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low fat traditional cultures?

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Updated November 21, 2014 at 3:23 AM
Created December 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Are there traditional cultures that are following low-fat diets?

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41548 · December 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM

I'm more and more a fan of Chris Kresser's "Paleo template" moniker.

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12847 · December 31, 2011 at 2:44 PM

not necessarily cody, some animals are very lean. It depends if they have access to big game or not.

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78422 · December 31, 2011 at 2:19 PM

+1 I think that most primitive people eat as much meat as they can get their hands on, and this usually means fat.

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37187 · December 31, 2011 at 3:04 AM

I agree. I think many cultural food patterns evolved out of local abundance/scarcity/diseases/taste preferences.

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7 Answers

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12847 · December 31, 2011 at 1:36 PM

A lot of the island cultures are low fat, some good examples in weston prices book. Kitavan eat ~15-20% which is considered low fat. Probably a decent amount of low fat tribes in africa as well.

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6087 · December 31, 2011 at 2:59 AM

Yea, the Ornish.

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5132 · December 31, 2011 at 6:26 PM

There are many. Traditional cultures do not have to be hunter-gatherers. What do you call the Tarahumaras, who ate squash, corn, and beans. The Pima, too, I believe prior to their diet being changed via U.S. government. Most South Americans ate a potato-based diet, while many in North and Central America ate corn and beans.

Most Asian and Pacific Island cultures ate either tubers or white rice. The point is that they all ate meat but meat was a very small portion of their diet. In other words, their diet was carb-heavy, with very little fat and natural protein restriction. These people ate a starch-heavy diet, though these were "safe starches" predominantly: corn outside the U.S. and wheat prior to genetic modification may be classified as "safe", or "safer" than today's crop. Why would this be surprising?

It is a myth that traditional cultures all ate like hunter-gatherers. Most traditional cultures ate a starch-based diet with one or two staple starches like potatoes, yams, rice, corn, wheat, barley, millet, etc. This is what most people are not understanding. Most indigenous tribes in various parts of the world have heavily relied on their staple starches for sources of energy. What ur missing is that Paleo tries to recreate the times before these cultures, when there was no agriculture and the planting of seeds for harvesting. It is true then that during those times, you basically had meats, fish, tubers, vegetables, and fruits. But even then, it's possible that it would have been low fat (like the starch- and fruit-based Kitavan diet), since tubers, which are excellent starch sources, do not require farming.

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41548 · December 31, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Yep, there are low-fat hunter-gatherers out there. There was a study (whose text I cannot locate right now) showing that macronutrient composition of hunter-gatherer diets was correlated to their geographical latitude. The closer to the equator, the higher proportion of carbohydrate in diet. Makes sense logically too.

The extreme high end is upwards of 95% carbohydrate with a good number of examples in the 70-80% carbohydrate range. Well above even our (American's) standard diet levels (ballpark 50-60%).

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15976 · December 31, 2011 at 2:27 PM

I'm not sure but especially with the variety of diets and people on this planet there very well could've been.

I would comment though that any people that did usually, or made a goal of, eating a non-lowfat diet would have at times eaten a lowfat diet.

I mean that this terminology and this thinking that sticks with our modern ideas of being able to simply select did not apply to any humans until very recently in history. So while, people like the swiss or something that traditionally ate a diet relatively high in fat did of course at times not have a whole ton of extra butter around to use willynilly like we currently do. So I just mean that there must have always been a lot of variety within what one people ate.

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6418 · December 31, 2011 at 2:56 AM

Not that I know of.... depends upon your definitions. And I don't think that cultures set out to follow any specific macro nutrient ratio.

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78422 · December 31, 2011 at 2:19 PM

+1 I think that most primitive people eat as much meat as they can get their hands on, and this usually means fat.

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12847 · December 31, 2011 at 2:44 PM

not necessarily cody, some animals are very lean. It depends if they have access to big game or not.

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37187 · December 31, 2011 at 3:04 AM

I agree. I think many cultural food patterns evolved out of local abundance/scarcity/diseases/taste preferences.

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37187 · December 31, 2011 at 7:21 PM

I started this as a comment but it grew and grew. :-))

I think Matt's point about ancestral geographic latitude is an important one. Why would I, whose ancestors were all far-northern, thrive on the same mix of foods as someone whose ancestors were tropical? Should we be surprised that I don't like or thrive on a lot of starch or coconut?

Why try to impose either standard as the "right" one for everyone? Sometimes we beat this to death when the truth is you find what mix works for you and it doesn't matter what others eat as long as we all avoid super-refined/processed foods.

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41548 · December 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM

I'm more and more a fan of Chris Kresser's "Paleo template" moniker.

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