Gastroenterologists Walter Voegtlin developed the paleo diet in the 1970s, basing his nutritional plan on the idea that the hunter gatherer diet of the Paleolithic era is a healthier alternative to most contemporary nutrition habits.
While the title of the diet causes some raised eyebrows, the paleo diet food list consists of fish, grass-fed meets, fresh fruits and vegetables, roots and nuts, while excluding more processed foods like refined sugars.
When the diet was developed, many people were interested if the nutritional plan contained any deficiencies. Specifically, if the paleo diet fats were present and in the right amounts.
Several fatty acids are essential for proper functioning and can be excluded by some diets.
The paleo diet, when followed properly, contains all of the fatty acids needed. The nuts in the diet are high in fat and contain many of the essential fatty acids needed. Fish, also included in the diet, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to prevent artheroschlerosis, suppress heart arrhythmias, and improve cardiovascular health.
Other fats like poly and monounsaturated fats can be found in the meat sources as well as vegetables like avocados. Avocados are a great source of polyunsaturated fats which are easily broken down by the body and provide many health benefits.
Some health professionals have argued that there are high amounts of saturated fats in the paleo diet. One of the fat sources recommended by the paleo diet is animal fat. This type of fat is high in saturated fat and usually not recommended in today’s diet as saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and contribute to cardiovascular disease. The major source of these fats would come from grain fed beef.
While this concern is somewhat valid, the paleo diet consists of grass-fed beef. By feeding cows a grass fed diet, the meat will contain significantly more omega-3 fatty acids and fewer saturated fats than grain-fed cows.
The paleo diet fats are a balanced way to receive the essential fatty acids necessary for normal functioning. As with any diet plan, the paleo diet will take some adjustment and taking processed foods and sugars out of the diet can be difficult, an individual’s overall health can be improved.
The foods in the nutritional plan are high density foods, meaning that they contain a great deal of nutrients. Most processed foods like desserts or chips, are high in calories but are not a significant source of vitamins or minerals.
The paleo diet is high in essential nutrients and can help individual’s to lead a healthy, more balanced lifestyle. While it is not meant to be a weight loss plan, maintaining a healthy weight would be much easier on the paleo diet. For individuals who are trying to lead healthy lifestyles, the paleo diet is a good option that provides all essential fats and nutrients.