The Paleo diet—eating the way our prehistoric ancestors supposedly did by sticking to meat, nuts, vegetables, and berries and avoiding dairy and starchy carbs like potatoes, grains, and beans—seems to be getting a comeuppance, according to a new study in the Quarterly Review of Biology.
The researchers’ hypothesis: Because the human brain uses up about 25% of the body’s entire daily energy budget—and more than half of that comes from glucose, or sugar—meat and berries alone could never have met that need. So the fact that today our brains are smart enough to even debate the issue means that Fred Flintstone and gang must have been eating some type of high-starch food about 800,000 years ago.
Add to that the fact that prehistoric forms of starches similar to potatoes and jicama would definitely have been available back then, and that cooking—which makes starches more digestible—started up around this time, and the issue’s kind of a gimme, says study head Karen Hardy, Ph.D.
For the biggest bang for your new Paleo buck, slam a phytonutrient-rich sweet potato—not a regular spud—down next to that slab of salmon or sirloin. Oh, and don’t forget to go heavy on the veggies.