In anticipation of this Thursday's release of Jimmy Moore's interview of Loren Cordain, which I'll blog about after I listen to it, I had a tidbit to report from Cordain's free newsletter, which I subscribe to.
The latest issue (v5, #16) is The Impact of Saturated Fat on Health. For those new to all this, Loren Cordain wrote The Paleo Diet, a book that when I last wrote about it, I lamented not being able to toss my ebook reader across the room.
I have a love/hate thing going with Cordain. I love the principles, i.e., the fact of our evolution, how long agriculture has been a part of that, and how such facts inform our logic as to what things we ought to eat and not eat for optimal health, lean bodies, and taking years off your look.
I hate his ideas regarding saturated fat, and unfortunately suspect that he takes this position out of convenience and then uses silly science to justify it. Here, from the latest newsletter:
The estimation of saturated fats from animal sources is more complex because hunter-gatherers typically ate the entire edible carcass,10-11 necessitating the calculation of the total edible carcass saturated fatty acid content.
In mammals and most vertebrates, organ and tissue mass scales closely with body mass. Consequently, the mass of individual edible organs can be calculated from body mass using allometric equations.12-15 Edible carcass mass can be determined by subtracting the mass of bones (minus marrow), hide, hooves, antlers, blood, urine and gastrointestinal contents from the total live weight. Edible carcass saturated fatty acid mass can be computed by multiplying individual tissue and organ mass by their respective saturated fatty acid compositions and then summing these values. The edible carcass saturated fatty acid content by energy can be calculated from values by mass using the cubic regression equations developed by Cordain et al.16
10. Thomas, E.M., The Harmless People, New York, Knopf, 1959
11. McArthur, M., Food consumption and dietary levels of groups of aborigines living on naturally occurring foods, in Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, Mountford C.P., Ed, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1960, 90.
12. Stahl, W.R., Organ weights in primates and other mammals, Science, 150, 1039, 1965.
13. Calder, W.A., Size, Function and Life History, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1984.
14. Meadows, S.D. and Hakonson, T.E., Contributions of tissues to body mass in elk, J. Wildl. Manage., 46, 838, 1982.
15. Hakonson, T.E. and Whicker, F.W., The contribution of various tissues and organs to total body mass in mule deer, J. Mammal., 52, 628, 1971.
16. Cordain. L., et al. Plant to animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in world wide hunter-gatherer diets, Am. J. Clin. Nutri., 71, 682, 2000.
Now, how likely does it seem to you that primitive hunter-gatherers generally ate an entire animal, less "the mass of bones (minus marrow), hide, hooves, antlers, blood, urine and gastrointestinal contents from the total live weight"? Or, in normal times, would they have eaten the most desirable parts (fatty!), discarded the rest, and gone on another hunt?
This analysis just seems too contrived and convenient, to me. It looks like science done for the sole purpose of confirming a bias. How about to you?
Ever seen how bears deal with the salmon run? They strip off the fatty skin, particularly the belly fat, discard the lean salmon meat, and head back into the water for another. I don't think humans behaved altogether differently short of famine or starvation. I know that, had I had reasonable means to just obtain more fatty meat, I certainly would have, in lieu of eating lean, tough, unappealing meat.
Later: Oh, he began the newsletter talking about saturated fat being linked to heart disease. I don't think much of such associations, given that perfectly healthy primitive societies existed on 40-50% of total energy from saturated fat.