For those of you who enjoy eating meat – this has the potential to be the most relieving article you ever read.
For those of you who are turned off even by the look of the stuff – this article might (ever-so-slightly) increase your chances of giving meat a second chance. But that’s not my intention of writing this piece.
I’m writing this article to simply raise awareness of a claim that has gradually gotten more attention as the years have passed – a claim that positions itself as a backbone of Paleolithic nutrition.
Paleolithic nutrition is a modern way of eating where one tries to replicate the eating behaviours of a hunter gatherer caveman who lived in the Paleolithic Era before the takeover of agriculture.
It’s a sin to devote only a couple of sentences to an explanation but in a nutshell, these foods consist of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The main difference being the elimination of processed foods, including grain.
Meat has developed somewhat of a bad reputation over the years. At least to those who don’t really know what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition.
One of the first concerns people have with Paleo nutrition is the shear amount of meat you are able to eat and the effect it has on cholesterol. Because meat, after-all, has a lot of fat. And the world as we know it says that fat = cholesterol = cardiovascular disease; which leads me to the claim of Paleolithic experts such as Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Loren Cordain. It is loosely translated to say:
Cholesterol is NOT bad for you. It does NOT lead to cardiovascular disease.
Pretty bold stuff eh? But let me elaborate…
By saying this I’m not suggesting that cholesterol has absolutely zero negative effects on poor health. Our bodies are a system that requires all contributing parts to be working properly in order to thrive. High cholesterol alone will not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. I will explain why in just a second.
Most of you might be aware that there is “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Even fewer of you might even know that the real names are HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) respectively. For the sake of this article though, we will continue to call them good and bad. It will make life a whole lot easier. Even though we’re about to discover that bad might not be so bad after-all.
Nobody seems to have a problem with good cholesterol so we’ll leave it out of the question, fair enough? Given how I’m trying to explain this in a way that anybody can understand.
When it comes to the infamous bad cholesterol (it’s really surprising nobody has made a super villain out of this idea) there are really two types. Think light/fluffy, and small/compact. Both are considered bad cholesterol, but the light/fluffy stuff actually flows through your body just fine. It’s the small/compact pieces that tend to get stuck in all the nicks and crannies that end up creating long-term problems like cardiovascular disease.
When does your body create the small/compact very bad cholesterol? When your hormonal and digestive systems are messed up from consuming too many processed foods including, yes, wheat and grains.
The two different types of bad cholesterol explains why some countries are known for having high counts of cholesterol but have very few incidences of cardiovascular disease. Moreso, countries with recorded low levels of cholesterol have several cases of cardiovascular disease.
It’s very hard to put the blame of cardiovascular diseases solely on high cholesterol. If it were true then we wouldn’t be seeing those kinds of discrepancies displaced all around the world.
The good and bad cholesterol count doesn’t really matter as long as your bad cholesterol is mainly made up of the light/fluffy type.
So maybe we’ve been doing it wrong all along. Maybe we’ve been pouring too much money into finding a prescription for cardiovascular diseases and instead should devote the time and effort into discovering the cause. In the end we could end up saving ourselves a lot of time and money, or better yet, lives.
Hopefully this information makes sense to you. I wrote it in such a way as to avoid all of the scientific jargon and thrive off of everyday language. If you have any questions about a specific thing you read that maybe wasn’t explained properly, feel free to ask in the comments.
Eat meat and plants, but cut the grain.
What’s your take on Paleolithic nutrition?
If you enjoy this article and would like to receive other similar articles directly to your email inbox please make sure to subscribe to So Healthy Nutrition. Shane can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media feeds.