Scientists from the University of Navarra and elsewhere found that eating a Paleo diet may reduce heart disease risk.
The Paleolithic or “Paleo” diet aims to address 21st-century ills by revisiting the way humans ate during the Paleolithic era more than 2 million years ago.
According to diet proponents, because our genetics and anatomy have changed very little since the Stone Age, people should eat foods available during that time to promote good health.
The Paleo diet includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Proponents of the diet emphasize choosing low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.
Overall, the diet is high in protein, moderate in fat (mainly from unsaturated fats), low-moderate in carbohydrates (specifically restricting high glycemic index carbohydrates), high in fiber, and low in sodium and refined sugars.
The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA) come from marine fish, avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the association between the Paleo diet and the risk of heart disease in a Mediterranean population.
They used data from more than 18,000 people from the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort study.
The PaleoDiet score comprised six food groups promoted within this diet (fruit, nuts, vegetables, eggs, meat, and fish) and five food groups whose consumption is discouraged (cereals and grains, dairy products, legumes, culinary ingredients, and processed/ultra-processed foods).
The team found that during 12 years of follow-up, there were 165 heart disease cases.
Eating the paleo diet was linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
When the team removed the item for low consumption of ultra-processed foods was removed from the score, the link became weaker.
The team also found that the link between PaleoDiet and lower heart disease risk was mainly present when adherence to the Mediterranean diet was also high.
These findings suggest that the PaleoDiet may have heart benefits in people from a Mediterranean country. Avoidance of ultra-processed foods seems to play a key role in this benefit.
The research was published in The European Journal of Nutrition and conducted by Victor de la O et al.
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