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Our epidemics of dietary disease have prompted a great deal of research into what humans are meant to eat for optimal health.

In 1985, an influential article was published proposing that our chronic diseases stem from a disconnect between what our bodies evolved eating during the Stone Age during the last two million years, and what we’re stuffing our face with today, advocating for a return towards a hunter-gatherer type diet of lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

What the rest of the great apes ended up eating: over 95% plants.

This may explain why we’re so susceptible to heart disease.

For most of human evolution, cholesterol may have been virtually absent from the diet.

No bacon, butter, trans fats, and massive amounts of fiber, which pulls cholesterol from the body.

Now this could have been a problem, since our body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, so our bodies didn’t just evolve to make cholesterol, but to preserve it, recycle it. And so if you think of the human body as a cholesterol-conserving machine, and plop it into the modern world of bacon/eggs/cheese/chicken/pork/pastry, well then, no wonder artery-clogging heart disease is our #1 cause of death.

What used to be so adaptive for 90% of our evolution–holding on to cholesterol at all costs since we aren’t getting much in our diet–is today maladaptive, a liability leading to the clogging of our arteries. As the editor-in-chief of the noted 25 years ago, no matter how much fat and cholesterol carnivores eat, they do not develop atherosclerosis.

You can feed a dog 500 eggs worth of cholesterol and a stick of butter and they just wag their tail; their bodies evolved from wolves, and are used to eating and getting rid of excess cholesterol, whereas within months, a fraction of that cholesterol can start clogging the arteries of animals adapted to eating a more plant-based diet.

Even if our bodies were designed by natural selection to eat mostly fruit, greens and seeds for 90% of our evolution, why didn’t we better adapt to meat-eating in the last 10%, during the Paleolithic?

We’ve had nearly two million years to get used to all that extra saturated fat and cholesterol.

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