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Did This Discovery Just Disprove the Paleo Diet?

by
author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
Did This Discovery Just Disprove the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet may have actually been a plant-based one. Photo Credit: nicolasprimola/iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve ever looked into eating healthier, chances are you’ve heard of the Paleo diet. Based on the eating habits of our caveman ancestors from the Paleolithic period, this meat-heavy diet trades processed foods, grains and dairy for high-protein, low-carb meals. The idea is to mimic our hunter-gatherer predecessors. But according to new findings, we may have been wrong about their eating habits all along. Turns out that their diet was mainly plant-based.

This information comes on the heels of a new discovery by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which recently found a preserved 780,000-year-old collection of edible plants in Israel, finally giving scientists insight into what the real Paleo diet looked like.

Thrillist points out that this discovery is the first time that researchers have been able to identify a sizable variety of plants from this time period that humans would have had access to and likely consumed.

With more than 55 varieties of edible plants — ranging from seeds, fruits and nuts to stems and edible leaves — just in the small area of discovery alone, scientists are now thinking that the caveman diet was likely a more plant-based one, with the occasional morsel of meat.

“It makes sense, considering the hunting technology of the time likely consisted of a bunch of males with crude spikes trying to take down animals that were probably superior in size, strength, speed and agility,” Thrillist reports. “Plants stay put. You don’t have to chase them.”

But this isn’t the first time the Paleo diet has been questioned. As more and more scientific artifacts from the Paleolithic period are discovered, our knowledge of primal man’s eating habits expand. In 2010, The New York Times reported that prehistoric man also ate bread along with meat — meaning that there were both raw grains and processed foods.

While there may have been less meat consumption in the original Paleolithic diet than previously thought, that might actually be a good thing. Most Americans eat twice the recommended daily amount of protein, which can lead to a number of health problems like heart issues and nutritional imbalances.

And since the modern-day Paleo diet relies heavily on protein, it can be even easier to overdo it if you aren’t carefully tracking your food. So keep proportions in mind during meal times, and focus on the positive aspects of the Paleo diet, such as eliminating processed foods and eating minimal amounts of carbs.

Our prehistoric forefathers may not have been as up on their hunting game as we would have thought, but eating Paleo is a pretty great way to eat healthy — even if its inspiration isn’t living up to our assumptions.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you follow a Paleo diet? Would this new information make you rethink the way you eat? Do you cut out any food groups from your diet? Let us know in the comments below.

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