Sweet Potatoes for the Okinawans | The Paleo Diet |… | The Paleo Diet®
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

The latest from The Paleo Diet®, just for you.

Hot topics, new recipes, and science

Sweet Potatoes for the Okinawans

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
November 5, 2009
Sweet Potatoes for the Okinawans image

In the article in today's email "The Paleo Diet Promotes Greater Vitality in Later Years" by Pedro Bastos he writes about the Okinawan Diet. He writes that they don't eat potatoes but I understand that they eat lots of Sweet Potatoes.

Dr. Cordain's Response:

Yes, probably they ate big amounts of sweet potatoes as some hunter-gatherers do in Kitava-Papua New Guinea. Our ancestors didn't have an universal diet because it depended on climate, season, latitude, culture, etc. This means that the amount of carbohydrates they ate varied substantially. So, for instance in Kitava they eat a lot of carbohydrates and still have no obesity, so it seems as if some bioactive substances of neolithic foods are responsible for hormonal disruption rather than merely carbohydrate content.

However, there's a big difference between potatoes and sweet potatoes. Potatoes are a good source of some known harmful substances namely saponins. They have the ability to increase intestinal permeability and hence increase the risk of autoimmune diseases (in genetically predisposed individuals), and induce low-grade chronic inflammation which is at the root of many chronic degenerative diseases. On the other hand, there's some preliminary data suggesting that some bioactive substances, such as lectins and saponins, contained in potatoes, grains, legumes, etc. can bind hormonal receptors impairing their function. This could be the case of leptin receptor leading to leptin resistance and some metabolic disorders.

Potatoes are a very new food for humans, as they came from North America less than 600 years ago. On the other hand, it seems that sweet potatoes are part of the human diet since a long time ago.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Even More Articles For You

Physiological Mechanisms: Underlying High Salt Diets and Cancer
Americans are consuming more salt than ever before – learn about the detrimental effects of too much sodium in today's post. Keep up with The Paleo Diet for more information about Paleo foods.
By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
How Dr. Terry Wahls Improved Her Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
We take a look at Dr. Wahls groundbreaking book revealing that a Paleo lifestyle had the ability to reverse her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms.
By David Whiteside
Autoimmune Disease and The Paleo Diet: Case Studies
Learn the correlation between autoimmune disease & The Paleo Diet®. Visit our website for Paleo Diet articles, news, Paleo dinner recipes & more.
By The Paleo Diet® Team
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.