "high protein" food is pretty overblown. I don't think any grain can honestly be considered a "high protein."

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 12:50 AM

3 ounces of pumpkin seeds (slightly less than 100 grams) is a lot? Even if it is, it's not like you have to get all your nutrients from a single food. An ounce of pumpkin seeds in a varied vegan diet probably comes up with adequate zinc levels.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:29 PM

Zinc is one of the most common deficiencies among vegans and vegetarians. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most (and one of the only) dense sources of plant-based zinc around, so only eating a small amount of it and supplementing with a variety of low-zinc food is not likely to provide enough. Even among omnivores, zinc deficiency is common.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:47 AM

I didn't have a zinc deficiency as a vegetarian, and I didn't have a protein problem, but I did get a D-vit and B12 problem after 10 years. I think a 10 year run was good on a vegan diet, and I still eat a mostly a veggie diet with small amounts of animal product. I think it's very individual what diet is best, the whole betacaroten -> a-vit is a good example of this. I got very, very sick on a higher protein, and fat diet, a couple of years on trying it I was covered in eczema, couldn't sleep anymore, my hormones were shot etc.

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:54 AM

I didn't have a zinc deficiency as a vegetarian, and I didn't have a protein problem, but I did get a D-vit and B12 problem after 10 years. I think a 10 year run was good on a vegan diet, and I still eat a mostly a veggie diet with small amounts of animal product. I think it's very individual what diet is best, the whole betacaroten -> a-vit is a good example of this. I got very, very sick on a higher protein, and fat diet, after some time trying it I was covered in eczema, couldn't sleep anymore, my hormones were shot etc

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 07, 2012
at 11:16 PM

mM- exactly! I'm very into individualism with diet. I know what works for me, but I cannot presume to know what sort of specific macro/micronutrient balance works best for someone else. Some people store/absorb nutrients better than others. I generally don't think a healthy person should have blood sugar issues eating ANY real food in a healthy-relationship-with-food context, so I'm not going on an all-carbs-are-bad rampage. I just know that bean+grain based diets SUCK for me.

6
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:44 AM

Not speaking to your conspiracy theory that plants' nutritional data has been artificially inflated...

Overrated/overhyped, as a whole? No. I think the conventional wisdom push for more fruits and veggies in a diet (and even whole grains) is not misguided, processed food diets are really awful. Not to say that a paleo diet is so superior without fruits and veggies, it's superior because it already includes (or should include) sufficient plant matter.

I think some folks take Richard Nikoley's liver cage match, where a huge amount of liver has a huge number of nutritions that cannot be matched. Except you don't eat that huge amount of liver in a sitting, you eat a fraction of that. Eating almost any type of food in quantities to achieve 100% RDAs is a foolish endeavor.

In the end, plants compliment animals quite well. B vitamins, iron and zinc coming from animals in higher amounts. Vitamins A, C, E, K1, Mg, Mn coming from plants in high amounts.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:18 PM

Seriously folks. Play around a bit on Cronometer and try to come up with a plant-less diet that covers (essentially) all nutrition bases without daily liver smoothies.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:17 PM

The big push of the fresh produce marketers is for fresh vs processed. I don't see it as a major claim that they're different nutritionally from canned spinach, peas and corn. People pay extra for the sensory effect.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on November 01, 2012
at 04:33 PM

I don't think you need daily liver shakes. I also think that on a mostly-meat diet that your needs for certain vitamins and minerals are reduced compared a more varied diet. I believe Stefansson noticed as much, although in his time the science wasn't there yet to understand it perfectly.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 01, 2012
at 12:20 PM

What big push from fresh produce marketers? I don't think I've seen a "Spinach - It's what's for dinner" commercial on TV. On the other hand, beef, pork, chicken, milk, cheese... all spend $$$ trying to get consumers to eat their product.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:38 PM

The biggest blitzes you see are for orange juice. Tomatoes and potatoes are high volume, low margin.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 07:55 PM

Your first argument appears to be that vegetables aren't overrated because they are better than processed foods. I don't think that's a great comparison, because we are talking about the context of a Paleo diet.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 07:57 PM

The reason vegetable producers don't have to sell ads is that the government provides them for free. They put them in schools. They "teach" it, so it comes from people children trust implicitly. They also teach that animal products are unhealthy. So it's the animal producers who have to campaign.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2012
at 09:02 PM

I'm not convinced aside from a few deranged digestive system that veggie-free paleo is in anyway beneficial or desireable.

4
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:20 PM

I recently wrote a post about this, because I am learning that in some cases they may not just be overrated, but downright harmful.

4517f03b8a94fa57ed57ab60ab694b7d

on November 30, 2012
at 08:42 PM

Great post indeed!

4
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 10, 2012
at 04:03 AM

I totally believe vegetables to be over rated and history/evolution tends to agree...Let me quote this from Guyenete

"There are a number of striking things about the data once you sum them up. First of all, diet composition varied widely. Many groups were almost totally carnivorous, with 46 getting over 85% of their calories from hunted foods. However, not a single group out of 229 was vegetarian or vegan. No group got less than 15% of their calories from hunted foods, and only 2 of 229 groups ate 76-85% of their calories from gathered foods (don't forget, "gathered foods" also includes small animals). On average, the hunter-gatherer groups analyzed got about 70% of their calories from hunted foods. This makes the case that meat-heavy omnivory is our preferred ecological niche. However, it also shows that we can thrive on a plant-rich diet containing modest amounts of quality animal foods.

The paper also discusses the nature of the plant foods hunter-gatherers ate. Although they ate a wide variety of plants occasionally, more typically they relied on a small number of staple foods with a high energy density. There's a table in the paper that lists the most commonly eaten plant foods. "Vegetables" are notably underrepresented. The most commonly eaten plant foods are fruit, underground storage organs (tubers, roots, corms, bulbs), nuts and other seeds. Leaves and other low-calorie plant parts were used much less frequently."

Fact is this came from data gathered through the "Ethnographic Atlas by Dr. George P. Murdock" Seems that vegetables are over rated.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 13, 2012
at 07:27 PM

Yeah Matt. I actually didn't consider that it was bias toward colder climate. What I did come away with, in relevance to vegetables, is that they seemed to not be nearly as well represented as you would expect. This is not the same as saying "carnivorous". I was actually pointing out that fruits, tubers, seeds and nuts were written to be more sought after than the leafy greens and such that we try to get 15 cups a day of :).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2012
at 06:01 PM

Also, is the measure of one's diet simply the number of calories consumed? Animal product is twice as energy dense as plant matter. So that 85% of calories might be more along the lines of 2:1 animals to plants in terms of volume/mass. Which is high, but hardly carnivorous.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:59 PM

JayJay, that's the data that Cordain used for his studies as well. The thing that struck me when I was reading his paper, was the bias in the data towards colder climate hunter-gatherers, something like 1/4-1/3. That doesn't sound representative to me.

4
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 02, 2012
at 10:07 PM

For some reason this wouldn't post as a comment above, but I'll add it as an answer.

I've been to a few of PMA's monster trade shows due to involvement with agricultural packaging. These shows are the internal advertising of the fresh fruit & produce industry, moving the products from the big growers to the buyers. In general, the objective is to present products as flavorful and appealing to retail shoppers, with emphasis on free samples, cooking demos (I saw Bourdain do one a few years ago) and display presentation. Vendors range from family growers, to Big Agra (Dole, Sunkist, plus lots you've never heard of), to states and provinces, to nations. Consumers are mostly unaware of these shows, probably because the transfer of the produce to the retail chains doesn't affect them.

I've also been to similar trade shows for other food industry segments, including packaging equipment, pizza and meat. The industry is not driven by paleo or vegan or SAD or the food pyramid. It's driven by a need to move products.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:04 AM

What was the point?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 04, 2012
at 09:45 PM

Does there have to be a point wisper? I was responding to Randy with a comment but it wouldn't post. If there is a point at all it's that vegetables are not grown with a ratings system in mind. The sellers are concerned with being better than their competitors, not with paleo diet interests.

3
8d6390b3b8991a9cb653a3d13c1cbf6a

(543)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:41 AM

I don't know if they're overrated, but are certainly not needed in the short or medium term. I have lived on meat, organs, eggs, and marrow for the past 3+ years. I do use some lemon juice to kill the taste of the liver, but that's it from the plant kingdom.

Health is the best I've been in the past 20 years.

Is it optimal? I'm not sure. Do I plan to mess with it? Not really. Am debating adding a bit of coconut oil, but that's it.

I also ran an N=1 3.5 month study on scurvy: only ate Costco rib roast, had melted grass fed beef tallow on it, and drank water. That's it. No liver, no vitamins or other supplement. No scurvy. So that, and other's experience, certainly suggests vitamin C is not essential with just animal products.

8d6390b3b8991a9cb653a3d13c1cbf6a

(543)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:53 AM

I gave up on trying to chew and swallow the liver (I tried--really), so wound up just cutting it into small pieces and swallowing it whole. That *still* tasted gross to me, so I washed it down with a glass of water that has an ounce or two of lemon juice mixed in. That really kills the the taste. But, I'm a fairly pathological case with respect to eating odd things. I don't like trying new foods, and usually feel nauseous when I do. But liver seemed important enough to find a workaround :-)

Bdc4873264ec9dbec27505e678dabce0

(432)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:48 AM

Do you use the lemon juice as a chaser or do you mix it in with the liver?

3
0e2bd01a4b24c10af91033fe5dcf3b07

(324)

on November 09, 2012
at 10:20 PM

I don't eat many because they aren't anywhere near as cost effective as animal parts. Do I need them? Maybe. I eat spinach and broccoli. I'd rather have a mouth full of flesh. More bank for the buck.

2
Af40b5ddd709269dddd832a676e5e111

(78)

on November 07, 2012
at 09:52 AM

Are you guys really saying that fruits and vegetables are unnecessary? Some on, that's ridiculous.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 07, 2012
at 12:50 PM

No veg is doable, but probably not optimal.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 10, 2012
at 01:59 AM

Who are you and what is your taste. I feel so bad for the people who assume lots of veg and fruit are a must while gagging at the taste of Kale and not enjoying sweets. Within the context of a Paleo Diet eat what tastes good and listen to your cravings.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 10, 2012
at 12:33 AM

That's what I said the first time I encountered the idea of an all-meat diet. Three years later I'm in the best health of my life. "That's ridiculous" is not a really well-supported argument, by the way.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:03 AM

I eat 'em when I want 'em, in the amounts I want 'em and only eat the ones I enjoy the taste of.

Personally pretty tired of the Vegan+tiny-Meat crowd suggesting people choke down bitter, nasty foods that taste awful out of some Quixotic quest for health.

If you love 'em, eat 'em. But if you are a super-taster and don't like bitter greens or dark-leafy vegetable just eat a yam, or eat some extra cream, butter, lard etc... I don't think it is actually possible to be deficient in anything on an isocaloric whole food diet.

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