2.6 million years ago humans survived by traditional methods of hunting and gathering. The men would search for fresh meat to hunt, kill and bring back to their families while women stayed close by and collected berries to nourish each other. Now, in the 21st century, humans are turning to these traditional methods of eating to give their genes a reset in hopes to combat the high prevalence of diseases that we have developed.
Derived from the Paleolithic era, the Paleo diet focuses on a few main principles of high protein, low fat, essential fatty acids, low sodium and high fiber intake.
Accepted Foods: Fruits, vegetables, lean meats (grass-fed), seafood, nuts, seeds and healthy fats
Rejected Foods: Dairy, grains, processed food, sugar, legumes, starches and alcohol(1)
With these principles, food companies have developed products to ensure an easy adherence to this type of diet.
Protein bars are great for an on-the-go or post-workout snack, but most of them are stacked with sugar, gluten, or dairy. Companies like Epic have formulated protein bars from grass-fed meat in combination with savory flavors, making the perfect, paleo-friendly bar. Appetizing flavors such as Bacon-Cranberry Bison and Sesame-BBQ seasoned chicken bars can be found in stores.
While avoiding grains, new gluten-free granola has been formulation in combination with fruits, seeds and nuts for a crunchy, flavorful snack. Paleo-friendly granolas are formulated without any refined sugars, refined oils, or grains.
With a lower saturated fat content than coconut oil, the once faded out pork lard is making an epic comeback. Along with beef tallow and duck fat, these animal oils are obtained from the fatty, adipose tissue of animals and can be used in cooking as a replacement to butter without any trans fats(2).
Aside from the taste, there is limited scientific evidence that shows lard is superior to butter for health benefits and vice versa. That being said, choose whichever you like more, but it never hurts to try new products. If considering adopting a paleo diet, these animal oils just made it easier to roast veggies, top as a spread on toast, or to create flaky baked goods.
While paleo diets are not right for everyone, there are a variety of diets that consumers are looking toward that are in line with personal values. New technology is giving us as consumers freedom to replace any food with a version that fits into our diet of choice, whether that be gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan or paleo. Consumers will choose the diet that is most feasible.
1. Bethany L. Turner and Amanda L. Thompson. 2013. Beyond the Paleolithic Prescription: Incorporating Diversity and Flexibility in the Study of Human Diet Evolution. Nutr Rev. 2013 Aug; 71(8): 501–510. doi: 10.1111/nure.12039
2. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 28, released September 2015, slightly revised May 2016)