Would adopting the diet our caveman ancestors supposedly ate allow modern-day Americans live longer, healthier lives?
Proponents of the Paleo diet (for Paleolithic) say that meals packed with fresh fruits and vegetables and heavy doses of lean (preferably wild) meat, fish and seafood will “swiftly improve your disease symptoms” if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes orcardiovascular disease.
Not allowed are dairy, grains and legumes (beans, peas and lentils) because these were a late entry to the human palate, appearing about 12,000 years ago, and aren’t foods to which we’re “genetically adapted.”
While the diet has fans — the recently released “Paleo Diet Cookbook” is fourth in a series of books written or co-written by Dr. Loren Cordain, a Colorado State University professor — dietitians argue that eliminating entire food groups is a mistake.
In particular, whole grains and low and nonfat dairy are inexpensive sources of nutrients that are essential to good health. They point to the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes grains, along with fruits, vegetables, fish, lean dairy and limited amounts of meat, as a proven way to decrease the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
The problem with the American diet is excess, said Dr. Keith Ayoob, a pediatric nutritionist at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
“Do I want to see people eating a huge plate of pasta and nothing else? No,” he said. “I want to see a reasonable portion with some lean meat and vegetables.” Ayoob cites “the rice bowl” as an ideal meal: one cup of rice, two cups of vegetables and three ounces of lean meat in one bowl.
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