12

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The Cordain Dilemna??

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 08, 2010 at 2:08 AM

Do any of you confront the "Cordain Dilemna" when trying to explain the role of saturated fat in your paleo diet?

Loren gets a lot of flack for having advocated lean meat back when he first wrote his book. I've thought (along with Robb Wolf) that this was unfair, because he was talking about the saturated fat that most Westerners had access to, i.e. from grain-fed animals. And, in that case, he was/is right. Avoiding that Omega-6 dense fat is probably a good idea. But it does make explaining paleo that much harder. It would be nice if I could just say, "Eat saturated fat. It's good for you!" But for the overwhelming number of people who will get their saturated fat from industrial, grain-fed animals, that is actually bad advice.

Advocating wild-caught seafood is easy enough to explain, but a lot of people really aren't even familiar with the concept of grass-fed beef.

Anyone else confront this challenge? How do you explain this in simple terms?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 09, 2012
at 04:41 PM

Big fat megafauna are only big and fat when they are feeding heavily. Summertime hunting ranges. Further the ability of HG's to prosper was probably more dependent on small game rather than large. It is easiest to catch a mammoth baby than a full grown one, and the first animals domesticated were small ones like dogs, sheep and goats. Aurochs were still wild animals into the Neolithic period and required the organized efforts of many poorly armed hunters to bag, butcher and carry before spoilage.

15d23403fb836f2b506f4f3ad2c03356

(1219)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:45 PM

Grass fed meat/dairy also has more retinol and more trans fat, both of which are very good for you in low quantities but may be bad for you in high quantities. Thus, if you are basing your diet on our friend, the cow, I would choice organic grain fed/finished beef/dairy and just take an extra (non-cod liver oil) fish oil pill with it.

15d23403fb836f2b506f4f3ad2c03356

(1219)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:32 PM

You said what I said above, but you said it a lot nicer. :)

15d23403fb836f2b506f4f3ad2c03356

(1219)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:31 PM

Grain fed beef does NOT have more omega 6 than grass fed beef!!!!! Grass fed beef has more omega 3 but the same, or more, omega 6 content.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:30 PM

If I understand correctly, the game we have now is not the game we used to have: big, fat, megafauna. Moreover, HG's went for the fattest of the species.

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:05 PM

I noticed that! ;)

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on April 08, 2010
at 02:21 PM

There's the old joke, if it tastes good it has to be bad for you. I think for Paleo-ers the joke is if it costs little it has to be bad for you.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 08, 2010
at 08:38 AM

thanks for this encouragement-- i was feeling really frustrated that (on the overseas military post where I live) I could not find any grass-fed beef or pastured chicken! Its good to be reminded that, for now, i'm at least eating way better than I was pre-paleo!

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:26 AM

See the quote I put in the header. This question was the inspiration.

Fcaeaac15cf6568f2825b230731d5a7d

(529)

on April 08, 2010
at 05:54 AM

How does that quote go? "If they are thirsty, only give them half a glass of water...if they come back and are still thirsty, give them the other half." I usually save the omega 6/3 conversation for another day. For most cutting out sugar and grains will leave them living off of their bellies anyway.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:44 AM

Talking to local Sioux people 'round here (anecdotal, I know), a buffalo kill always meant eating the liver, kidney, marrow, back fat, brains, tongue and the like first and foremost. The muscle meat was left. Early Europeans first coming across large kills (cliff jumps) thought the Natives to be wasteful savages, as they'd encounter numerous buffalo carcasses with only the organs and tongue taken. The rest left to the coyotes, eagles and crows. At certain times, the muscle meat was dried and saved to mix with fat to make pemmican for the winter months, but the fat was most treasured.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:33 AM

Good point, I recall Dr Michael Eades mentions that eliminating omega 6 from industrial/commercial grain/seed oils is 90%+ of the battle in the 3/6 balance game. He fully advocates a lifetime eating grain-fed commercial red meat from ruminants (if that's all you can get your hands on) as truly a world apart from the processed grain/sugar/veggie oil based SAD. I have reduced/eliminated other omega 6 sources (nuts, nut butters, nut oils) to further that end.

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12 Answers

16
96b5f168645de8a65ff034a03bc0b654

(230)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:42 AM

From all that I have read, it is ideal to eat grassfed but industrial meat is much better than the SAD diet. Even if one cannot afford grassfed beef, beef with no hormones or antibiotics (whole foods, trader joes) is still pretty good. If I remember right, Kurt Harris of PaNu stated that industrial beef doesn't have more Omega-6's just fewer Omega-3's. You can get the 3's thruogh fish or supplementation. Don't discourage people by saying it's grassfed or nothing. That is very defeatist. Get them off the SAD diet and then we can talk absolute quality.

15d23403fb836f2b506f4f3ad2c03356

(1219)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:32 PM

You said what I said above, but you said it a lot nicer. :)

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 08, 2010
at 08:38 AM

thanks for this encouragement-- i was feeling really frustrated that (on the overseas military post where I live) I could not find any grass-fed beef or pastured chicken! Its good to be reminded that, for now, i'm at least eating way better than I was pre-paleo!

9
A1a4882d31414600b2cab395a5b17161

(699)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:21 AM

People would be better off if they ate Paleo regardless of the source if they currently eat the SAD. I'm not sure if it's necessary to get into details unless the person you are talking to is really going to be deeply committed.

Fcaeaac15cf6568f2825b230731d5a7d

(529)

on April 08, 2010
at 05:54 AM

How does that quote go? "If they are thirsty, only give them half a glass of water...if they come back and are still thirsty, give them the other half." I usually save the omega 6/3 conversation for another day. For most cutting out sugar and grains will leave them living off of their bellies anyway.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:33 AM

Good point, I recall Dr Michael Eades mentions that eliminating omega 6 from industrial/commercial grain/seed oils is 90%+ of the battle in the 3/6 balance game. He fully advocates a lifetime eating grain-fed commercial red meat from ruminants (if that's all you can get your hands on) as truly a world apart from the processed grain/sugar/veggie oil based SAD. I have reduced/eliminated other omega 6 sources (nuts, nut butters, nut oils) to further that end.

6
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on April 08, 2010
at 03:33 PM

As a hunter, having seen the difference in terms of fat content between venison and beef, snowshoe hares versus domestic rabbit, and real (wild) turkeys versus Butterballs, I think Cordain is absolutely correct when he states that Grok's meat intake was a lot leaner even than modern grass-fed beef. Wild meat is lean, period; this isn't saying that fat is bad, just that if you're trying to really replicate a Pleistocene hunter-gatherer diet as opposed to a high-protein high-fat diet styling itself "Paleo", lean meat is more prehistorically authentic.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:30 PM

If I understand correctly, the game we have now is not the game we used to have: big, fat, megafauna. Moreover, HG's went for the fattest of the species.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 09, 2012
at 04:41 PM

Big fat megafauna are only big and fat when they are feeding heavily. Summertime hunting ranges. Further the ability of HG's to prosper was probably more dependent on small game rather than large. It is easiest to catch a mammoth baby than a full grown one, and the first animals domesticated were small ones like dogs, sheep and goats. Aurochs were still wild animals into the Neolithic period and required the organized efforts of many poorly armed hunters to bag, butcher and carry before spoilage.

5
93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on April 08, 2010
at 03:30 AM

First off, I think it is really lame of some of the Paleo crowd to pile on Cordain wrt saturated fat, when I think even the most ardent sat fatters (like me) agree with 98.99% of what Cordain advocates for.

My "problem" was that I understood Cordain's position to be, at least partially, based on the average sat fat content of a wild ruminant. That is to say, underpinning his assumption was that H-Gs ate bison as if they were non-discriminate lawn-mowers -- which I don't think is the case. Traditional cultures, generally, but not always, tended to favor the fattier cuts -- if not the fat itself!

Does grain-fed sat fat meat complicate matters?! Maybe. I am not sure.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:44 AM

Talking to local Sioux people 'round here (anecdotal, I know), a buffalo kill always meant eating the liver, kidney, marrow, back fat, brains, tongue and the like first and foremost. The muscle meat was left. Early Europeans first coming across large kills (cliff jumps) thought the Natives to be wasteful savages, as they'd encounter numerous buffalo carcasses with only the organs and tongue taken. The rest left to the coyotes, eagles and crows. At certain times, the muscle meat was dried and saved to mix with fat to make pemmican for the winter months, but the fat was most treasured.

4
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:34 PM

This is confusing two issues. Omega 3/6 are polyunsaturated fats. I can't speak to the quality of the saturated fats in grain vs. grass fed beef, but the saturated fat is good for you regardless of the 3/6 ratio of the polyunsaturated fat that comes with it.

4
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 08, 2010
at 03:21 AM

It's actually much harder than that. Joel Salatin was BRAGGING about how his pastured chicken has a high PUFA content because he is apparently still under the idea that PUFA=good and saturated fat=bad.

In general from low o6 to high: wild salmon , grass fed lamb/bison , grass fed beef , beef and lamb , farmed salmon , pastured chicken , chicken, duck, pastured pork , pork

BUT even that varies...with breed, with local forage, with age of animal at slaughter...it's enough to make you crazy!

But in general, it seems the best choices are seafood and ruminants. Sadly chicken and pork might not be the most optimal meats.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on April 08, 2010
at 02:21 PM

There's the old joke, if it tastes good it has to be bad for you. I think for Paleo-ers the joke is if it costs little it has to be bad for you.

3
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 08, 2010
at 09:37 PM

I was sooooooo disapointed in his book. He has a huge fear of FAT and is wrong. I wrote to him about it. He can't write the word 'meat' without the modifier "Lean" before it. He waited to the end of the book to correctly explain that exotic meats, like Buffalo are leaner because of their diet (grass fed) not because of some tract they have in their genes. Grass fed meat and diary products are the ONLY way to go. You should never eat meat that is tooo lean, it is UN-healthy. Grok MAY have had leaner meats than even our grass feds but he was driven to eat the whole animal, organ meat (very fatty) and the marrow. So Grok got plenty of fat from his kill.

3
0637289bb4a0ab314d80fa4de627d395

(1015)

on April 08, 2010
at 03:12 AM

Please take a look at Cordain's more recent papers and blog post. He has started to change his position on the role of saturated fat in a healthy diet. As the line goes, "I reserve the right to change my mind."

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 09, 2012
at 04:52 PM

I don't see any dilemma on the diet at all. Paleos ate the whole macronutrient range to survive, and more often than not (ie 9 months out of a year) any meat they ate would have been lean. Insisting on a high fat diet isn't paleo in the ancestral sense. We're not evolved to eat a ton of fat, though we CAN do that if we have to. We're evolved to eat whatever's available to digest.

If there is any dilemma it is the insistence that we EAT like hunter-gatherers without BEHAVING like hunter gatherers. The paleo diet is not the optimal diet for sedentary modern people.

0
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on August 09, 2012
at 01:32 PM

Trying to explain basic Paleo principles to someone is simple. Explain to them what to eat, what not to eat and the reasoning behind both.

When you then start to delve deeper into things like food quality, people tend to get confused. Like others have said, this should not change the basic idea of what the diet consists of.

0
6259cc27c052186213b7e973b678ab7d

on August 09, 2012
at 01:22 PM

I think Cordain's point is very simple:

A good quality meat (hunt, organic, grass-fed,etc..) the animal meat/fat 'per se' has better quality and improved o3-o6 fatty acids ratio therefore you can (should) eat more.

In fact I really think the background discussion should advance in terms of fat quality. More Q then more fat you can eat. Less Q? Avoid fat. Simple and easy. You like fat and stay healthy? Buy/produce high quality meat.

0
33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on April 08, 2010
at 07:30 AM

reenactment, science and seasonality

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