2002 Paleo: More Wrong Than a Very Wrong Thing About Legumes

The other day I got an email (I guess I’m on his list) that there’s a launch of a brand new website and I put out on Facebook something like: The 2002 Understanding of Paleo Update.

His website says this in the tagline:

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., The World’s Leading Expert on paleolithic Diets and Founder of The Paleo Movement

I contend that both of those claims are false. Let’s deal with the second claim fist. Unless the good folks keeping the Wikipedia page up to date are way off base, Cordain is nowhere to be seen as the founder.

First popularized in the mid-1970s by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin,[12][13] it has been promoted and adapted by a number of authors and researchers in several books and academic journals.[9] A common theme in evolutionary medicine.[14][15] Gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin was one of the first to suggest that following a diet similar to that of the Paleolithic era would improve a person’s health.[13] In 1975, he self-published The Stone Age Diet: Based on In-depth Studies of Human Ecology and the Diet of Man,[12] in which he argued that humans are carnivorous animals. He noted that the ancestral Paleolithic diet was that of a carnivore — chiefly fats and protein, with small amounts of carbohydrates.[16][17] His dietary prescriptions were based on his own medical treatments of various digestive problems, namely colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion.[18][19]

In 1985, S. Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner, published a paper on Paleolithic nutrition in the New England Journal of Medicine,[20] which attracted wider mainstream medical attention to the concept.[21] Three years later, S. Boyd Eaton, Konner, and Marjorie Shostak published a book about this nutritional approach,[22] which was based on achieving the same proportions of nutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals) as were present in the diets of late Paleolithic people. It did not exclude foods that were not available before the development of agriculture. As such, this nutritional approach included skimmed milk, whole-grain bread, brown rice, and potatoes prepared without fat, on the premise that such foods supported a diet with the same macronutrient composition as the Paleolithic diet.[16][23][24] In 1989, these authors published a second book on Paleolithic nutrition.[25][26]

Starting in 1989, Staffan Lindeberg led scientific surveys of the non-westernized population on Kitava, one of the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea. These surveys, collectively referred to as the Kitava Study, found that this population apparently did not suffer from stroke, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, obesity or hypertension. Starting with the first publication in 1993,[27] scholars with the Kitava Study have published a number of scientific works on the relationship between diet and western disease.[28] In 2003, Lindeberg published a Swedish-language medical textbook on the subject.[29] In 2010, this book was wholly revised, updated, translated and published for the first time in English.[30]

Since the end of the 1990s, a number of medical doctors and nutritionists[31][32][33] have advocated a return to a so-called Paleolithic (preagricultural) diet.[9] Proponents of this nutritional approach have published books[34][35][36] and created websites[37][38][39][40] to promote their dietary prescriptions.[41][42][43][44][45] They have synthesized diets from modern foods that emulate nutritional characteristics of the ancient Paleolithic diet. Some of these allow specific foods that would have been unavailable to pre-agricultural peoples, such as some animal products (i.e. dairy), processed oils, and beverages.[34][46][47]

Those superscripts are all the many references, which you can see right here. So, uh, seriously, Dr. Cordain? The founder? C’mon, man!

Alright, now onto the claim that he’s the world’s leading expert on the subject. Well, see above, for one, but I have a question: has he changed his position on anything much since his first book was published in 2002? Isn’t it the same low carb, lean meats, zero dairy, grains, or legumes deal it always was?

To my knowledge, his entire schtick as concerns legumes is essentially 2002 verbatim but: Down the Rabbit Hole: When Phytate Becomes a Nutrient.

And now there’s this gem: Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit: Why the paleo Diet Should Not Exclude Legumes, by Hillary Hubert in Popular Anthropology Magazine, 2013. It’s a very short read yet still manages to pack in 27 references to the literature and other primary sources.

paleo promoters typically make two arguments:[1] Paleolithic humans did not eat many legumes, and[2] legumes have “antinutritional” properties (i.e., compounds that interfere with nutrient absorption) that make them not worth eating. Both of these claims are misleading. I am granting them attention because I find the basic notion that we should eat nutrients in similar proportions to our Paleolithic ancestors very compelling. There are valid arguments for eliminating dairy and grains from the diet in the various paleo diet publications, but legumes are unfairly targeted.

Earlier versions of the paleo Diet (e.g., Eaton et al. 1988; Voegtlin 1975) do not recommend excluding legumes. It is not clear where the idea that Paleolithic humans did not use legumes originated, but even legitimate scientists (e.g., Drs. Loren Cordain and Staffan Lindeberg) make this claim, while providing no appropriate citations. The pattern is to lump legumes with grains and then cite sources that discuss grains only (e.g., Cordain 2002, 2009; Lindeberg 2005, 2009). Ironically, Lindeberg (2009:44) writes that legumes were “practically unavailable in the Paleolithic” in the very same volume that Jones (2009) reviews the abundant evidence that legumes were an important part of the diet of Paleolithic humans, as well as the diets of other primates like chimpanzees. Legumes have been found in Middle and Upper Paleolithic assemblages from humans in Israel, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Albania, and Spain, in some sites being the dominant type of plant food found (Jones 2009; Lev et al. 2005; Savard et al. 2006). This is unsurprising given the vast geographical range of legumes. It is likely that neandertals used legumes as food too, and may have even cooked them (Henry et al. 2011).

[…] Nearly every article I have read claims that legumes should be avoided because of their “antinutritional” properties. This research is old by scientific standards. As understanding of their properties has increased, scientists have reevaluated the term “antinutritional,” widely concluding that not only do the benefits of legumes outweigh the negative effects, the negative effects are largely eliminated in cooking (Bouchenak and Lamri-Senhadji 2013; Campos-Vega et al. 2010; Roy et al. 2010). Humorously, many paleo Diet bloggers claim that Paleolithic humans ate their food raw, so would not have been able to tolerate legumes. Even Dr. Loren Cordain (1999) tends in this direction when he asks whether legumes could be “realistically eaten as a staple by primitive groups without cooking.” Traditional legume preparation worldwide involves soaking and then cooking (Bouchenak and Lamri-Senhadji 2013; Campos-Vega et al. 2010).

[…] [W]hen Lindeberg (2009) writes that legumes are problematic because they have phytates, substances found in plant tissues that inhibit absorption of nutrients, he cites three articles (the most recent of which is nearly 20 years old), all specifically about the effects of wheat bran on iron absorption; not one even mentions legumes. […]

To summarize their nutritional quality, legumes have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, hypolipidemic, and hypotensive properties, as well as are effective in prevention of diabetes, osteoporosis, DNA damage due to aging, heart disease, and other disorders (Bouchenak and Lamri-Senhadji 2013; Campos-Vega et al. 2010; Roy et al. 2010). Just do not eat them raw.

[…] I like to imagine that this negativity toward legumes is intimately tied to human dislike of flatulence. Why else exclude a food group that is so nutritionally rich, has a deep history of being eaten by hominins and other primates, is one of the most concentrated sources of fiber available to humans, is inexpensive and widely available, and is so very delicious?

“The World’s Leading Expert.” Uh, yea, got it.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. CW on March 9, 2014 at 13:31

    It seems to me the direction the paleo people are heading is closer to the Weston A Price diet, which itself seems pretty similar to this resistant starch based diet.

    • VW on March 9, 2014 at 15:22

      I don’t know, but I do know that I feel better these days, ever since I’ve been intaking food with an eye towards feeding my gut appropriately. Don’t get me wrong, I always felt great. I just feel a tad better with a healthier gut — just a tiny bit better sleeping, a tiny bit better digestion, etc., etc. It all adds up for me.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2014 at 17:13


      Ventured into the tablespoon of honey right before bed hack, yet?

      Funny, at this time of year, Hadza get 95% of their calories from honey (for about 2 months). Totally off the “Paleo Radar” (contradiction in terms

      Paleo: a few preachers; lots of choirboys.

    • John on March 9, 2014 at 19:34

      If you get honey with Royal Jelly in it, it might improve your glucose tolerance, mental health, and testosterone levels, according to this study- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499288/

    • bornagain on March 10, 2014 at 00:08

      I considered you one of the Paleo Preachers (I know you made no such claim – ever) and myself one of your choir boys (no sodomy involved). How times have changed. Praise Jesus!

    • Ed Watson on March 14, 2014 at 09:12

      Agreed. If we consider ‘last remaining isolated peoples’ of the earth (the people Price investigated) we may consider these people to represent the ‘evolved’ paleo eaters. No? I’m simply considering the notion that these people learned – throughout centuries – ‘smarter ways’ of preparing food that was available to them directly/locally.

      I think looking back to the ‘Paelo era’ is regressive – comparatively to examining what the ‘last remaining isolated peoples’ ate. There’s LOTS of speculation involved with the former people, NONE with the latter.

  2. Greg on March 9, 2014 at 13:32

    Richard, which beans do you consume regularly and recommend? I like red kidney, green lentils, garbanzos.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2014 at 13:43


      Well, my wife is Mexican descent, so it’s typically pintos. Lentils are about the best I think and red kidneys about the “worst” in terms of anti’s. I do some black beans too and when growing up, a common bean dish my mom made was white beans with some sort of ham or a ham hock in it.

      I adore garbanzos, perhaps my favorite. I like them cold, either with a 3-bean salad like dressing (but with onions, hold the kidneys and green beans). I often go to Whole Foods just for the salad bar so I can load up on the legumes, beats and many other things that would cost $50 to buy to make that salad. Costs me 5-10 on weight, and I bring it back and make my own dressing.

    • Wilbur on March 9, 2014 at 18:00

      A great source for Mexican beans is Rancho Gordo. The owner, Steve Sando, pursues beans from small farmers to promote genetic diversity. One of my favorites is the Robesero, a pinto-like bean. For some odd reason, I am not a big fan of black beans, but I recently had my socks knocked off by the Frijol Xculibul – a small, dense black bean with awesome taste. My favorite white is the Alubia Blanca. All the big runner beans are really meaty and tasty.

      He’s a great, generous guy with a great project going.

  3. GTR on March 9, 2014 at 13:49

    When you look at Art Devanny then his path to evolutionary started in reverse ways – no preasumptions that hunter-gatherer diet would bring good results because of some hypothesis or whatever. He was just creating a health-promoting diet, and it just happened to be similar to what hunter-gatherers ate.

    ” It didn’t begin as a caveman thing. It began as our family experiment when my 2-year-old son became a Type 1 diabetic and my wife developed the disease a few years later. I began to see how we could reduce inflammation. This led to more fresh plants and fruits for their high antioxidant content. Then we knocked down foods that caused [blood sugar levels] to spike, like simple carbohydrates and grain-based foods, which are also highly inflammatory. The evolution connection just happened because my anthropology colleagues told me I was eating a hunter-gatherer diet when I talked to them.”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2014 at 13:59


      The problem I have with Art’s approach (and he was my entry into all of this and he’s a wonderful guy) is that just because it’s a therapy for a diabetic doesn’t extend to normal people.

      One of my fav eye opening things from his original essay is his critique of chronic cardio and I believe he uses the analogy of a diesel generator running at constant RPM, arguing that the CVS ought to be stesssed, but acutely, not chronically. I agree.

      Same for BG metabolism, which is why I often say when a long term VLCer tries some starches and gets a BG spike to 160-180 or higher, it’s tantamount to a couch potato or a treadmill “exerciser” who closely monitors the heart rate so it doesn’t go above a level going out and doing sprints and getting freaked b/c their heart rate went to 250.

      Hearts and metabolisms both need exercise.

  4. Christo on March 9, 2014 at 14:44

    I love to soak pintos for 2 days then cook for 2 hours…so good.

  5. VW on March 9, 2014 at 15:16

    Dr. Cordain is an exercise guy by training, right? That doesn’t mean he’s not an expert on all things Paleolithic, necessarily, but still.

    King Tut on the old Batman™ series was a noted expert on Paleontology and I submit that he’s more of an authority in that area.

    • VW on March 9, 2014 at 15:19

      Okay, Google informs me that he was actually a professor of Egyptology at Yale University. Still doesn’t mean he doesn’t know about Paleo.

  6. Paul Doherty on March 9, 2014 at 15:44

    I was the Louis Armstrong of the Trouser Trumpet until I gave up beans.

  7. LeonRover on March 9, 2014 at 16:22

    Many legumes need preparation. Some do not.

    I grew up eating peas & broad beans (Vicia Faba or fava bean) direct from the pod – never a fart, tho’ I did fart from large helpings of Irish Potato.

    Never had canned beans until “Heinz means Farts” came along and of course this had the added tomato flavoured sucrose. These days, I have kilos of fresh frozen peas as a fallback staple.
    I occasionally eat canned organic adjuki or blackeye peas but never buy anything with added sucrose.

    In my opinion Cordain & Eaton ignored Eaton & Konners’ H G studies and ARBITRARILY constructed their Paleo Percentages. I was not aware that Lindeberg chose to follow Cordain along the anti-legume path. It was Lindeberg’s excellent Kitava studies which showed me that root starches traditionally prepped are not precursors to the Diseases of Civilization. I was able to laugh at Cordain’s pretentious put downs of Potato & Milk – I had thrived on same tho’ with much more animal protein (eggs, meat & offal) than my Pre-Famine Peasant ancestors.

    I am a fan of Bas Cuisine tho’ I have eaten Haute, European Peasant food if you will.

    You have done a good job of getting back to WAPrice principles by explicitly examining AND self-testing the nutritional gut principles behind fibre, low glycemic resistant spiral structures and and the feeding of my maternal microbiome, bequeathed by her to me during my vaginal (not Virginal) birth.

    Paleo(TM) is so faux: it makes foxes clench their paws.


    Rich, this is my style “Praise with faint damns”.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2014 at 16:49

      “my vaginal (not Virginal) birth.”

      You’re such a disappointment at times, Leon.

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 01:26

      PS My other big non-farty legume is the humble pea-faux-nut. In light of above one might claim I am nuts about peas!

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 04:12

      PPS You could start an underground blog titled “Free the Legumati”

      with Coat-of Arms incorporating a PeaNut.

      In 200 years a Don Braun would sell a film script based on it.

  8. John Es on March 9, 2014 at 19:34

    Is the beans or is it just me? When it comes to beans, I tend to make too much, and eat too much. The fact that I am now soaking them for at least 24 hours isn’t helping that pattern. I’ll keep trying, but, symptoms tend to return whenever I’ve tried reintroducing them to my diet. Like most borderline foods, I’m optimistic about getting them back in my diet, in moderation, when my gut flora are in better shape.

    • rob on March 10, 2014 at 04:18

      That’s the beauty of eating them straight from the can, automatic portion control.

  9. EatLessMoveMoore on March 9, 2014 at 20:51

    Wait…Jimmy didn’t invent Paleo?

  10. EatLessMoveMoore on March 10, 2014 at 04:35

    Hey, where’d Sean go?

  11. Ben Balzer on March 10, 2014 at 04:38

    You are more than harshly unfair on Loren Cordain.
    I think you’re trying to say the Jimi Hendrix didn’t play at Woodstock, and you weren’t there.

    What year did you start to get involved with Paleo?
    I got started in 1999. At which time the only reference for a wheat free Paleo diet was Ray Audette’s Neanderthin, (and some papers from the 1960’s by Dr Roman Shatin). Audette’s knowledge was openly built from interviews with Cordain, whose Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double Edged Sword is the basis for most of what we believe. This is anti wheat which at least most people agree on. (The Paleolithic Prescription was full of Pritikin type advice of eating whole grains, which Boyd Eaton still does).

    Cordain was brilliantly active and totally supportive of the any who were legitimately interested in his work. He helped many people on the Paleofood discussion list. One of the hardest working and most tireless researchers. And totally ethical and dedicated.
    It would be fair to say that without him, Paleo diet would not be the household word that it is today.
    Take a look at his publications, mostly in leading journals http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?orig_db=pubmed&term=cordain&cmd=search&src= The man is a publishing machine!

    If it were not for his efforts, Paleo would not be well known for another 20 years, if at all. I kid you not.

    Whilst not a doctor, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of medical issues but is always very careful not to step outside his own field of expertise. He tirelessly tried to get the medical profession involved, and then found that alternative health practitioners rapidly understood the principles and were keen to get scientific evidence into their practice. Doctors on the other hand, have taken it up much more slowly, but still exponentially.

    He has also managed to get many graduate students to study Paleo diet in his institute and others.

    Staffan Lindeberg is a doctor. And Lindeberg has also gotten many grad students, in his own and other European centres. These guys (Cordain, Lindeberg and their grad students (Robb Wolf, Pedro Bastos, Remko Kuipers) are the source of all power in the whole Paleo concept.

    Is the loosening up of Paleo diets, really just a marketing tool to increase sales? Let’s hope not, that would be very disappointing.

    Are bean lectins bad for you? Yes they poison T-cells and do many other bad things. http://www.bmj.com/content/318/7190/1023 Do many people suffer from autoimmune disease? Yes. Wouldn’t it have evolved out of us? No- autoimmune disease mostly kicks in after the traditional child bearing ages.

    How can we be sure if beans affect our immune system? Clinical studies are under way. It’s all part of the real Paleo science program. Until then we have to wait. And listen to the real experts.

    • DuckDodgers on March 10, 2014 at 06:32

      Are bean lectins bad for you? Yes they poison T-cells and do many other bad things.

      And that would be just awful if it weren’t for the fact that lectins are inactivated by cooking beans for 15 minutes with no residual activity left. Meanwhile, components like simple sugars can combine to any remaining trace lectins and diminish their toxic effect.

      And secondly, as Chris Kresser pointed out on a recent podcast with Robb Wolf:

      Chris Kresser said:

      …According to a paper called Lectins in the US: A Survey of Lectins in Commonly Consumed Foods and a review of the literature, they said, “Lectins are not exclusively found in legumes but are widely distributed through the plant kingdom.” In their particular study, they tested 88 different plants and found lectins in 29 of them and in some cases very substantial amounts and this included carrots, zucchini, tomato, cantaloupe, grapes, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, garlic and mushrooms, all considered to be Paleo-friendly foods of course.

      They also reviewed other studies, which had found over 53 various fruits, vegetables, spices and other commonly eaten plants that contain lectins. Their conclusion was that exposure to dietary lectin is a frequent and widespread event. So that’s another reason that lectin in cooked, properly cooked, legumes should not alarm us if we’re going to be consistent.

      The only lectin we might want to be concerned about is peanut lectins since peanuts are typically consumed raw and there is some data suggesting that peanut lectin might be harmful. There was one trial showing that peanut oil, lectin in peanut oil may contribute to atherosclerosis by stimulating the growth of smooth muscle in pulmonary arterial cells. But if we’re being honest, there’s other research including clinical trials in both animals and humans that found that peanuts and even peanut oil could reduce cardiovascular risk factors or did reduce cardiovascular risk factors in those particular clinical trials and thus may protect against heart disease.

      You were saying?

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 06:02


      “How can we be sure if beans affect our immune system? Clinical studies are under way. It’s all part of the real Paleo science program. Until then we have to wait. And listen to the real experts.”

      Special pleading, Ben.

      By function and definition, experts are superb at making arguments and presenting same convincingly.

      Usually there are more than one in a Courtroom trying to persuade a Judge (Civil) or Jury (Criminal).

      What you describe as real, is the use of the term for the TV genre Reality TV – which means unReal, hypothetical or Speculative.

      In the study you referred to I came across the following in the precis:

      “No pathogens were isolated from the food, but the beans contained an abnormally high concentration of the lectin phytohaemagglutinin.”

      The descriptive used: abnormally high.
      I agree that such concentrations are damaging. The factual determination should be: what food prep practices reduce lectins to a level consistent with this principle:

      “The dose (level) makes the poison.”

      Is your theoretical principle that: “There is no Safe Dose” ?

      I came across a study recently (cf stanheretic) which showed that this principle does not apply to radiologists who work with X-rays. (They remained X-radiologists rather than EX-radiologists.)

      No, Ben, WE do not have to wait, only you do, together with harshly LC have to wait.

      You quite neglect to recall the consequence of Keys’ advice to make the dose of saturated zero, until a safe level was determined.

      Coren does not convince ME and neither do you.


    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 06:05

      PS Addendum: harshly treated. Oh diddums.

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 07:17


      Further. Minimal googling reveals that Peanut agglutinin binds to D-galactose.

      The worst that might speculatively happen is that those with an adult lactase sufficiency should be wary of peanuts.

      Dear LC advises to steer clear of both milk and legumes.

      Personally, I am agnostic viz-a-viz “There is no Safe Dose” principle.

      Continue “duckin’ & divin’ “.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 07:28

      “Until then we have to wait. And listen to the real experts.”

      I agree. Google ‘legume eating cultures.’ Those are the “real experts.”

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 07:48

      In addition to Keys:

      “The National Heart Savers Association (NHSA), campaigned vigorously against corporations’ use of saturated fats, endorsing trans fats as a healthy, or healthier, alternative. ”

      cf http://www.academia.edu/1429225/The_Perfect_Solution_How_Trans_Fats_Became_the_Healthy_Replacement_for_Saturated_Fats

    • Ben Balzer on March 11, 2014 at 03:54

      A nice read if you want to understand a bit more about antinutrients. Beans have them in many categories. This book, like most of the research is agricultural and focused on yield and profit, rather than health. Beans have other categories of toxins that affect health like oestrogenic compounds.
      Everyone’s favourite legume is soy. Here is some interesting reading:

    • Ben Balzer on March 11, 2014 at 03:55


    • Ben Balzer on March 11, 2014 at 04:07

      Lectins are one of a suite of toxins in legumes. Oestrogens, protease inhibitors, saponins. There are probably others, I doubt the research for health related effects has been very systematic, as it has mostly been agricultural and related to yield and profit.

      50 million Americans have autoimmune diseases, yet barely any hunter gatherers do. While many factors must be involved, it appears likely that a T-Cell poison could be involved. Some lectins are T-cell poisons.

      Lectins are a diverse range of proteins, which bind specific carbohydrate. They have many different purposes, many are simply “housekeeping” lectins. However legumes, cereals and potatoes have high concentrations of “defensive” lectins designed to poison predators bacteria etc. Lectins are in most natural foods including meats, and plant foods, but most of them are harmless. TO BE SURE when lectins are discussed, it is generally to refer to toxic lectins, though people don’t usually make that technical distinction. There is no health issue with housekeeping lectins that do various functions in the plant or animal, so they are rarely discussed, other than in the introduction of a scientific review. So that first paragraph you quoted from Chris shows that he is a little confused, or trying to baffle the audience.

    • DuckDodgers on March 11, 2014 at 05:36

      Lectins are one of a suite of toxins in legumes. Oestrogens, protease inhibitors, saponins. There are probably others, I doubt the research for health related effects has been very systematic, as it has mostly been agricultural and related to yield and profit.

      Dr. Balzer, this is what Paleo fear-mongerers have been doing for awhile now — making a blanket statement about the toxins in raw or undercooked legumes and embellishing the strength of those toxins in legumes that many ancestral cultures have thrived once they figured out how to selectively breed them and prepare them. A more balanced article is one by Kaayla Daniel:


      Daniel is focussing on soy, which we all know is one of the more toxic plants.

      WAPFers are well aware of these toxins and that’s why they tend to favor the legumes that are lowest in these toxins, particularly after proper preparation. I personally don’t eat many legumes right now, but I doubt fear-mongering about alleged toxicity in all legumes is the right way to approach this. Not all legumes are created the same and it should be more than clear that cultures have thrived on some of these lower-toxin legumes.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2014 at 06:36

      Here’s an example of 2 people, both in their 80’s, my parents-in-law, who’ve eaten pinto beans every day of their lives. Lucia doesn’t soak them, either, in spite of my admonishments.

      Go see how torn up with “toxins” they look to be on their 60th wedding anniversary just a few months back.


      Sam’s mom lived into her mid-90s (dad mid-80s, and he was a boozer).

    • gabriella kadar on March 11, 2014 at 06:48

      Dr. Balzer,

      ’50 million Americans have autoimmune diseases, yet barely any hunter gatherers do. While many factors must be involved, it appears likely that a T-Cell poison could be involved. Some lectins are T-cell poisons’

      Do you have any comprehensive citations for the hunter-gatherer group? But you have to make sure you also have data on 0 to 5 year mortality and data on all cause mortality in adults. In today’s world, with the technology we have, what is the sample size of hunter-gatherers?

    • pzo on March 11, 2014 at 13:19

      “Peanuts are typically consumed raw?” Say wha’? Raw peanuts are unpalatable. Boiled peanuts used to be a staple in the South, and we all know roasted peanuts.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2014 at 16:20


      Blister peanuts. Soaked, then roasted. Killer. TJ’s carries them.

      I have also had the soaked peanuts in the shell, though I can’t recall when or where, liked those too. I love peanuts, and to my knowledge never gave me a prob, though I learned to stay away from dry roasted. Get them in the shell, so you at least have a little work.

  12. Stu Ward on March 10, 2014 at 04:51

    Your Wikipedia rant failed to mention that Cordain was referenced 32 times, more than Eaton at 31 and Lindberg at 22. Also, as far as I can tell, Cordain was the first to use the name “Paleo Diet” although it was just a variation on previous names.

    Still, I agree with your main point that the necessity of cooking legumes does not mean that they are not paleo.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 07:37

      My Wikipedia rant, as you call it, was a quote of the _history_ of the movement in the face of the claim that Cordain was the originator. My claim is that his claim on that score is false, obviously so.

      You and he can play all the word games you like, but being the originator of capital-T “The Paleo Diet” is not the same as being the originator of the idea that people out to eat within a framework of Paleolithic understanding, which I believe it what Cordain is implying.

  13. john on March 10, 2014 at 05:49

    Dr Balzer,

    We need pioneers like Loren .

    I assume you don’t support Animals Australia.

    The animal farming system that is needed to supply your envisaged protein dietary interests via animal tissue as the intermediary between the green leaf and and human for the 5 billion plus humans on this planet gives rise to this http://www.vegan-fighter.com/what-you-dont-want-to-see.html

    If you are not going to give access to this protein level for all humans, you are being elitist.

    Now that we live in the space age with wonderful tools of analysis, I’d rather see you propose research pathways on microbiomes that successfully processes legumes . Or how chlorine compounds or mycobacteria in aerosols generated during showering (which to my limited knowledge were not around in jungle jim times), might be confounding factors in mycobacterial infections and impaired microbiomes. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140228103512.htm

  14. Rafael on March 10, 2014 at 07:06

    What about saponins and protease inhibitors? Are they not of a concern with legumes as well???

    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 11:49


      You’re troubled over “waters?”

      Here allow me to help.

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 11:04


      Casual reading at paleo sites shows that Fried Skins (potato skins or po’ skins) have up to 1450 mg/kg of saps (chaconine & solanine) and Chips with Skins with up to 720 mg/kg. By contrast, Boiled Peeled comes in at 42 mg/kg and New at 34 mg/kg.

      So the skins are the issue. My father (Irish) always peeled his spuds and only relaxed this rule for Early News. (Any green skin was ceremoniously binned.)

      This link
      shows that protease inhibitors show some effects of reducing appetite, in rats.

      I came across po ‘skins in TGIF in 1980’s boomtown Houston where Okie drillers met Houston secretaries and later took ’em to mechanical bull rodeo in dancehalls.

      It was all part of a Texas Culture which also included the rise of various FajitaMargaritaVilles immortalised by wasted James Buffett –

      You may be sure that Jimmy B (or an Okie driller) would regard pro-tease inhibitors as an advantage in po’ skins. served to Houston secretaries.

      Oh, and I quickly learned not to confuse po’ skins with po’ boys – to avoid being boxed in troubled waters. :) :)



    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 11:50

      …Oh, BTW, Leon. “It’s a miracle.”

    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 12:56

      Nice one, Rich: Waters always appealed to the Lunatic in my Head.

      This take is go-o-o-od.

      It has that fin-de-siecle angst of Eagles’ “The Last Resort”.


    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 13:03

      Yep, & Waters whips the Crown from .. .. ..



    • LeonRover on March 10, 2014 at 15:41

      On a reprise:

      Same chords as Last Resort


      Subtext of lyrics – “Flink Poid lids PianoMan Lloyd in Gethsemane”

    • Ben Balzer on March 11, 2014 at 04:17

      Indeed. Legumes hold a suite of toxins.
      Prof Cordain wrote recently wrote a fresh rebuttal to legumes with 79 scientific references that might interest you, and comprehensively covers their issues.

    • LeonRover on March 11, 2014 at 10:47

      Cordain’s own summary:

      ” If a food or food type doesn’t agree with you or makes you feel ill or unwell, don’t eat it. I should have listened to my own advice 25 years ago when I was experimenting with vegetarian diets. Whenever I ate beans or legumes, I experienced digestive upset, gas and frequently had diarrhea. ”

      I most heartily agree: it the basic reason why any food item might be avoided by any individual.

      More specifically, the most recent bean, soy, has not been prepared by N American processors to produce what traditional Korean preparation does. Phyto-oestrogens from soy bean, protein extender, soy milk etc. However, this post has a pictue snap-beans, the humble shell with undeveloped seed of a Vicia faba. The message is that Pisum and baby V. Faba are as nasty as soy.

      Now, if Cordain had called this The Road-Kill Diet and was promoting NeanderThin, it would at least be an a cracker of a modern authentic Hunter Gatherer Diet – but Dear Ozzie would not promote it.

      As many have said befaux, FauxPaleo.

    • LeonRover on March 11, 2014 at 10:51

      PS Erratum:

      Phyto-oestrogens from soy bean, protein extender, soy milk etc. is now rife among vegans.

  15. Sidney Phillips on March 10, 2014 at 09:29

    I suspected most of the paleo fanatics didn’t have a clue about legumes just based on empirical evidence: Indians have been consuming lentils (with rice) for thousands of years with no problems, and they are some of the smartest people I know!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 10:41


      Our auto mechanic, for my X-5 and Bea’s Infinity FX-35 is Arturo, and true Indian Chief with grey long hair from Bolivia, I think. Smart as a fuckin’ whip, lean, muscular, Adonis actually. I’ll take him over any dealership any day. He’s been in the business 30 years and can do anything and more that they can do. Just had Bea’s car in the shop al day Saturday for rear shocks, read brake rotors and pads, and a fuel service on the injectors.

      Dealership said she needed to replace a leaky valve cover ($1,300, mostly labor, of course), but I looked and the block and exhaust manifold are clean. He looked, said there’s slight oozing, but not even at the level of a drip. If it drips, it would drip onto the hot exhaust manifold, so there is a concern (engine fires suck). But, we decided to wait. He tightened the bolts a bit, and if we have to do it, $800.

  16. tatertot on March 10, 2014 at 10:23

    I have a feeling the next domino to fall will be corn.

    Corn as eaten by our paleo ancestors was nixtamalized, http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/make-masa-nixtamalized-corn-zmaz04amzsel.aspx

    I would love to find some heirloom, non-GMO corn and eat it like they did 3000 years ago. Lots of early societies thrived on it for thousands of years. It wasn’t until it was dried, ground into flour, and processed into fast-food that it became an unhealthy thing to eat.

    Corn is so easily manipulated, too bad we couldn’t have used that trait for good instead of using it to create built-in pesticides.

    Maybe Book #2 can be “beans, corn, and rice”

    • John Es on March 10, 2014 at 12:11

      I was pretty interested in this entry on your RS PDF:
      Arepas (hi-amylose corn flatbread) – 32

      I couldn’t find anything really conclusive, googling for high amylose corn.

      I tried getting some polenta integrale, locally, here in Phoenix, but, wasn’t successful, and lost interest. I did consider getting it from Anson Mills

      I was interested in making this recipe for “No-stir polenta”

      It might be better to get whole kernel from a source offering flint or dent varieties and nixtamalize it.

    • Ellen on March 10, 2014 at 16:48


      Harvey got some Nal-tel corn from William Woys Weaver, which he grew last summer and has been feeding to the chickens. A few weeks ago I decided it was the next dragon to slay so ground it up and made some polenta. Next up will do the soaking bit.

      Anyway, we have some seed we could send you now, if you like

    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 10:46


      I can eat corn tortillas all day long, zero issues. One flour tortilla gives me heartburn and makes me congested, gives me a runny nose and if i persist, sneezing.

      I have a bag of frozen non-GMO organic corn in the freezer from WF, also a can of same, and I intend to make my own corn nuts with both coconut oil and perhaps red palm. May also try high oleic sunflower (selective bread, not GMO).

      Think is, looking into it, there’s a special huge kernel corn they use to make corn nuts. We’ll see how it works out.

      BTW, back when I was a new Ensign in various schools in San Diego, I noticed I had put on about 10 unwanted pounds and went on a vending machine corn nut diet for 2-3 weeks and lost it all. :)

    • DuckDodgers on March 10, 2014 at 11:00

      There’s also a renewed interest in “heritage” corn that’s re-emerging in farmer’s markets and small-batch tortilla making. The “supersweet” variety corn that’s widely available today was hybridized in 1961 and bred for sales. It’s a far cry from the ancestral maize that people used to eat.


      Still, I think you’re right. It’s not a big deal. Just don’t turn it into corn oil and such :)

    • John Es on March 10, 2014 at 13:35

      I thought this was interesting:

      The Masa Harina says it is made from non-GMO corn.

    • gabriella kadar on March 10, 2014 at 17:04

      Richard, just don’t bust a tooth on them corn nuts. Your teeth are a bit older now than when you were an Ensign.

    • tatertot on March 10, 2014 at 17:22

      Ellen – Thanks for the offer. I have a hard time growing corn with our long days and short season. Have you looked into soaking in lime (not the fruit) water to nixtamalize?

  17. whatever on March 10, 2014 at 10:48

    Dudes, when Cordain rails against legumes, he really means just peanuts. Cuz Americans eat peanut everything. He’s got no problems with soaked lentils. They can’t cause a problem in the diet since Americans hardly eat any of them anyway. Ask him!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2014 at 11:12

      “Dudes, when Cordain rails against legumes, he really means just peanuts. ”

      False to fact, and those three words were more than you deserve. You’re not up to speed. Hit the links, look at his diatribe agains Kresser’s Dr. Oz appearance, realize you just pulled down your pants in public for everyone to laf at.


    • LeonRover on March 11, 2014 at 03:33

      Whatever, wotevah.

      I just now asked him, LC that is, by looking at his website.

      There are 10 strains of Phaseolii in his list, Vicia faba occurs once, Pisum once.

      Now, if his recommendations are that some avoid Phaseolus, Soy and Vicia faba that would be one thing.

      However the other part of his speculation centres on lack of adaptation in the genetic inheritance of particular cultures to particular foods.

      He argues against Vicia faba on the basis that those with North African heritage exhibit mal reactions to Vicia. That is an argument advice to North Africans. On the basis that he himself bad reactions to Phaseolus that all others should avoid it too.

      The essence of his methodology is that “All legumes are bad for All Cultures because Not All Cultures are adapted to Some legumes.”

      He uses a similar style w r t Tubers, via the Saponin content of Potato Skins.

      These are mistakes in his use of Inductive Logic and not bothering to check that when one counts the horses teeth, that one ensures that ceteris is indeed paribus.

  18. gabriella kadar on March 11, 2014 at 06:12

    Dr. Balzer,


    It would seem there are two major factors in C sections: neither appears to be about height and pelvic floor height.

    Arrested labour necessitating C section appears to be more common in teenage pregnancies and women who are 38+ years old. (Perinatal death rates rose during the later parts of the Roman Empire when it became socially acceptable for girls to be married off at age 9. These sorts of heinous practices are still present today in some countries like Yemen. The minimum age at marriage is available on line, country by country and, in the case of the United States, state by state level.)

    When we consider diet and reproduction in a vegetarian society, we need to look at socio-adaptive factors. Due to relatively low nutritional status, girls are married off early and breed younger. For example the average age at menopause in India is 41 years due to poor nutritional status. So, the risk of pregnancy and therefore complications during birth, is reduced in older groups.

    We also need to consider habitual posture. These people do not sit in chairs. They squat on their haunches. This not only makes evacuating the bowels easier, but also giving birth. So, no, pelvic floor exercises are not the way to go. Habitual use of the body is of assistance.

    The Hindu diet is very heavy in pulses and grains – all of which contain large amounts of phytic acid and lectins. Somehow this has not prevented the population in India from booming. Recent reduction in breeding rates currently recorded indicate use of contraceptives to limit family size and variable state by state sex selective abortions and the post natal deaths of unreported girl babies. This is highest among the Sikh communities.

    The caesarean section rates in the developed world are frequently not necessitated by medical complications. However, the average age at which women are giving birth has increased and the numbers of nulliparous older women giving birth is very high. The numbers of babies born because of reproductive technology must also be factored into statistics on C-sections. The mothers of these babies have various underlying factors and conditions which without high tech assistance, would be unable to carry a pregnancy.

    I would suggest that your tossing a bushel of apples and oranges at this subject requires refinement.

  19. James N. on March 10, 2014 at 20:45

    I can’t eat corn meal without experiencing blood sugar problems. However, I can eat corn on the cob and masa harina (lime treated corn) without any issues.

  20. Ataraxia on March 10, 2014 at 22:41

    Let me see if I understand the die-hard ‘orthodox paleo’ reasoning, the one that automatically excluded all foods that are unique to agriculture. Not the ‘catholic paleo’ that uses the concepts of evolutionary adaptation and the related science to inform current dietary selections.

    So if I’ve been reading correctly, die-hards base their choices on the following facts :
    1. that for the vast majority of their evolution, time-wise, humans adapted to a paleolithic-era diet that does not include a number of foods which only appeared with the neolithic advent of agriculture, at least not in any meaningful quantities. These include grains, legumes, dairy.
    2. furthermore, it is before agriculture, it is in fact sometime during paleolithic evolution, that humans developed a big brain, among other adaptations.

    So far, so good.

    Here’s where I lose the connection to the notion that therefore everything uniquely agricultural is either bad or suspect at best.
    That brain is what enabled agriculture and the specializations/civilizations/population-densities that foster learning and so foster brain-driven adaptations of the environment to the body.
    The brain-driven behavioral adaptations happen in fact at an exponential rate compared to natural selection-driven adaptions of the body to the natural environment.

    How then, by what reasoning exactly, are humans now supposed to exclude the ancestral civilization-driven learning, the ancestral civilization-driven practices that allowed people to ‘survive’ on agricultural products and eventually to thrive on them?

    Humans are the only animals that significantly modify their environment to suit their needs, as opposed to animals in the wild where the environment modifies the animal. The very knowledge used to successfully modify the environment, such as how to prepare hunted or gathered foods at each location as well as how to grow and prepare agricultural varieties of foods for better human nutrition, has been accumulating in human civilizations for thousands of years. Humans figured out how to treat and store wild meats, with all the pathogenic dangers that entails and they did/do it safely, yet they never got the hang of handling beans? Really?

    Do Paleo die-hards perhaps have presbyopia and can only see far back in time? That creaky-old condition at least matches their atherosclerotic inability to adjust their outlook as new information appears.

    • LeonRover on March 11, 2014 at 03:41

      Presbyopia of the aging — maybe.

      I prefer the Pauline “through a glass darkly”.

      This sprung:


    • GTR on March 11, 2014 at 12:49

      @Ben Balzer – here you have some comparison of brain sizes via looking at skulls. Skulls comparison of 2 paleo supspecies and 1 modern shows that both old-time people having giant visual/spatial processing back parts of the brain compared to the moderns. In Neanderthals you also have to add those giant eye sockets to the mix. Unfortunately I don’t remeber the exact number but it was likekely aroud 10 – how many times more neurons are needed to remeber a visual information item compared to verbal ones.

      Contempoarary skull on the other hand has a large executive frontal part of the brain that is responsible from controlling impulses, planning for the future etc. The process of increasing has been going on forever, but there seems to be acceleration of it in the historical time. (This is about averages, we have enough variation, both then and especially with today’s population sizes to cover all sizes, proportions etc.).


      Contemporary vs. medieval (average) modern brain proportions:

      (notice the brain shrinkage is also present in hunter-gatherer populations! The graph at 9:12 shows shrinkage amoung ancestors of San people)


      Some thoughts on brain shrinking

      Domestication hypothesis

      And you need to remeber that at least in the case of Europe these are not the same people. For example during Paleolithic the most popular Y chromosomes were IJ/I, while now Europe is mostly populated with R1A and R1B chromosomes. So maybe it simply means R1 men replaced larger-headed I men?


      Another interesting factor – in 19th centaury the average reaction times were shorter. In the article below the suggested reason is intelligence decline, but more likely it’s about both sleep quality or cardioviscular healht – both being factors in brain performance.

    • Ben Balzer on March 11, 2014 at 04:39

      Survival is the answer. Survival is cool. Charles Darwin told me so. To survive requires, as a first essential, energy. Any form of metabolisable energy.
      To thrive is a different matter. This requires that the food contains sufficient nutrients, and that its toxins do not have signficant effects.
      Most non paleo foods have the issues of either being low in nutrients, or high in toxins (antinutrients), or both.
      You obviously like big brains. When we went Neolithic, there was a big drop in pelvic size. How did evolution deal with this? By evolving a bigger pelvis- well that took a long time. So in the mean time, nature simply selected babies with smaller brains/ smaller heads and we had a reduction in brain size. This is the bone brain connection, which Cordain pointed out some years ago but never got around to publishing, but a concept of obvious profound importance, I am glad to share with my newfound friends on this splendid blog.

      Reference: look for table of Pelvic Inlet Depth here:
      http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/angel-1984/angel-1984-1a.shtml Which shows us why, no matter how many pelvic floor exercises you do, a certain percentage of Caesarean sections is always needed.

    • LeonRover on March 11, 2014 at 06:03

      Interesting, Dr Ben.

      Thrive, yes. Sufficient nutrient, yes. Low in anti-nutrients, yes.

      Most non-paleo foods .. .. .. , no, merely some; and it depend on the food prep.

      Dose .. .. .. poison etc.

      Further, the Dr Oz presentations are a post-modern Romantic representation of actual paleolithic eating as Malory’s representation of Chivalry in the 1250’s was to the behaviour of the Cnights’ feudal thugs in the mid 900’s.


    • LeonRover on March 11, 2014 at 06:11

      PS Cordain uses the Campbell justification of “biological plausibility” rather than showing actual occurrence in actual populations of the bad effect of specific plants or animal ingredients. “Some” does not equal “All”.

  21. pzo on March 12, 2014 at 17:26

    Further, on corn.

    Maize has pretty much shitty nutrition, nixtamalized or not. Hominy and hominy grits are just that, yet without supplemental enrichment, they are so deficient in vitamins that generations of Southerners suffered from Beri Beri, lack of thiamine.

    If this is to believed, pinto beans have an almost perfect essential amino acid score:

    Compare to hominy:

    I think that looking at corn as OK in the Paleo movement is a huge mistake. I do, like Richard, enjoy a corn tortilla here and there, now and then. But to think that corn is anything close to legumes in nutritional content is a dream. Or, worse.

    • gabriella kadar on March 12, 2014 at 17:48

      pzo: ‘The Huron Wendat were farmers who grew corn, beans, and squash. Sixty-five percent of their diet consisted of corn. Dried and shelled, the corn was pounded into flour or sometimes ground between stones. Corn soup (sagamité) was enriched with fish, meat and squash. Unleavened corn bread was baked under hot ashes, with dried fruits and deer meat added. Other items on the Huron Wendat menu included beans, wild berries, nuts and maple syrup. Sunflowers were grown for their oil, used in food and as a body rub.

      The women of the village planted the three main crops on raised hills. About every two years the soil would become depleted, and new fields would be cultivated. In the fall, corn was harvested and hung from poles in the longhouse to dry. Beans were dried and stored with the corn in bark or wooden containers.’

      The only problem these people had was avarice for French trade goods. That was their downfall. But they appeared to do quite well on their corn diet.

  22. Dana on March 12, 2014 at 21:37

    Everyone seems to forget that the indigenous cultures eating all these wonderful sugary and starchy foods that you all seem loathe to give up, so now you’re gonna accept the research claims that bolster your addiction, those cultures also ate critter. Not only critter muscle but critter bone and critter gooshy bits as well.

    You eat enough critter, and the organs and eggs in particular, you could eat a diet all day long that was full of starch and gluten and what would you have then?

    Oh yes. You would have the traditional French. Who might still occasionally get fat but who are NOT dropping dead of cancer and heart disease at the rates we are.

    If you have your gooshy bits dialed in and you really cannot give up your little addictions, then fine, indulge. But don’t pretend the addictions are health food, because if they were health food, you could thrive on them without the gooshy bits.

    You can live on gooshy bits without birdseed (including legumes). You cannot live on birdseed without gooshy bits.

    So don’t make it about health. It’s not healthy. Make it about personal preference and quit pretending the herd should march your way, because it shouldn’t and I thought you were against people acting like sheep.

    P.S. I tried, I really did, because I like legumes. But anything except green beans, which are the seed pod and fairly harmless, hurts me like a bitch later as it moves through my system. My philosophy is that if it hurts and it’s not muscles sore from exercise, it’s my body trying to tell me to quit doing it, and these days I listen. I have the same experience with popcorn and brown rice. My blood sugar meter tells me the refined stuff sucks too. End of story and I give a shit what Paul Jaminet says. Most vegetables do not do that to me. Meat NEVER does that to me. Worst-case scenario I eat too much fat and get the runs but it feels different from a soluble-fiber overdose and I get over it quickly.

    • Dana on March 12, 2014 at 21:40

      Sorry. INsoluble fiber. Jesus, I need to go to bed. One Paleo thing I still have not conquered. Sigh.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 12, 2014 at 21:51

      Hey Dana, you’ve been around on and off for a good many years.

      So, if it helps for you to regard that which doesn’t work for you but works super for me and others as an addiction, then well, I think I’ll go light an American Spirit, have a few sips of scotch and wish you well with that.

      Hope you figure it out.

  23. James N. on March 14, 2014 at 06:00

    I found a few links with regards to the Neanderthals and the eating of legumes.


    So far, I am finally seeing some shrinkage in my midsection after the inclusion of potatoes, sprouted rice, lime treated corn, Anasazi beans, some Garbanzo beans (Hummus), and sprouted lentils. I have tried just about every other diet (way-of-eating) that I can think of, and Richard’s version of Paleo appears to be the only one that is really truly melting away these stubborn pounds.

    And as a side note, the 23andme genetics tests for my Parents show that they have 2% of the Neanderthal genome.

    • LeonRover on March 14, 2014 at 06:58

      James N.

      ScienceDaily has this report.


      on African genetics & lactase persistance.

      Here is the goal of the study:

      “The idea was that we wanted to sample as many populations, and as diverse a set of populations, as possible,” Ranciaro said. “We included pastoralists, agro-pastoralists, agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers, so the four major subsistence patterns were all covered.”

      Cordain’s methodology only compares & contrasts the “industrial-agricultural complex” with Hunter-Gatherers, and ignored Pastoralists & Agro-Pastoralists.

      Faux Paleo indeed.


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