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  • Starchy Vegetables



    I was just wondering why starchy vegetables like roots and tubers are not allowed on paleo diets. As far as I can tell (from reading other sites) is because they can't be eaten raw. But isn't it only potatoes that can't be eaten raw? I knew a girl who ate raw sweet potatoes all the time. Also, homo erectus was the first hominid to use fire and they existed 1.8 - 1.3 mya. We are the not the same genetically or biologically as erectus and we have adapted slightly to the use of fire - our digestive systems have become slightly shorter etc.


    Or are they not recommended because it is of the high carbohydrate content of those foods?


    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Hannah


  • #2
    1



    Yams are pretty primal, in my opinion. They grow wild in the environments in which humans evolved, and many indigenous tribes still use them extensively. Still, they do have to be cooked so they aren't nearly as ancient in our diet as good old meat and dark green veg.


    I think the only complaint about yams is that they are quite heavy in carbs, albeit with a lower glycemic index than potatoes. Both yams and potatoes have plenty of vitamins, but nothing you can't get from carb-free sources.


    Sweet potato fries are admittedly awesome, but I expect you'll feel better if you use the tubers as an occasional treat rather than a significant calorie source.

    Comment


    • #3
      1



      You may find some of these posts by Don at Primal Wisdom interesting! (Scroll down and start at the bottom to read them in chronological order.)

      http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/search/label/Primal%20Potatoes


      Some snippets:
      [quote]

      Although in overall form the human gut appears distinctly carnivorous, humans have one unusual feature for a carnivore: we have salivary glands that produce amylase, which has the the sole function of digesting starch. Since meat contains essentially no starch, this feature could not have arisen as an adaptation to an exclusive meat diet. It clearly represents an adaptation to starch consumption.</blockquote>
      [quote]

      Thus, we know that humans had access to tubers—I’ll call them primal potatoes—even during the Ice Ages. It seems fairly certain that we have descended from a long line of tuber-eaters extending back at least a quarter of a million years.
      </blockquote>


      (From Lauren, who *does* include tubers in my primal/paleo-*esque* diet!

      Comment


      • #4
        1



        Starch is produced by all green plants as an energy store. Amylase production is also a result of fruit and veg consumption.


        It doesn&#39;t actually prove we ate tubers.
        [quote]

        Yams of African species must be cooked to be safely eaten, because various natural substances in raw yams can cause illness if consumed. (Excessive skin contact with uncooked yam fluids can cause the skin to itch. If this occurs, a quick cold bath will stop the itching.) Preparing these species is a time-consuming process, involving several minutes of pounding, leaching, and boiling to remove the toxins.
        </blockquote>


        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yam_%28vegetable%29


        There isn&#39;t any evidence that Grok was boiling water (or leeching pulped foods), so safely consuming yam may not have been possible.


        Tubers may have only been a &#39;last resort&#39; food source

        The "Seven Deadly Sins"

        • Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . • Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . .• Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
        • Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . • Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . • Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
        • Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)

        Comment


        • #5
          1



          My husband used to eat raw potatoes all the time when he was a kid, and never got sick. It&#39;s my understanding that it&#39;s only the green spots that will make you sick.

          Comment


          • #6
            1



            I eat sweet potatoes from time to time. They&#39;re a nice sweet treat. I don&#39;t generally eat white potatoes if I have a choice about it. Still trying to lose fat, so I&#39;m keeping my carbs fairly low.

            Comment


            • #7
              1



              Potato, cassava and sweet potato are new world foods and Grok didn&#39;t have access to any of them.
              [quote]

              Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, of which the most prevalent are solanine and chaconine. Solanine is also found in other plants in the family solanaceae, which includes such plants as the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) and tobacco (Nicotiana) as well as the potato, eggplant and tomato. This poison affects the nervous system causing weakness and confusion.


              The concentration of glycoalkaloid in wild potatoes suffices to produce toxic effects in humans.
              </blockquote>


              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato

              The "Seven Deadly Sins"

              • Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . • Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . .• Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
              • Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . • Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . • Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
              • Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)

              Comment


              • #8
                1



                Tarlach and I agree on something! Yeah, salivary amylase isn&#39;t evidence that we ate tubers. It just means that we were eating some kind of plant material.


                However, Don&#39;s references demonstrate that we have more copies of amylase genes than other primates. Duplicated genes usually don&#39;t persist in the genome unless the duplication confers an advantage. In this case, the most logical advantage would be enhanced ability to digest starch. That suggests that early humans may have been ingesting significant amounts of starch. Interesting! (On the other hand, genes can do wacky things, and the amylase gene duplication could also confer less obvious benefits....)

                Comment


                • #9
                  1



                  I thought you might just argue with me out of principle


                  Quite possibly man could only get access to ripening fruit with a higher starch content due to competition with other species (ie. chimps or birds). This could have been very early in our development.

                  The "Seven Deadly Sins"

                  • Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . • Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . .• Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
                  • Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . • Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . • Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
                  • Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    1



                    I probably shouldn&#39;t have posted those 2 quotes side by side--I don&#39;t think that the amylase was the evidence he was referring to irt humans having access to tubers. I haven&#39;t personally researched it enough either way, just thought the links were relevant to this. (If you want to know what Don&#39;s argument actually is, please check the links and don&#39;t rely on the snippets I posted.


                    Of course I&#39;m finding this link totally interesting (as a wavering tuber eater--I totally go back and forth on them...)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      1



                      so what do you think about plantains--ripe or green---and other cooking bananas? would they be considered a fruit?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        1



                        Just for clarification purposes, here is the evidence/research Don was referring to irt tubers being available to folks during the ice ages:
                        [quote]


                        As I noted in The Garden of Eating, in 1996 anthropologist Melissa Darby, M.A., of Lower Columbia Research and Archaeology (Oregon) demonstrated that Northern Hemisphere paleolithic humans had access to arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) a prolific wetlands plant that produces a tuber very similar to the white potato. Pollen data indicates that this tuber —called “wapatos” by the Chinook tribe – thrived in the last Ice Age throughout North America, the North American Great Basin, Siberia, and Northern Europe – overlapping the time that during which Perry et al estimate that humans started showing extra copies of the AMY1 gene.


                        Darby has harvested approximately 5,418 calories per hour gathering wapatos from a knee-deep pond. The tuber is most abundant from late fall through spring, when other plant foods are scarce. People can eat these tubers without grinding or mashing, and they cook thoroughly in a bed of hot ashes in 10 minutes, no oven required. They keep fresh in a cool place, and also dried.


                        American Prairie Indian women also gathered and cultivate the starchy camas bulb. Darby says that a woman gathering camas could net 5,279 calories per hour. This would consist primarily of starch: nearly 1000 g of it.


                        Thus, we know that humans had access to tubers—I’ll call them primal potatoes—even during the Ice Ages. It seems fairly certain that we have descended from a long line of tuber-eaters extending back at least a quarter of a million years. I have more to say on this in my next post.
                        </blockquote>


                        I know nothing about the validity or accuracy of this, just really wanted to clarify...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          1



                          @Tarlach


                          Chimps have only two AMY1 copies, while for humans it varies from 2 to 15 copies.


                          Do you think we ate more fruits and plant matter than Chimps to obtain upto 7 times the copies? I don&#39;t. I think we ate plant matter much more rarely than them.


                          Also it couldn&#39;t have been a thing that we adapted in just the last 10,000 years. We all agree that if we could have evolved so fast for grains, we wouldn&#39;t have been having any problems with grains.


                          Don said in the article that AMY1 copies increased sometime in the last 200,000years. This is the time when homo sapiens evolved. It is also the time when it is accepted widely that we had control of fire.


                          The problem is not that we have AMY1 copies, the problem is that we have so many of them. It means that this cannot have happened due to something that chimps already eat. This rules out fruits and plant matter. It also must be a much more concentrated source of starch to force such a severe adaptation, considering that we eat so much less of it.


                          It has to be starchy nuts (plain nuts won&#39;t do) and/or starchy tubers. Both have to be processed before eating, which chimps could not have done. Starchy Nuts need to be denatured in some way (washing/soaking in water etc), and tubers must be cooked.


                          It is very easy to cook tubers in the ambers after the meat is cooked, and the fire has died down. Since the period of AMY1 increase begins after fire control, it strongly points in that direction.


                          Is there any other option? Don&#39;t tell me that we eat much much more plant matter than chimps, because that is not convincing at all.


                          I do know that it is anathema to your thinking. But please do consider the possibility. I think that humans were very intelligent and would have used any source of substantial energy that was available, including tubers.


                          The variation in AMY1 gene copies also means that some people (with very few AMY1 copies) are not well adapted to starch, and those will be better off not eating much starch.


                          But on the other end there are people (with very high AMY1 copies) who need to have starch in their diet. They can handle starch well and will not feel good without it in their diet. Their metabolism now depends on it. It may not be possible to undo the change in their lifetimes ;-). The basic tenet of Paleolithic principle is to do what your genes tell you to do, not something counter to it.


                          I don&#39;t know why there is so much variation in this, but it is there and it cannot be ignored.


                          I am sure that you have only two AMY1s ;-), so ZC is fine for you. But please don&#39;t think that your n=1 results must necessarily apply to others. Consider that others might be telling the truth when they say that they don&#39;t feel good without starch even after going VLC for months. It must be in their genes, which are different from yours.


                          Everybody must experiment to find what their genes tell them to do. Paleolithic principle provides broad guidelines, but specifics will matter, and differently to everybody.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1



                            Most of the glycoalkaloids in potatoes are present near the skin so if cooked on ambers would be burnt, and removed. This does mean that skin must be removed from the potatoes or other tubers, when eating it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              1



                              What particular tubers were Grok eating?


                              Potato, cassava and sweet potato are new world foods and Grok didn&#39;t have access to any of them.


                              African yams require extensive preparation, involving pounding, leaching, and boiling to remove the toxins.


                              There&#39;s only one tuber that I&#39;m aware of that Grok had access to over 65,000 years ago (that might have been be safe to consume when cooked) and it&#39;s part of the mint family. It&#39;s certainly not related to any of the tubers available to us today.


                              Also, as I mentioned earlier - less ripe fruit has more starch than ripe fruit. Not that I think Grok preferred it, but just sayin.


                              Tubers might have been a fallback food and not part of the regular diet:

                              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16085279


                              Just good for storing some body fat when real food was scarce


                              Chimps will also eat tubers as a fallback, so tubers may not be able to explain a difference between chimp and man:

                              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20080283

                              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18032604

                              The "Seven Deadly Sins"

                              • Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . • Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . .• Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
                              • Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . • Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . • Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
                              • Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)

                              Comment

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