The Real Paleo Diet Included More Carbs Than We Thought, According to Scientists

When you're picking croutons from your lightly balsamic-ed chicken salad while the table shares a blooming onion, it's fair of you to wonder if the science behind diets like "paleo" and "keto" is really legit. Like, if this is really how Paleolithic people ate, did they not have any craving for carbohydrates, one of the human body's three essential macronutrients? 

The answer is that fitness bloggers who encourage you to eat like "cavemen" apparently haven't kept up with the science, because a recent study on published in the journal Science has concluded from archeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were in fact roasting and eating plant starches, as early as 120,000 years ago.

The findings were shared, in an article titled "Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch." 

"New discoveries made at the Klasies River Cave in South Africa's southern Cape," the introduction read, "where charred food remains from hearths were found, provide the first archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were roasting and eating plant starches, such as those from tubers and rhizomes."

The charred rhizomes were found in Borner Cave, South Africa, and were eventually identified to the genus "Hypoxis L." This is significant because the herbaceous plant "Hypoxis angustifolia Lam." is aplenty nowadays, in fertile areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The authors of the study suggest that "in those areas and possibly farther north during moist periods, Hypoxis rhizomes would have provided reliable and familiar carbohydrate sources for mobile groups." 

Long story short, people have been roasting taters so to speak for quite some time, and it's unlikely that a few fitness gurus in the tribe rose to peak-physique by skipping out on starch.

The study's lead author Cynthia Larbey of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge said that, although "the genetic and biological evidence previously suggested that early humans would have been eating starches," this kind of research has not been done before. 

And although this is great news for the archeologists looking to further their investigation of Middle Stone Age communities, we should all just be psyched that we can stop talking about the "paleo diet" like it's a fancy, post-neanderthal diet hack, and start ordering fries again like the opportunistic species we've always been. 

h/t The Takeout

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer for Thrillist.