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

Top 10 Best & Worst Protein Sources (vegetarians take note)

steakYesterday, I discussed protein a little bit, and it’s such an important topic that I think it deserves its own Tuesday 10 (Read all Tuesday 10 columns here).

In all the debates this year about sugar (carbohydrates) and hydrogenated oil (fat), we forget that protein warrants consideration as well. The wrong proteins in the diet will quickly sabotage optimal health.

It helps to understand that protein is a macronutrient. What we call “protein” is, in fact, a family of amino acid molecules. When grouped together in various combinations we get proteins. There’s no protein molecule hanging out in that hamburger; rather, the animal tissue is made of many different amino acid building blocks. Protein is just a catch-all term we use. This is why vegetarians won’t keel over as people once feared. However, that doesn’t validate the popular myth that plant protein is equivalent or even superior to animal protein. Plant protein and animal protein is not equivalent, for several reasons:

  • Animal protein is more complete and contains more essential amino acids – the amino acids we can’t synthesize in our bodies and thus require in our diets for optimal health – than plant protein.
  • Contrary to popular belief, dietary animal protein is consistently associated with greater bone mineral density and fewer bone fractures (PDF), while dietary plant protein is associated with lower bone mineral density. Animal protein may increase calcium excretion, but it increases calcium absorption to a greater degree, resulting in a net positive effect on bone health.
  • Plant proteins often come with plant toxins, while animal protein is generally harmless. That’s probably why plant protein consumption has been linked to increased disease risk and animal protein consumption has little to no effect. Heck, the plant proteins often are toxins themselves, as with the case of wheat gluten.
  • It takes more calories to get adequate amounts of protein on a vegetarian diet. Living on beans and tofu increases the amount of carbohydrates in one’s diet significantly (and unnecessarily).

I hope no one believes that anymore.

Here are my ten ideal sources of protein, and their popular but inferior counterparts.

1. Winner: Grass-Fed Beef

Loser: Grain-Fed Beef

The average cow is raised on cheap grain that will kill it after about six months (they’re conveniently slaughtered before this happens – but not always). Hardly something I want to put in my body. Grass-fed, organic beef won’t make the vegetarians happy, but this beef is rich in beneficial fatty acids that are missing from the factory-raised cattle. It’s cleaner, healthier, more flavorful, and richer in nutrients. And grass-fed beef is typically raised in humane conditions. If you eat beef and can get your hands on it, grass-fed is a must. It’s getting quite easy to find these days, but you can order online from many outlets as well.

2. Winner: Pastured Chicken

Loser: Regular frozen chicken

No comparison. Did you know chicken has flavor? Yeah, bizarre, I know. Chicken raised properly on pasture and allowed to eat bugs and grasses (not shoved by the cluckload into dirty factories) is rich in EFAs and is one of the best sources of protein available. Also, if you cover a whole one in salt, pepper, and garlic, stuff it full of herbs, rub it down with grass-fed butter or olive oil, and place it in a preheated oven, you’ve got one of the greatest dinners in the history of the world.

3. Winner: Wild Salmon

Salmon 4Loser: farmed salmon

Fish is healthy, right? Don’t even bother patting yourself on the back for eating salmon if it’s from a farm. Farmed salmon is produced in a way that’s the seaside equivalent of a chicken factory. As a result, the fish are often sick and infected. They’re fed cheap feed that does not yield the desirable omega-3-rich flesh. They’re miserable and full of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Stick with wild only. Most restaurants use farmed salmon, so you have to get a little aggressive about this.

Notice a trend here with my emphasis on good fats in protein foods? Source makes a huge difference in the quality of protein you get. Meat is – or was – a very valuable food because it’s so dense in nutritious fat and protein. What an efficient, rich source of energy! Helpfully, our modern factories have eliminated the nutritional value and left us with weak, flabby, carcinogenic, diseased patties and drumsticks. Hey, thanks, guys. (Although we consumers don’t get off easy: maybe if we ate less…)

4. Winner: Tuna

Loser: fish sticks and popcorn shrimp

I don’t think I need to go into this one.

5. Winner: Pastured Eggs

Loser: egg substitute and/or regular eggs

If eggs were meant to be eaten as mechanically-separated, low-fat, chemically-altered whites in a carton, the chickens would have done it by now. But an egg is a chick in the making. It’s rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins, and – for the calories – a lot of protein. Doubly so if your eggs come from pastured hens. Things like Egg Beaters are the result of food manufacturers exploiting fears based on grossly inaccurate health information. There’s nothing healthy about such unnatural products.

6. Winner: Greek Yogurt

Loser: Low-fat, sugar-sweetened yogurt

No comparison. The Greek stuff is richer, fattier, more nutritious and lower in sugar. Again, when choosing an animal protein source, choose one that also provides valuable fats to maximize nutrition. Don’t go for the conventional animal products that are high in chemicals, hormones, bad fats, and sugars. Yogurt isn’t a staple of my diet, but if I eat it it’s certainly not a plastic cup of sugar-infused strawberry dessert.

7. Winner: Shellfish

oysters2Loser: Deep-fried and breaded clams and oysters

When anthropologists search ancient human coastal settlements, they invariably find piles and piles of discarded shells. Our ancestors weren’t gathering shellfish to make jewelry. They weren’t hoarding pearls. They were gathering them because shellfish, including clams, oysters, mussels, and snails, are sources of animal protein that also happen to be full of iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, omega-3s, and other marine nutrients that we need to thrive. And, since farmed shellfish are raised just like wild shellfish – in the ocean feeding off microscopic lifeforms – without any junk food input from humans, farmed shellfish are just as good as wild. Limit or avoid shellfish farmed in China, however, as the waters there run a little more polluted than other waters.

8. Winner: Whey Protein Isolate

Loser: Whey Protein Concentrate

I know, I know – I just got done saying how important it is to eat whole food protein that comes with other nutrients. So what the heck is whey protein isolate, a processed protein powder that’s anything but “real, whole food,” doing on this list? Ultimately, I’m about results. I’m about food with proven health benefits as shown through science, and the body of literature supporting whey protein isolate as a worthy source of protein is impossible to ignore:

Since whey protein isolate is higher in protein (the stuff that’s giving all the health benefits) than whey protein concentrate, eat the former if you can get it.

9. Winner: Liver (from grass-fed or pastured animals)

Loser: Tofu

Though it’s known primarily as nature’s multivitamin because it contains ample amounts of vitamin A (important for bone health and testosterone production), copper (important for heart health), choline (important for liver health), folate (important for brain and fetal health), and B-vitamins (important for almost everything), people tend to forget that liver is a rich source of protein, too. It might look weird to compare it to tofu, but since nothing else really compares to liver – and tofu is really easy and really fun to pick on – I went with the soy-based meat alternative.

10. What’s your favorite protein source?

Give me a shout, Apples. What protein do you favor? What have I left out? (To comment, simply click on Comments below to log in to the blog forum, or proceed directly to the forum.)

Note: “Cows’ milk is for baby cows,” the saying goes. You’ll notice I left cheese and milk out of this list. While I like a good aged gouda, I wanted to make this list as all-inclusive as possible – and potentially allergenic dairy proteins are not suitable for everyone. Raw dairy is healthy and enjoyable for many people who can tolerate it, but generally, I think quality meat works better for more people than quality milk. Cheese, the fermentation of which denatures some of the problematic components while increasing beneficial nutrients, is generally better tolerated than milk, especially aged cheeses like gouda. Cream and butter are fine in cooking (or coffee), because I don’t fear saturated fat, but I am concerned about folks who substitute nutritious meat with highly-processed cheese.

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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. I know you don’t recommend dairy, but I do use whey daily and feel great on it – along with raw eggs.

    Also enjoy some grass fed bison occasionally – it’s the best tasting red meat in my opinion.

    Brian wrote on May 11th, 2013
  2. How do you feel about pecans and almonds?

    Kate wrote on May 15th, 2013
  3. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain.

    Ally wrote on May 17th, 2013
    • Quinoa (“Chenopodium quinoa”) is a
      grainlike crop grown for its edible
      seeds. 😺

      Jerry Montero wrote on September 9th, 2013
  4. Hemp?

    Braxton wrote on June 2nd, 2013
  5. Hate popcorn shrimp, but I don’t see what’s wrong with fish sticks. It’s the only fish I eat since I find the rest disgusting. Also, taking salmon /other fish from the wild isn’t sustainable. Tuna populations are suffering terribly and animals like dolphins and sea turtles get caught in the nets. Stick to farmed!

    Also, PB isn’t toxic. -_-

    IfOnly wrote on June 7th, 2013
  6. Enjoyed your assessment.
    Still, I’d like to know what you regard as your Number One protein.
    Many thanks
    Seamus

    Seamus McCotter wrote on June 10th, 2013
  7. You do realize that no one needs animal protein, and one can easily get it from plant sources, and the protein from plants is far superior to those found in animals. Please, before posting something, albeit an old post, get your facts straight.

    Elizabeth wrote on June 23rd, 2013
  8. There is one major problem with this advice Mark. Most of us cannot afford to buy grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild salmon, omega enriched eggs, etc on a regular basis. The average family needs to tightly control their food budget. This is fine advice for the wealthy, but what are the rest of us to do?

    Shaun wrote on June 23rd, 2013
    • Shaun, the average family can do it:

      1 Take public transportation one to three
      times a week.
      2 Keep room temperature at 60-65 °F in winter
      and 80-84 °F in summer.
      3 Buy used clothes and shoes.
      4 Buy only essentials—children didn’t need
      cellphones 15 years ago.
      5 Keep not up with the Joneses; that’s envy.
      6 Eat when you are hungry, drink when you are
      thirsty.
      7 Buy all fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts, seeds,
      and gluten-free grains organic. We don’t need
      animal products; they are bad for the environment,
      bad for animals, and bad for us.
      8 Avoid these like the plague: junk food, fast
      food, trans fats, and soft drinks.
      9 Avoid these bad food groups at all costs: soy,
      peanuts, sugar, corn, eggs, dairy, and gluten.
      10 Try never going to a hospital by being healthy,
      which means buying organic. Buying organic is
      cheap compared to going to a hospital; we’re
      talking here about tens or even hundreds of
      thousands of dollars. I have never been to a
      hospital and the last time a doc saw my pee pee
      was in 1959, when I was 14. 😷

      Jerry Montero wrote on September 9th, 2013
      • Shaun, here are three more, to be read after (9)
        above:

        10 Avoid TOTALLY all drugs (legal and illegal)
        used recreationally, including coffee, tobacco,
        and alcohol…And no, I’m not a Mormon.

        11 Avoid going to stadiums, unless the event is free.

        12 Avoid going to beauty parlors for manicures,
        pedicures, and so on. (By the way, beauty parlors are
        full of germs that will threaten your precious health.)
        Women spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars
        a year doing that and buying cosmetics; besides
        cosmetics are bad for your health.

        Jerry Montero wrote on September 9th, 2013
      • Eggs aren’t bad. Commercial eggs are bad. Raise your own fruits, vegetables, meat animals and chickens. good for you, your kids, environment.

        Annie Sires wrote on September 9th, 2013
  9. I still eat peanut butter and regular eggs anyway.

    Tom Banks wrote on June 25th, 2013
  10. ORGANIC CHICKEN IS NOT THE SAME AS FREE RANGE OR OPEN RANGE CHICKEN. PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE THE TWO.

    Lindsey Stuvick wrote on July 2nd, 2013
  11. Generally pointless article for anyone but those that are up their own rear end. every food that is recommended costs much more than what is readily available to the average punter. This article glorifies the pomposity of foodies, so be helpful and rewrite and recommend good protein food that is affordable to all of the population please?

    Samwise wrote on July 19th, 2013
  12. It is amazing the number of people here who have no scientific or nutritional training whatsoever and who claim certain “facts” about food because they read them on some blog or some news article somewhere. Please understand that even if they have based such an article on actual scientific research, it is usually the findings of just one study and if you knew anything about science you would know one study does not a scientific fact make. In terms of actual scientific studies and nutrition, there are so many contradicting studies out there that it is hard to say what is a fact and what isn’t. One will say grains are bad others that grains are great. What you have to do is look at the ENTIRE body of scientific evidence and take the most common found results. Things are never proven with science, only supported. If you want to have a better understanding of nutrition learn how to read actual scientific journal articles, and research thoroughly on the subject – don’t just take one study as verbatim.

    Wade wrote on July 29th, 2013
  13. If you ever paid any attention in science class where they studies the food chain, you would have to wonder and when humans began eating grain or grass for that matter. As far as great protein? Alpaca meat. They are extremely rich in iron due to the fact that their red blood cells are oval and not round allowing them to carry more oxygen at high altitudes. Out paces bison. Very easy on the planet, grass fed….extremely low in fat.

    crosshaven wrote on July 29th, 2013
  14. Disagree w your issue w yogurt, mainly semantics. Most “Greek” yogurt made in the us is made “Greek” w/ thickeners, not by traditionally straining. So the us version starts out less healthy to begin with. I question the health benefits of strained yogurt, even made authentically, b/c what leaves is water + water-soluble nutrients. Not sure what these are, this is just a guess, maybe calcium, maybe protein?
    I make my own yogurt weekly using full-fat or low-fat milk and an active culture that I re-use, and I eat it on a daily basis. I think the active cultures are beneficial, I think it’s healthier than US “Greek” yogurt, and it is easy to make. No sugars or weird fillers or thickeners. Just organic milk home delivered from our local dairy.

    Sujatha92 wrote on July 29th, 2013
  15. Okay I have raised cattle my entire life. before I was born my father was raising cattle and I have raised cattle since I’ve been old enough to walk. cattle do not die of grain feeding after they are 6 months of age! This is the biggest lie I have ever heard in my life! Second of all, beef cattle are not slaughtered at 6 months of age anyway! You city people crack me up! Cattle will not die of being fed grain unless they have been eating grass their entire life and are switched to grain. Please do not comment on farming if you have never done it before. It just shows your stupidity.

    robb wrote on July 30th, 2013
  16. Nice list.
    I agree on most of it.
    I couldnt disagree more with the almond butter, tempeh and DHA-enhanced eggs though.

    Peanut butter isnt bad in moderation.
    Enhancing eggs with something like DHA isnt exactly natural and organic.
    Tofu is generally pretty damn healthy in comparison to many other foods.

    Dude wrote on August 12th, 2013
  17. Everything should be made as simple as possible,
    but not simpler. —Albert Einstein

    Let’s keep things simple. Simplicity is essential in
    life: 😺

    How To Live To 100 – Forbes (www.forbes.com)

    Jerry Montero wrote on September 9th, 2013
  18. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain.
    It’s popularity worldwide, although creating jobs for the Andean people, has also meant it is too expensive for them to now buy.

    Kune wrote on September 24th, 2013
  19. This list complete fails in taking into consideration the toxins, pesticides, hormones, bacterial load, fecal load, cholesterol, saturated fats, and other issues with animal proteins. The best sources of proteins are plant sources hands down! Free of toxins and harmful fats, and loaded with fiber which makes you feel sated. The questionable increase in calories is offset by increased feeling of being full. And beyond being selfish you are kinder to the environment and ethically on the safe side by eating cruelty free.

    Robin wrote on October 1st, 2013
    • And you think plants don’t have pesticides, toxins, pesticides, hormones, bacterial load, fecal load? And why would cholesterol and saturated fats be an issue? You obviously haven’t read the web site about fats…

      I was a vegetarian. Plant sources of food are just as bad if not worse because they hide the bad stuff (labeling, out right lies by the companies that sell) and because like commercial meat, commercial plants/grains have their bad things too. LIke too much sugar, salt.

      And if you think that no animals were harmed in the making of your tofu burger or chickpea humus, you don’t understand agribusiness monoculture and how it’s degrading and destroying farming and producing problems.

      AND add that most of the USA’s soy, corn, peanuts, sugar beets and wheat is genetically engineered and genetically modified. And we don’t know if that will make a difference in our lives.

      Do more research before you categorically call all meat bad.

      And cruelty free is not necessarily meat free and vice versa.

      Oh, and it’s fat that makes you sated, not fiber.

      Annie Sires wrote on October 2nd, 2013
  20. THIS ARTICLE IS FALSE FACTUALLY INCORRECT NONSENSE, TRUST ME I KNOW I AM A DOCTOR AND A FOOD TECHNOLOGIST, PRETTY MUCH ALL OF THIS IS TOTALLY INCORRECT.

    dr. watts (university of rading) wrote on October 23rd, 2013
  21. Mark, I always enjoy your articles. I find a lot of the paleo community to be incredibly bull headed towards those that don’t entirely share their views. I was raised a vegetarian, although I don’t really classify myself like that any more. I like the idea of primal eating, but there are a number of reasons I don’t follow it. I suffer from a strong penicillin allergy – none organic chicken/meats have landed me in hospital so I tend to steer clear of meat. I do eat wild fish, but as I’m in grad school I can’t afford organic meat and wild fish every day. Also, the ever increasing amount of people on the planet mean that eating meat/fish every day has a serious negative impact on our environment and fish stocks – it’s unfortunate but its true. If we could eat clean meat and protect our environment I would switch to full paleo in a second.

    Personally I look forward to the availability of insects for human consumption in the west (I like in the UK). I’ve heard great things about trials of mealworm and dragonfly larvae in mainland europe. These are supposedly incredibly sustainable and nutritious. Have you any thoughts on this?

    Helen wrote on October 29th, 2013
  22. Brown rice protein is complete, go to this website to see how the bioavailability compares to other proteins:

    http://goo.gl/OSuJpW

    and a good source of protein from a bar/powder form is:

    http://goo.gl/Q0LL03

    good article! Also, quinoa isn’t a grain, it’s actually a seed. Do some research on it…

    J. wrote on October 31st, 2013
  23. I can tell you as a dairy and beef farmer, that I have NEVER, had an animal die in 6 months from the grain I feed it. Now, it may be possible that happens in large commercial operations, but if you are getting your grain fed beef from a local source, there is nothing to worry about.

    Mike Robinson wrote on November 14th, 2013
  24. Where are your sources?

    Sean Fernandez wrote on November 24th, 2013
  25. You forgot two key sources of protein especially for Vegetarians – Quinoa and all kinds of Beans!!

    Jessica wrote on December 3rd, 2013
  26. I still do not convinced how whey protein concentrate is bad, what if we take pepsin tablet with each serving ?

    Amit wrote on December 13th, 2013
  27. The best protein sources are paired meals for a balanced intake of different foods that fill different roles. This is also the basis of a healthy diet. Likely people have heard that pairing vitamins/supplements with meals are important because they are otherwise poopied and peepeed out without doing much of anything else…this is why.

    Beef is perhaps one of the WORST protein sources…and most cuts are miserable sources in the sense that the amount the body can utilize is far from what is on the label. While certain rib/tenderloin cuts are good, the cost of low yield complicate them being a frequent source of protein for most people. Super fatty cuts (which are the cheapest priced) may result in less than 1/3 of the available protein being used. If you like beef, try buffalo or ostrich for leaner sources. Our GI systems do not process highly-saturated fats, especially in large quantities. It all just comes out in poopoo…often which floats if fat reaches a certain point of excess (and eventually in that triple bypass too.)

    On the contrary, salmon is probably the most complete and eggs are the best-utilized (unless you include whey protein which has an even higher BV) sources. Our systems better utilize eggs than milk…even human milk. The whole ‘eggs are bad for you’ is really a big stink and newer research shows eggs aren’t the terrible things they were once thought. A ham-spinach omelet is one helluva good source of protein and essential nutrients and is a surprisingly well-balanced meal.

    Predatory fish are generally excellent meat sources in general beyond just protein. Largely, they provide essential fatty acids omnivores cannot produce on their own and several other nutrients. Farmed fish can be as healthy as the finest wild-caught, or worse than fish from a toxic pond. Kind of like chickens, cows, pigs, etc., it completely depends on who is farming them and the practices used. Many predatory animals in general are good sources of lean meat.

    There are good vegetable sources of protein and there are healthy vegetarians…but the diet is more complex and certain strands of omega 3′s are far more difficult to get in quality. Also vegetarian diets and especially vegan diets are dominated by soy…not exactly a food we digest very well and one of questionable safety. But black beans are protein-heavy and great for the GI system like papaya and pineapple (all far better than yogurt!!!). Nuts have tons of elements we need and they are filling…there’s a good reason peanut butter is a preferred anti-starvation tool. Some dark greens enhance protein extraction of foods by as much as 2-fold and nutrient uptake multi-fold (like how a dark green high in potassium paired with milk can increase calcium and vitamin D uptake by multiple times than what milk alone results in.)

    Ultimately, the body’s ability to utilize protein is inherently linked to the intake of other nutrients…as an omnivore, we are blessed/cursed (depending on your take) with this fact. Survival depends on a diet with far more variety than an animal programmed to consume meat or plant matter only. Excessive intake of protein or excessive fats that are not beneficial fatty acids harms absorption and slows gut motility/metabolic rate/uptake efficiency. Consequently, it’s not as simple as ‘pick your protein and go’. Further, dark green vegetables are a staple of life…people generally don’t live well (or just die) without them. In an omnivore diet, the consumption of certain vegetables with certain meats act in a synergistic fashion. Broc, kale, collared greens, etc. is often paired with salmon because the nutrients in each boost the uptake of the elements from the other…rice or a grain is added due to the better utilization of carbs. You get more for your money. On the other hand, eat fries cooked in hydrogenated oils, down a 40 ounce Coke, and that salmon is going to go through you without doing much of anything at all.

    For most people in developed nations, the top concern by a landslide is a lack of healthy vegetable matter. It is not uncommon to see people who are class 2 obese or higher, who consume 3-20 TIMES the quantity of food considered safe, suffering from malnutrition because they do not consume plant matter with the nutrients we cannot survive without. These people tend to consume primarily heavily processed foods and huge amounts of proteins packed with saturated fats and hydrogenated oils 4-10+ times what is thought to be ideal and, consequently, they tend to die early.

    And then of course there is water…which plays a massive role in nutrient uptake including that of protein.

    So choose wisely :-)

    NickZac wrote on December 17th, 2013
  28. bad article

    German wrote on January 17th, 2014
  29. “Contrary to popular belief, dietary animal protein is consistently associated with greater bone mineral density and fewer bone fractures”

    The main reason for this would be COLLAGEN, which is built from the amino acid lycine. Collagen is the proteinaceous scaffolding that holds your whole body together, including your bones and muscles – it is in tendons, ligaments, and your skin and organs too. Check out how similar the collagen disorders symptoms are to protein deficiency! BTW… You’ll need a good deal of Vitamin C to make collagen… much more than the RDA amount is recommended by the Linus Pauling institute.

    Trillian wrote on January 20th, 2014
  30. Can you tell me best protein can effect on health or not if so then specify a reason if no then also specify a reason

    sourav wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  31. Hi there, I’ve been reading a lot about whey protein isolate powder and a lot of people are saying they get anxiety and panic attacks when starting to intake isolate whey protein, when starting to take vegetable protein powder that stopped (which I think they only developed anxiety due to all the other crap sometimes protein powder has like taurin).
    I developed Panic attacks but never had one due to whey protein powder intake in fact I think it helped me coping with that disorder.

    what are your toughts on that?

    Bruno wrote on February 6th, 2014
  32. I don’t see any mention of the cost–especially environmental– of producing all this meat you advocate. I have no doubt that a paleo diet is healthy, but I am also sure that our planet cannot support 7 billion people on a paleo diet without wiping out all remnant natural areas. I agree that if you are going to eat meat, eat free-range or pastured meat, because feeding grain to animals is insane from an agricultural sustainability standpoint (livestock require on average ten units of protein to produce one unit of meat protein) whereas animals are useful for converting cellulosic plant parts that humans can’t eat (namely grass) into food that humans can eat, and thus enabling us to support human populations off of land that is not suitable for till agriculture. Because pastures and other forages can be produced more sustainably than annual crops such as corn, it makes sense to rely on them for our meat production.

    But there simply isn’t enough productive land on this planet (not even land that is unsuitable for till agriculture) to produce enough meat for all 7 billion of us (and growing) to rely on it for our sole source of protein. Legumes, grains (yes, even wheat), veggies (dark leafy greens are especially great sources of protein), seeds and nuts must fill in the slack.

    Our nation’s nutritional problems stem from 1) eating too much processed food, not like nature made it, 2) eating too much, period, and 3) not eating enough diversity. Of course you’re going to have problems if you get all your protein from soy, or peanut butter, or wheat, but none of these things should cause you problems if they’re part of a well-balanced diet (barring, of course, conditions such as celiac disease).

    Eat a Paleo diet only if you are a narcissistic elitist!

    Lois Braun wrote on February 27th, 2014
    • What if we got rid of all the land supporting government subsidized farming of Big Ag faves such as soybeans and corn? There are two non-foods that could make way for grazing land. And yes, beef would not be on everyone’s plate. I just paid $13 for a grass-fed 4oz ribeye steak at the market. Delicious, but I could not afford to eat that daily. But there is sustainably raised pigs and goats, wild-caught fish, and free-range chickens and turkeys all vying for my dollars. I lived in Nebraska for several years and the hundreds of miles worth of corn (nonnutritious, sugary) and soybean (hormone imbalancing) fields are disgusting. I would urge too read “Stopping Inflammation: Relieving the Cause of Degenerative Diseases” by Nancy Appleton (PhD). Just because you are not throwing up when you ingest something, does not mean your body is happy with it.

      James Aragon wrote on June 7th, 2014
  33. This article should be retitled, “Ways to die sooner.” What a terrible load of crap. Enjoy several great years of health followed by a precipitous decline into disease and early death.

    Sober Thinker wrote on May 4th, 2014
    • Do not understand your comment without reasoning.

      Tommylee wrote on May 5th, 2014
  34. Awesome post. Been a big fan of your blog for sometime. Whenever I wanna find out about something I google the thing and then your blog name. You’re my first go to source.

    Kevin

    Kevin wrote on June 6th, 2014
  35. Wow! Just reading some of the high and mighty comments….Nothing like the topic of food to make the loonies come out. Everyone is so damn sure their opinion and what they’ve read on the Internet is the one and only gospel truth.

    Everyone needs to put down their (pitch)forks and knives and just relax. It’s all good, not everyone has to agree or think the same thing. There’s room for everyone. We’re all crazy, it’s not a competition. If you read something you don’t agree with you can just move on :)

    Christina wrote on June 6th, 2014
  36. I have never gone to an article or a blog that has this much misinformation all in one place! It amazes me how people can spout out about things they have never researched or information they are repeating from some very inaccurate information they stumbled across. There has been excellent peer reviewed research and information is readily available that most people simply do not want to hear…if they researched and listened, they might have to change their eating habits or misguided beliefs. So sad!

    Bonnie wrote on June 6th, 2014
  37. Everyone gives a negative opinion about so many foods one wonder what can we eat that will not be harmful. If I only had the food my mom and dad had, I too would live as long as they did. They raised everything they ate and lived to be, mom 96 dad 98. They died from old age and was never sick.

    Calvin parker wrote on June 9th, 2014
  38. I have to say that reading the comments in this section gives rise to my new belief that the Paleo diet may actually make one aggressive and mean-spirited. Besides the holier-than-thou attitude/altitude of the soap-box projectionists in the comments section of this blog, perhaps a different perspective on the message might be in order. People come to learn. And no one learns from derision. Pssssst — I would rather eat carbs with my meal if it prevents me from becoming hateful and toxic personality & mood-wise if I go all Paleo. I’d rather die younger and loved than old and very, very alone in this life. There is real ugliness here. Those of you who contributed in that manner might want to tuck that back in.

    KMac wrote on June 11th, 2014
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    Augusta wrote on July 10th, 2014
  40. The tribes that live on milk, live on RAW MILK, not the over processed crap we are forced by law to use. Raw milk is a great food, but it is illegal to sell it in this country.

    And I spend little more than half of your $1200 on food and that is for 4 people.

    Harry wrote on March 29th, 2010
  41. Buy a portion of a cow and then it is legal to consume your own produce. I live in PacNW and it is a common way to get raw milk.

    I also suggest more people should eat low impact animals such as lamb and goat and turkey and emu etc.

    Vivienne wrote on June 20th, 2010
  42. you mean TOO

    Andrew wrote on August 5th, 2010
  43. i agree.. but you also.

    nighty night!

    namerequired wrote on October 16th, 2010
  44. @ Petunia: I hope you don’t home school your children. They haven’t believed in only two kingdoms in centuries. In fact, domain–a new rank of biological classification that has three branches–was added over twenty years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_(biology)

    Additionally, most vegans don’t consume or use anything made from or by animals. This includes the items you mentioned, and I know many vegans who abstain from eating honey.

    Ash wrote on April 20th, 2011
  45. Mike: You are a great at stirring the pot (provoking anger)… only those incapable of thinking and defending their opinions make comments like yours…you lower yourself…(only my opinion)…and I am too old to use all those lol’s and such…you are NOT credible to me…if you have nothing better to offer why don’t you give us all a break and crawl back into your hole.

    Pat wrote on January 9th, 2011
  46. You and Mike should get together..

    Pat wrote on January 9th, 2011
  47. FYI, Chimps and some monkeys, esp. baboons, have been observed to hunt and eat other species including other primates. Many primates eat insects. There are many articles on this topic since Goodall first observed it in the wild.

    http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html

    http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=baboon+hunting+behavior&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart

    Mander wrote on April 8th, 2011
  48. what proof do you have for a much lower rate of cancer? and also there are much more diseases vegetarians can suffer from than people who eat meat, as to a deficiency of vitamins such as B12 which can result in greater risk of cardiac diseases, and vegetarian diets may be low in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, zinc, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and iodine

    jeff wrote on May 11th, 2011
  49. If the suggestion is that because primates eat meat, we also should, then we should follow primates on other matters as well ? Lets jump out of our house and start climbing any random tree and make some random calls.

    vegetarian wrote on July 27th, 2011
  50. “how patronising”…followed by one of the most patronising sermons I’ve read by a fellow vegetarian in eons.

    I’ve personally watched a troop of vervet monkeys track, kill and eat a dassie (an enormous rodent). Amazing what you see if you keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.

    The militants on this website take their eggs seriously! I particularly enjoyed the prophets of doom, and their Greek Chorus of “just wait…” regarding milk. Tré amusing.

    I understand Keith’s point regarding feeding the world, as I live in South Africa. But, at the same time, I know how easy it is to grow your own vegetables, and isn’t that a good start? Seriously, a few spinach plants, some butternut, cucumber and squash climbers, and a few tomato plants, and that’s the majority of your diet sorted for the entire family. Well…mine, anyway.

    Lindsay wrote on October 20th, 2011
  51. well her point still stands tho, who cares how many kingdoms there are. “they havent believed in two kingdoms for centuries….a new one was added 20 years ago” your logic makes no sense

    jeff wrote on May 11th, 2011
  52. anyone who does not get that the difference in life between swatting a mosquito and killing a bull needs to wake the fuck up- how about eating kitty cats and puppies? same thing as picking some kale leaves? give me a break -that Veggie Myth woman was one of those kind of Eco-martyr types…man-made aglobal warming and all that BS..

    madhava wrote on June 8th, 2011
  53. @madhava I actually see nothing wrong with eating cats and dogs. I wouldn’t eat someones pet but I feel that whether it is funghi, vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains or meat they are all living but die to sustain us.

    Part of life is death and consuming living things to sustain ourselves. That’s why I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan. It’s healthy to eat a well balanced diet including meat. We actually get more protein out of meat than non-meat sources of protein. My husband is a biologist and he told me that studies show that our brains produce a chemical when we eat meat that alerts the rest of our body so that it will get more protein out of the meat. Our brains don’t do this for other protein sources because we evolved to eat meat. Yes you don’t need to eat meat but as long as it is organic, not overly processed, not full of synthetic nitrites / nitrates and feed a more natural diet like worms and bugs for chicken or grassfed for beef then you’ll actually get a lot more out of a small amount of meat in your diet than not having the meat. Also it’s better to not cook your meat too much. I especially eat my beef very rare.

    I had a lot of stomach problems. I changed my diet to eat no meat, no dairy and no grains because some friends suggested it years ago and it just made things worse. I take probiotics and eat an extremely varied diet. My tummy almost never has problems now except if I eat something that is too spicy.

    Avi wrote on March 22nd, 2012
  54. not to mention egg yolks are extremely high in cholesteroil which ages you much faster i usualy use 4 egg and 1 sometimes 1 1/2 yolks

    mayna wrote on July 14th, 2011
  55. Lamb AAAAGGGHH! Said like Homer simpson. Lamb is the meat of the Gods. Literally, see Bulfinch’s Mythology.

    Joshua wrote on November 6th, 2011
  56. Seriously? You must be on the wrong page. Completely inappropriate. Whoever wrote this sounds uneducated.

    heidi wrote on June 10th, 2012
  57. You need to read this: http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-cholesterol-part-i

    Cholesterol in our food does not translate to cholesterol in our blood stream.

    Annie Sires wrote on September 9th, 2012
  58. Cholesterol is the body’s fire department. It is (80%) manufactured in the body by the body. It is the foundation for hormones. If you are trying to stop the cholesterol, it’s like stopping the fire department from responding to a full house fire. You have to stop the CAUSE of the cholesterol buildup (usually dietary inflammation often caused by wheat and sugar in the diet), not stop the cholesterol.

    Eggs also contain healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and proteins. It is one of the earliest foods and one of the healthiest. Eggs from commercial sources are filled with problematic balances of nutrition whereas pasture raised chickens who lay eggs are the way that god intended (with a little help from man).

    WeAllWantJustice wrote on November 27th, 2013
  59. Actually, Kylie, you are wrong. There are 100% animal diets. The masai, the inuits, and others. There is ample information out there that shows this.

    AND you can not survive on a solely vegetarian diet without B12, which is only made in animal sources. I was vegetarian for 17 years.

    Annie S wrote on March 8th, 2014
  60. Neither the Inuit or Masai ate an animal exclusive diet. Both consumed gathered grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, fireweed and/or seaweed. As far I have seen there has never been an indiginous human diet that was carnivorous. I don’t find a diet completely void of animal products to be optimal, but neither is a diet void of plants. The latter would most likely be more problematic with modern availability.

    I have a hard time comprehending why humans appear to have a need to vilify certain food groups. Possibly its the desire to obtain a simple answer to what is healthy, and what is not. Unfortunately, we are not a machine, we are a dynamic organism. When dealing with living organisms, there are rarely absolutes concerning nutrition.

    I agree some grains may be problematic in certain forms, to certain individuals. However, some animal foods may be as well.

    This article was written years ago, and the argumentative comments continue. This should be an indicator that there is no “right” answer. Never trust your health to the internet.

    James IV wrote on July 15th, 2014

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