And I'm talkin' mostly about things like broccoli/spinach and mushrooms/onions/tomatoes and such. Peter at Hyperlipid seems kinda anti-veg, at least the papers he talks about show no health benefits. Dr. Harris seems to not advocate veggies as important. Mark Sisson, OTOH, can't get enough!
My take is that antioxidants are not really beneficial and that whole acid/base thing seems goofy. Fiber is probably overrated. Which leaves vitamins/minerals/other nutrients. Art Ayers at Cooling Inflammation is a big fan of pectin (apples/tomatoes) for gut health and he also likes vitamin C. Is C important?
How important or not is it to get your "5 a Day"?
This is a very contentious question.
Most vegetables don't want to be eaten.
Most vegetables have antinutrients/smallpoisons(goitrogen etc)
Cooking neutralizes alot of this, but not all.
I eat only cooked veggies, mostly meat and fat. If you look at the science instead of just opinion of former vegetarians, it becomes clearer
The poisons in the dose... Eat a large variety and you'll likely be fine(plus hormesis) but overeat one vegetable and potentially suffer the consequences of lectins, goitrogens, etc.
------------additional reading--- - beyondveg.com
There's tons more to read, I'll dig up more tonight, some antinutrient specific stuff
Panagiotakos DB, Pitsavos C, Kokkinos P, et al. Consumption of fruits and vegetables in relation to the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes; the CARDIO2000 case-control study. Nutr J 2003; 2: 2.
'Three fruit and veg are still healthy'. Daily Mail, 2 September 2003, p 8.
Hung H-C, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Major Chronic Disease. J Nat Canc Inst 2004; 96: 1577-1584
Paolo Boffetta, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). JNCI 2010, [advance access] doi:10.1093/jnci/djq072
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The science is very misleading, be wary of even paleo experts.
-Antinutrients and toxins may have lots of evidence with regards to short term biomarkers, but very little evidence for long term outcomes.
-Humans have had many years to adapt to their local vegetation, especially when meat was low or just to add some taste.
-Antioxidants may be more important now because of a couple reasons. One is that we have way different, perhaps more stressful lives than paleoliths. Two is that we live longer and accumulate oxidative damage for a longer period. Three is that some foods creep into our diets that could be combatted by eating plants.
-Many paleolithic diets involved more carb intake than many modern paleo folks consume. It's like paleolithic sometimes takes on the definition of "meat diet" for arbitrary reasons rather than "meat centered diet"
When there tends to be conflicting data on a subject, I personally use common sense and logic to determine my course of action. For the vast majority of human history, humans have lived and eaten veggies (Arctic cultures have limited exposure, I know, and they may just show that veggies aren't necessary but that's not the topic at hand). This isn't a recent phenomenon like agriculture, we're talking eons. Something tells me natural selection would have weeded that habit out (like it sadly might be doing with agriculture/grain consumption).
From a health standpoint, some veggies do not want to be eaten and contain anti-nutrients. Others offer their fruit as a tasty vehicle for spreading seeds. Deer comes by and eats a tomato, poops it out a mile away and there you've got a new tomato plant growing away from it's host. So it's hard to make a sweeping generalization about plants because different edible parts serve different purposes. A zucchini contains seeds and spinach leaves do not, they serve different purposes so they need to be taken as a case by case basis.
From a modern paleo standpoint, organic grassfed meat is friggin expensive. Veggies, especially this time of the year, are super cheap. We aren't talking about widespread negative effects like excessive carb and polyunsaturated fat intake, we're quibbling about details and individual nutrients in certain veggies. From my wallet's standpoint, I'm willing to tolerate that trade-off if I can get some otherwise nutritious and tasty food into my diet.
Doing a little research on how to best prepare each veggie takes some work but could settle some upset minds. Spinach's iron is best absorbed when it's cooked. Broccoli has its peak nutrition when its steamed. Do a little research and act accordingly. I personally eat a few salads a weeks and eat cooked veggies a few times a week as well. Mix it up, add in and swap out veggies. Eat them with meats and fats. Eating a well balanced diet is pretty sound advice, just avoid the food pyramid if you're curious which foods to include in that balance.
I've noticed that I just feel a hell of a lot better when I load up on the veggies, especially raw veggies. My training doesn't burn me out as much, and I feel more energetic, and just in general more relaxed and comfortable. That's just my bid, though, don't hate on the veggies!
Everywhere you look there is conflicting science and opinion on the human diet. I like to keep an open mind, and thus my beliefs are dynamic and change as the information changes. As of today I think veggies, in moderation, are healthy. Some are better than others, obviously.
I must say that I am so confused sometimes from the variety of (sometimes) contradicting data, that I kind of gave up and decided to simply eat whatever I feel like ;-) I hope my body is healthy enough to give me hints if it needs something extra... Sometimes I eat more veggies (almost only cooked), sometimes hardly any - like now.
Loads of great replies but I'll just add that I think of it in the most basic terms (as I see it of course): through much, indeed probably most, of our earliest time on this planet we were living through what we would call ice ages. Not much veg around. I take from this that we can do fine without them (as I've been doing for three months). I'm sure we can eat some and do fine too but I do not think they represent anything crucial to our thriving.
Yes, I agree, the jury is still out on antioxidants and vegetables. Veggies do contain certain nutrients that are lacking in meat. Some argue, if you eat ALL meat and nothing else, then your need for other nutrients is not as great. But few of us eat ALL meat. The very act of eating other things besides meat may increase need for other nutrients. Which may be totally fine as long as you get those other nutrients that you now have increased need for. Some people think there are 'islands of safety' in how to eat. LIke if you eat one thing that has an issue , you are still fine as long you eat another thing that makes up for the weaknesses of the first thing. Such that there are diets that are fine and healthy but perhaps similar but slightly different diets that would cause problems because one or more essential ingredient might be missing. That I think is one very good reason why we always need to be watching ourselves, listening to our bodies, and learning more. Also thrown into the mix for added confusion is the complexity that each individual's islands of safety may be somewhat unique due to genetics and history of their bloodline. Some day, maybe soon, with all the advancement in genetic testing, I think we will develop testing to be able to individualize our diets, but beware because I am sure big pharma will try to couple that with tons of 'preventative' pill popping recommendations as well.
I like how Dr Harris, PaNu, refers to vegetables. "Plants and plant compounds are not essential or magic". Actually when you think about it, most veggies are quite tasteless without lots of butter and or salt to flavour them. I only very occasionally eat them when I feel like something different but it's only a bit of cabbage or some leek or mushrooms or a brussel sprout or two. So while I don't think they're essential I don't there is any harm in eating some now and again, just avoid the potatoes, corn and keep the starchy stuff to a minimum.
Cows eat grass (at least the grass-fed ones). Grass does not want to be eaten. But still cows eat it, and it seems important for their health, as we all know.
So how do cows stay healthy? Well, natural selection gave them the tools to digest the grass. And for that, cows (and of course, their wild ancestors) had to have enough evolutionary time and selective pressures.
So, are humans adapted to eat veggies? I don't know, but it would depend on how long we have been eating them.
Some research suggests that this could be true, since a lot of the 'good' things in veggies (the anti-occidants and other micronutrients) are actually bad things, but by the way of hormesis our bodies turn it into someting good. And I think that hormesis also suggests that it is an evolutionary adaptation.
Now this is just some speculation, but this could be supported by science. Anybody?