Cavemen Probably Didn't Eat the Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is sometimes described as “eating like a caveman,” based on the idea that our earliest ancestors relied heavily on meat, fruits, and vegetables for nutrients. It’s high in protein and low in carbs, eschewing processed foods (cavemen weren’t microwaving burritos) but also dairy, grains, legumes, processed vegetable oils, salt, and potatoes. These supposedly came later in our dietary development.

New research, though, suggests that humans were eating cooked root vegetables earlier than previously thought. In a cave in southern Africa, researchers have discovered remnants of 170,000-year-old cook fires containing fragments of plant roots—specifically, a carb-rich veggie similar to modern potatoes.

Men’s Health

Subscribe to Men’s Health


The remnants were discovered in 2016, but it took researchers years of comparison to modern roasted plants to find a match. They’ve identified the leftovers as belonging to a plant from the genus Hypoxis, which tastes more like a yam than a potato; though still eaten today, due to overexploitation it’s much rarer than in the past. While investigators have found root vegetable seeds at other sites even earlier in human development, this is the first clear evidence that cavemen roasted their vegetables.

So why do we imagine our ancestors as voracious meat-eaters? Partly because it’s easier to find leftover animal bones, and archaeologists aren’t looking for plant remains. Even if cavemen were eating a more balanced diet than we imagine, though, that doesn’t mean the paleo diet can’t be useful for modern-day humans. Its value isn’t based in historical accuracy, after all, and it’s worked for many people. Diets, just like cavemen, can evolve.

Source: Read Full Article