Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Feb

Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You?

steak3As Primal eaters, you have no doubt been the recipient of many an email populated with scary studies about the association of meat consumption with various degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Heck, a new one just came out that I’m sure I’ll be receiving dozens of times in my inbox (turns out controlling for body weight negates the links!). And though most of them can be explained by the “healthy user effect,” the failure to control for other variables, and the processed meat versus unprocessed meat dichotomy, a few do appear to suggest a link between certain diseases and eating meat that’s been cooked a certain way:

  • One study found that people who prefer their red meat well done are 8.8 times more likely to get colorectal cancer than people who prefer their red meat rare.
  • Another study found that well done meat seems to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • And a recent review of several different studies found that consumption of well-done meat is associated with elevated cancer risk in humans.

Cooking isn’t bad, of course. It makes food taste better, gives us access to a wider range of foods – like starches – that would otherwise be fairly indigestible, kills food-borne pathogens, improves the texture of foods (meat becomes more tender, fat renders, vegetables soften), and increases the calories we can extract from food.

But there’s a dark side to cooking. Depending on the methods and ingredients you use and the temperature you apply, cooking can create carcinogenic and toxic compounds, and oxidized fats – and these may be involved in some of the diseases studied. It may not be the meat itself, but how we treat the meat. So – what compounds should we be worrying about?

Heterocyclic Amines

When meat is directly exposed to high temperature, the amino acids, sugars, and creatine within it react to form heterocyclic amines (HCA). In animal studies, HCAs are mutagenic – they provoke harmful DNA mutations, can change gene expression, and cause cancer. Epidemiological studies link HCA intake in humans to many of these same cancers (including cancer of the prostatepancreas, and colon). Caution appears to be warranted.

Advanced Glycation Endproducts

When steak is browned, when sugar is caramelized, or when you get a nice crust going on that roast, you’re creating advanced glycation endproducts via the Maillard reaction. Most AGEs actually form endogenously, inside our bodies, but dietary AGEs appear to have some negative effects of their own. Dietary AGEs have been shown to drain a person’s antioxidant stores, opening them up to an inflammatory cascade that includes insulin resistance and, potentially, diabetes, while low-AGE diets can increase insulin sensitivity in humans.

Oxidized Lipids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids in meat (or in the seed oils used to marinade the meat) can become oxidized when exposed to high heat. When eaten, these oxidized fats are incorporated into circulating lipids, thus increasing the risk of atherosclerosis.

The easiest way to minimize your exposure to heat-related toxins is to emphasize gentle cooking methods and de-emphasize higher heat methods.

More abrasive cooking methods include:

Minimize those.

Gentler cooking methods include:

  • Steaming
  • Poaching
  • Boiling
  • Braising
  • Simmering
  • Baking
  • Pressure cooking
  • Crockpottin’

Emphasize those, because they all limit the formation of HCAs, AGEs, and oxidized lipids. They’ll take you most of the way, but there are other variables to tweak (or at least be aware of) for greater protection:

Cooking temperature - Most studies indicate that 300 ºF, or 150 ºC, results in minimal HCA formation, even when pan-frying; 400 ºF is when the carcinogens really start accumulating quickly. As for AGEs, watch for browning. That’s the Maillard reaction, and it’s a good basic indicator of AGE formation.

Creatine content of the meat - The more creatine in the meat, the more HCA will be formed. That’s why grilled salmon has more HCA than grilled burger, and it’s why the mid-90s trend of post-workout creatine monohydrate pancakes resulted in an exponential spike in cancer deaths among weight lifters (ok, that’s not true).

Saturation of the fat - The more saturated the fat you use to cook, the more resistant it is to oxidation from heat exposure. Highly saturated coconut oil bests mostly polyunsaturated sunflower oil, for example. Same goes for the fat in the meat; ruminant fat is more resistant to oxidation than chicken fat.

Antioxidant content of the fat - Some fats come with antioxidants that increase their resistance to heat. Even though it contains ample amounts of polyunsaturated fat, sesame oil is quite resistant to heat because of the antioxidants it bears. Extra virgin olive oil and red palm oil are other examples of good fats high in antioxidants.

Antioxidant content of the meat - Pastured animals allowed to eat fresh grass, wild forage and herbs will effectively produce antioxidant-infused meat with greater oxidative stability than animals raised on concentrated feed.

Protective foods consumed with the meal - Certain foods seem to mitigate or even negate the harmful effects of heat-related toxins. Interestingly, many of them appear to confirm the healthfulness of certain cultural traditions.

Pretty much any plant food you eat with your meat, especially the colorful ones, will have a favorable impact on carcinogen formation, lipid oxidation, or mutagenicity. Blueberries, beets, salad greens, carrots, tomatoes, apple slices, spices – it’s hard to go wrong. They certainly won’t hurt.

Marinades - Almost uniformly, marinating your meat will reduce the formation of toxic compounds like HCA and AGE, even if you grill it or pan-fry it. Use a quality antioxidant rich fat, like olive oil; an acidic medium, like citrus juice or vinegar; and some antioxidant rich flavorings, like herbs, peppers, garlic, ginger, and spices like turmeric or cayenne and you’ll probably produce a marinade capable of inhibiting toxin formation. Maybe not completely, maybe a few AGEs or HCAs will slip through, but anything is better than just throwing it on the grill or in the pan naked and dry. For some ideas that will surely help make your meats healthier and more delicious, try some Primal marinades.

The ingredients of the marinade matter. Sugar, for example, will increase the formation of heterocyclic amines, especially when combined with soy sauce. Does that mean any marinade that includes anything sweet is out? No. Using honeycitrus juices, and other whole food sweeteners all appear to reduce HCA formation, most likely because of the presence of other bioactive compounds (phytonutrients and other antioxidants) in the sweeteners. Even brown sugar seems to inhibit HCAs more than table sugar (though not as much as honey). Soy sauce and sugar may even be acceptable components of a marinade just so long as you include something protective like ginger and garlic, as one study found that teriyaki sauce (which contains soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger) reduced HCA formation when used as a marinade. In that same study, Kraft honey BBQ sauce increased HCA formation, probably because it’s mostly high fructose corn syrup.

In other words, it’s not as simple as saying “this ingredient increases the risk” because other ingredients can counter or mitigate the effect. A good general rule when making marinades: the more herbs and spices you use, the more protective (and better-tasting) your marinade.

Okay, with all that info out of the way, how do we make sense of it? What are some ground rules we can hew to?

Use liquid whenever possible. Water, stock, coffee, wine, even a bit of citrus juice will help reduce the formation of harmful compounds. Generally, any cooking method is made more gentle with the addition of liquid.

Keep the temperature low when applying direct heat. Stir-frying, pan-frying, grilling – try to keep the temperature on medium-low to medium.

Learn to love rare to medium-rare meat and avoid medium well to well-done meat. Most epidemiological studies linking cooked meat to cancer only find positive associations with well-done meat. Besides, well-done steak is a culinary travesty and you should already avoid it on principle. Even when pan-frying or grilling, it’s usually only the well-done burgers that form lots of carcinogens.

Marinate, marinate, marinate. Plan ahead so that you can soak your meat in some antioxidant rich medium or another. Even ten to fifteen minutes before cooking can be effective.

If you don’t have time to marinate your meat, apply spices and herbs to the surface before cooking. Add some chopped garlic and ginger (or even garlic powder and ginger powder) to your steaks, some minced thyme and rosemary to your lamb, and cumin and turmeric to your chicken – or use them all at once! Even black pepper can help. When preparing ground meat, mix the spices and herbs directly into the meat, not just on the surface of your formed burgers.

Drink wine, eat broccoli, have espresso, and eat other mitigatory foods alongside your meat. Luckily, people on a Primal eating plan aren’t just downing charred steak and nothing else. They’re eating plenty of plants, too.

Regularly make complex curries, tagines, goulashes, and other stews, which incorporate all the protective elements in one tasty package: liquid, spices/herbs, low temperature, gentle cooking.

As much as I love a good braised meat, I won’t deny the deliciousness of a seared steak or crispy sweet potatoes. Here are a couple cooking tricks I’ve developed over the years that should reduce toxin formation while allowing you to enjoy crispy, browned foods.

Searing a steak or cooking a stir fry? Add a bit of lemon or orange juice mixed with spices and herbs when you turn the meat. The juice and herb mixture will provide moisture and help protect the surface of the meat in contact with the pan, you’ll still get some decent browning on one side, and once the meat’s done, you can let the juice reduce down into a sauce. (Extra tip: add half a cup of really gelatinous bone broth to the liquid to make the reduction even richer.) Will this eliminate HCA formation or completely inhibit lipid oxidation? Probably not, but it’s way better than just charring the meat dry.

When making any starchy root dish that involves applying high heat to obtain a crispy exterior, start with pre-cooked tubers. So, if you’re doing fries, cook the potatoes the day before and keep them in the fridge. Peel them, slice them into the fry shape of your choice, and lightly sauté each side in a stable cooking fat like ghee or coconut oil (or ghee and coconut oil!) over medium heat. Since you don’t have to worry about cooking the interior and it only takes a couple minutes to get a nice crust on each side, your cooking time is reduced by about 80% and the temperature needed is far lower as well. Fewer carcinogens and less lipid oxidation.

Ultimately, healthy eating is about striking a balance. You can sear your steaks and live long - just don’t do so exclusively or eschew healthy plant foods alongside them. You can throw some chicken thighs on the grill – but to mitigate the risks, just make sure they’re marinated.

Let’s hear from you. How do you cook most of your foods? Are you a fan of gentle cooking? Got any good tips for minimizing harm while maximizing taste?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. No incinerated meat?

    Well, there goes my Valentine’s day dinner plan…

    Actually, my usual cooking method for steak is to get a cast-iron pan really hot, then put the steaks on it (after having them come up to room temp), salt the steaks on one side, cook for a couple of minutes, flip ‘em, add herbs and spices to the other side, and immediately stick the pan and steaks in a 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes depending on how thick they are. The carryover heat on the pan puts a light sear on the other side of the steak without destroying it, and the oven cooking brings the inside up to temperature pretty quickly.

    His Dudeness wrote on February 5th, 2014
    • I do this too… I sear 1min each side however I use low 200 degree oven for 10min & I raise the steak off the pan on a small trivet you can also use rosemary sprigs to raise the steak sometimes add some ghee on top comes out perfect. Now im thinking I may be searing too hot I I do smoke out the kitchen a bit so will try lowering the cooktop and go for 2min each side 7min in oven maybe.

      Nathan wrote on February 6th, 2014
  2. Not giving up my weekly extra rare steak. Any other meat I marinade before cooking.

    bamboo wrote on February 5th, 2014
  3. I’m curious about oxidation of the olive oil in the marinade on the surface of the meat when cooking it. If you marinate meat with olive oil in the marinade and then sear or grill it wouldn’t the olive oil oxidize on the heat?

    Joshua wrote on February 5th, 2014
  4. The problem I have with sous vide cooking (which I would like to use) is that I don’t like all that cooking with food wrapped in heated plastic

    debbie wrote on February 5th, 2014
    • Aside from the potential health issues, sous vide cooking is impractical.

      Shary wrote on February 6th, 2014
  5. Way back in the day, another (probably crazier Californian resident ;-) got me into food combining. What came to me the other day, was whether food should, and would have been in days gone past, simpler across the board. We cook complexly for taste: but perhaps we should cook simply for health. Sounds boring, but think also of the 80-20 rule and other ways to eliminate toxins, for example being healthy. It came to me because I am having a (sort of) go at carb backloading, and so far it is going well. When trying to reduce AGEs, you can’t easily remove the proteins or fats, otherwise you might die or be a pygmy. So you take out the carbs. But what if you didn’t consume them together!! It seems that AGEs can taste good, so trusting your taste, cook the crap out of it but eat it for lunch with no carbs. I doubt Grok would be microwaving rice, preparing a complex salad, adding starch thickened sauces and marinating in sugar, whilst cooking a now extinct megafauna in its own skin over an open fire (after having not eaten much for three days). Then after the crispy megafauna steamed in its own urine, some hours later, a whole load of starch that Mrs Grok had been collecting all day. The insulin spike tops up glycogen and rams some amino acids into Grok’s muscles so he looks buff for Mrs Grok. As some traditional people have said: “Balance”, again, cook complex for taste: cook simply for health (you can even use the quote “if it tastes good spit it out” or more mildly “hungry people can taste the mildest flavour”). Food for thought!!

    Kit wrote on February 5th, 2014
  6. Maybe..thats…why! :D

    ninjainshadows wrote on February 5th, 2014
  7. Great info. I’ll make sure to have a glass of wine and veggies with my steak.

    Ric wrote on February 5th, 2014
  8. We are all so different in our food preferences. I grew up in Pakistan where we ate a pretty meat heavy diet. There were dozens of absolutely delicious meat dishes, all heavily spiced, almost always marinated and then very well cooked. Some were fried or sauteed, others grilled and some braised. Cooking well done meat that is also succulent is an art.

    I never ate rare or even medium cooked meat until I came here. I have to say, I still don’t care for it.

    There is a reason why you would be hard pressed to find raw or under cooked meat in hot climates such as most Asian and African countries. Cooking meat well greatly reduced one’s risk of getting violently ill.

    I don’t think I will stop eating grilled or broiled food after reading this article. I will, however, avoid charred meat and make sure I use spices and marinades and oils that are more resistant to oxidation at high temperatures.

    Sabrina wrote on February 5th, 2014
  9. High heat cooking is awesome, and tastes amazing. It seems from an ancestral perspective likely that Grok was cooking his meat at high temperatures over an open fire, as opposed to using his slow cooker, or at the very least had experience with meat in fire.

    I think it was Kurt Harris who wrote on this at one point, and discussed the probability, or at least possibility, that humans have some mechanism to deal with the nasties created by high heat cooking.

    And when looking at the big picture, where the majority of people looking for dietary improvements still don’t have the “big ticket” items figured out, how likely is it that switching from grilling to boiling is more than speculation about possibly negative outcomes.

    Focusing on avoiding the stuff we know is bad – excess seed oil, refined grains, refined sugar – maintaining a primal diet most of the time, and staying lean and strong keeps me going. Incurring stress about speculation of grilling being less ideal than boiling probably offsets any possible benefit of making the change.

    John wrote on February 5th, 2014
  10. Great assemblage of info – some of it has been around some time (the HCA link…) Here’s from 2009…

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB124389802616874315

    I like Sous Vide-ing meat (our friend Dr. Mike Eades’ machine). THAT has none of these issues, tenderizes incredibly and you can use marinades which in the case of Sous Vide-ing, aren’t needed for anti-cancer reasons, but just for flavor…

    Paula wrote on February 5th, 2014
  11. It is true that studies that claim eating meat causes cancer don’t bother to take a lot of things into account, but that is true of the studies you reference as well. As someone known for the “what would Grok do?” paradigm (an intuitive approach I very much support as useful), how could you think that high heat cooking techniques would really be bad for you? In the end, I think the oxidation of fats during cooking is probably the biggest concern for what I would personally view as overdone meat (I eat meat raw often, and prefer seared or grilled red meat to be rare), but what would matter in that case is not the technique used to cook the meat, but what the internal temperature of that meat ends up being, and commonly “low and slow” techniques of cooking (like braising, or true barbecuing) yield meats with higher end internal temperatures than grilling or pan-frying, at or in excess of 180°F, “well” above what’s considered “well-done”. I seriously doubt in the context of a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet that high heat cooking, and the resulting HCAs and AGEs, will cause cancer, but who knows? It’s certainly worth continuing to study, but there’s nothing in this article anything close to a smoking gun that it will.

    Sean Baker wrote on February 5th, 2014
    • Exactly, I was wondering where all the comments like this were – its like we were reading each other’s comments while writing haha (mine’s 2 above).

      John wrote on February 5th, 2014
  12. But this is with folks who also eat grain, sugar and other crap. With the increasing evidence that sugar is the culprit that turns occasional cancer-like mutated cells into tumors and full blown cancer, what does this mean to we who don’t eat that kind of stuff. Is seared meat as dangerous if you don’t eat it on a bun?

    Baerdric wrote on February 5th, 2014
  13. Whew!! I was afraid you were about to tell me not to eat grilled meat!! Btw I love your writing! I love how you always throw in the jokes to keep it interesting. =) Keep up the good work!

    Haley wrote on February 5th, 2014
  14. Good grief. I love Grok, but if he’s going to try to get me to slobber with him all over bleeding meat, he can’t come in the house. :)

    But this is very interesting and useful information. As is so often the case, it’s more a matter of “prudent avoidance” of a few major things–like high fire scenes with no mitigating accompaniments–than a violent top to bottom upheaval of all my culinary habits.

    Thank you Mark and all. Nicely done.

    Kay wrote on February 5th, 2014
    • +1

      Katerina wrote on February 6th, 2014
  15. I’m in the char lover’s club. I also use just about every other technique mentioned at one time or another – it’s all good. My beef – ha ha – with grilling/bbq is not really with the degree of cooking – it’s with the nasty modern methods. Gas is great, real wood/charcoal is king – but how many afternoons have you smelled the jet fuel wafting thru the afternoon breeze and said “Hey, Bob must be grilling this evening”….My dad got me hooked on grilling. Wings was his favorite. But he always used those wretched briquettes. Full of coal dust and god knows what. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer before 60, despite clean living and exercise. My guess is most of the casualties in these studies grill over nasty toxins and fry in hydrogenated oils.

    Captain Mike wrote on February 5th, 2014
  16. Lots of talk about Grok’s cooking methods. Hotsprings = sous vide.

    Crockpot? Clay cooking, salt crusted cooking, pit cooking.

    Catherine wrote on February 5th, 2014
  17. But didn’t Grok learn to first cook over an open flame? Not with a pot and pan?

    Mae wrote on February 5th, 2014
  18. Undercooking red meat (which I love unfortunately) significantly increases the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, a brain parasite which in some countries up to 50% of people have a latent infection. This has been shown to slow your hand-eye reaction time and increase your risk of being involved in a car crash (the military have tested this is Israel) – possibly a reason why cancer risk is higher with well done, you live
    longer and have more time for cells to mutate with age?

    Thoughts?

    JJ wrote on February 5th, 2014
  19. Just last week someone told me that well-done steaks was bad for you and I thought it was a bunch of nonsense. This is a great post and it makes me feel silly for doubting!

    John B wrote on February 6th, 2014
  20. 66 and counting … love a good rare steak, or poached salmon in herbs!

    primalgranny wrote on February 6th, 2014
  21. What about bacon? Is cooking bacon dangerous for your health? Is there another good way to cook bacon besides a frying pan/griddle? If not, should I just attempt to cook it less well done?

    J. Colby wrote on February 6th, 2014
  22. Supporting a family of 5, it gets very expensive to provide everyone with enough meat on a daily basis. I usually BBQ one a week and cook over natural wood lump charcoal. I get my meat from Winn Dixie but I can not afford the Grass Fed beef. Is Winn Dixie’s top grade meat considered “bad”. Is it considered processed just because it is not grass fed?

    Also, I assume this “rare” connotation refers only to beef? I cook my chicken all the way through as well as my pork, duck, ribs, etc. Is that considered bad?

    John wrote on February 6th, 2014
  23. IMHO, Grok would have cooked over an open flame most often. The less abrasive methods above would be rare if not impossible.

    Would love to hear Mark’s thoughts on this.

    Eric wrote on February 6th, 2014
    • He probably did. But what’s that got to do with whether it’s conducive to long term health or not?
      Caveman specutaltion only gets you so far. Modern nutritional science tells us a lot more.

      tito wrote on February 9th, 2014
  24. I often tell my clients that the difference between food that kills and food that heals is the cooking method. Imagine all the health-conscious people who think they’re making a healthy choice by coating a wild Alaskan salmon fillet with canola oil, cooking it on the grill, and then serving it with toasted “whole grain” bread with a soy/canola based margarine. Clearly the healthier choice would have been a rare steak wrapped in bacon!

    I’m also wondering how smoked meats cooked at a low temperature like traditional Southern barbeque would produce high amounts of HCAs. It seems as though low-temp smoking would actually produce few HCAs.

    Jamie wrote on February 6th, 2014
  25. What about pressure cooking? Didn’t see it mentioned, forgive me if I missed it.

    L. Carpenter wrote on February 6th, 2014
  26. Since we are talking age, 60 and 15 years paleo. Still have some health problems but they started while still a vegetarian. In general I’m told I look much younger than my age and my doctor is happy with my numbers.

    Baerdric wrote on February 7th, 2014
  27. Thanks for this article. I’ve been interested in more information on this topic and am especially relieved to see pressure cooking on the OK list. I’ve been getting into pressure cooking and was a little worried about the temperature issue. Seems like it’s more of how much the meat/food is browned/burned. I still grill but at much lower temperatures and try to keep it at medium rare with very little in the way of grill marks.

    Tina wrote on February 7th, 2014
  28. I can’t imagine eating chicken or turkey skin raw…
    Crusty skin regardless of which animal is to die for… literally and ironically =P

    Issabeau wrote on February 8th, 2014
  29. The NYTimes food person had Nathan Myhrvoid come up with a method for cooking steak which did NOT require an expensive machine….

    Use a thick steak (like fillet)

    Put in freezer for 1 hour on a cookie sheet

    heat a cast iron grill pan for about 10 minutes (this is the only hot part and is just to create a crust on one side). Salt steak on both sides, put in pan for 1 minute on the flat side that was on the cookie sheet.

    Return to cookie sheet, grilled side up.

    Put in the coolest oven you can manage. 250…. for 45 minutes or so.

    Steak should be perfectly tender and medium rare (or cook less for rare) all the way through.

    It is practically fool proof, so I use it all the time.

    Piper Kirby wrote on February 8th, 2014
  30. Interesting article about the red meat – cancer link:

    http://www.asianscientist.com/features/harald-zur-hausen-gyss-one-north-2014/

    Highlights:

    1. The same cancerogenic compounds are created when you grill or fry chicken or fish, but no association to cancer can be detected in the observational studies in those cases.

    2. The increased cancer risk appears to be associated only with meat from some bovine species. Countries which eat mainly European-Asian domestic species of cattle have higher colorectal cancer rates than countries in which other species such as yak or zebu are more commonly consumed. Mongolians, for example, eat a diet high in yak meat, but have one of the lowest rates of colorectal cancer in the world.

    3. Prof. zur Hausen predicts that a heat-resistant virus present in raw or undercooked beef may latently infect the intestine. The development of colorectal cancer could then result from a combination of the infection and long-term exposure to chemical carcinogens produced in red meat during the cooking process.

    (This last point contradicts that only well-done meat would associate with colorectal cancer. It’s obviously a complicated issue.)

    My stance is very mundane: the culprit is what we eat together with the “well done meat” – i.e. it’s a western food pattern with burgers, fries, sodas, and generally highly processed food with high sugar content which is to blame. Until proven wrong, I’ll keep this belief.

    Anna wrote on February 9th, 2014
  31. I’m confused. It says well done meat is more dangerous, but slow cooked meat is safer. Slow cooked / stewed / braised meat is by definition well done. So is meat only dangerous well done when grilled / seared?

    Katie wrote on February 9th, 2014
  32. This article is one of the more heavily debated ones, and with good reason. I do believe the primal lifestyle overall is a good example to follow, however, I see a few flaws. First, how primal do you really want to be, and how can we decide what time period of human evolution is the best example that we should be following to achieve the best health? If you want to truly be primal, you won’t eat meat at all, as hunting and trapping were advancements. Or if you do eat meat, you’ll eat it raw, as cooking over an open fire was an advancement, using a spit over the fire was a different advancement, boiling was another advancement… just as pan frying and grilling are advancements. So which advancements are the healthiest, which ones should be avoided, and how do you justify this determination? I understand you follow Grok’s example, but how can we say with complete certainty that this is the BEST time period or group of people to follow? Just because Grok did it, doesn’t mean it’s what we all should be doing. What about the groups of people from other parts of the world that ate primarily fruit and plant based diets with very little or no meat, or others that ate no plants or fruits whatsoever and ate only meat, fish, and sea mammal blubber and meat… and ALL of the thousands of other groups of people across the world with other mixed diets. So which one is of these endless varieties of diets and ways of living are the “answer”. Just as there have been endless different religions and beliefs, with everybody claiming theirs to be “the one”. We have to keep in mind that almost everyone (whether they know it or not) has a rather mixed gene pool from cross breeding, so we will never truly know or be able to achieve having a diet that nature intended for us. Perhaps the right way to live a primal lifestyle and to eat as nature intended is to find out what part of the world the majority of our gene pool originates from, and follow their primal diet (sounds a little bit like the blood type diet perhaps?). So ultimately, use your best judgement in your lifestyle and diet, because realistically, that’s all we really CAN do. You may never achieve a diet that is exactly as nature intended it, based on your genotype, and that’s OK. Follow Grok’s example loosely, because he is not necessarily the best example for YOU. Eat the way that makes YOU feel healthy, gives YOU energy, mental clarity, and ultimately makes YOU happy and stress-free, even if that means grilling your steak.

    Jesse wrote on February 9th, 2014
      • Thank you for the reference, Mark. I’m still relatively new to your site and haven’t seen this article yet that helps further define the primal blueprint beliefs.

        Jesse wrote on February 9th, 2014
      • I do still believe however, based on {many of} the comments in not only this article, but the others that I’ve read, that to no fault of your own, too many people lose sight of the point that you make in the article that you just cited, and remain almost obsessed with the “what would Grok do” idea. I am no smarter than your other readers, I just simply have my own beliefs, as each individual does. Having a figurehead, I agree, is very helpful, and possibly necessary to teach people about this totally different way of thinking about our diets. I simply believe that we, as your students, need to be constantly reminded that Grok’s example should be followed, but not obsessed over. Ultimately, if someone’s only argument is “Grok did or didn’t do this”, it’s a poor justification of why we should or shouldn’t be doing something, and proves their misunderstanding of nutrition as a whole and their general lack of open-mindedness.

        Jesse wrote on February 9th, 2014
  33. Grok did not have a crock-pot, oven or modern cooking implements. He had fire and maybe a stick…

    tt wrote on February 9th, 2014
  34. Hi,
    interesting info when answering other’s questions – thank you.
    What I’d like to ask, as topic has sometimes veered on to best (least harmful)cooking methods is.
    I just wondered about roasting green veggies such as Kale in coconut oil and vinegar in the oven at 150 C. for 15mins until slightly crispy. Absolutely delicious
    but worry from the health perspective of cooking like this and formation of AGE’s thanks for any input.

    Lynne wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  35. Why is smoking included in the bad list? According to all the temperature charts I could find, nothing gets smoked at over 300 F (well, there is one that suggests up to 350 for chicken and turky). A pressure cooker cooks hotter than most meats are smoked at.

    Does it have anything to do with time? I can my own chicken and pork (CAFO-fed unfortunately), which are in under pressure for at least 70 minutes – way longer than anything cooked in a pressure cooker. If it’s time related, could my home canned meats be bad for me?

    Johnny wrote on August 6th, 2014

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