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Old 05-16-2007, 10:25 AM   #1
Tom Fetter
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Yes, I've used the search function. I've also googled Zone sites on the web.

Please con someone explain how eating seeds from, say, sunflowers or pumpkins is a good thing, yet eating seeds from grass plants is a bad thing?

Ounce for ounce, they're equally nutritionally dense - if anything, the higher fat content of sesames, sunflower seeds, flax, pumpkin etc. makes them more calorie dense than whole wheat, or barley, or oats.

Isn't the argument against using whole grains in the Zone diet really just an argument about proportions?

That is, would we find pumpkin seeds (or broccoli, or lean beef) prohibited if we culturally used those foods as the foundational basis of a diet - disproportionately displacing other foods?
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Old 05-16-2007, 11:05 AM   #2
Anthony Bainbridge
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It's a question of macronutrients, not necessarily density or overall value.

Technical definitions aside, "nuts and seeds" are primarily used as fat sources. Whole grains are primarily carb/starch sources. Most western diets are high in carbs, low in good fats, so the push to drop sugar/grains in favor of veggies and increase nut/seed intake is one way to bring balance (not to mention better micronutrient profiles).

So yeah, you're sorta right in thinking it's an argument about proportions, but at the same time you can't replace almonds with whole wheat bread and expect the same effect because the macros are completely different.
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:03 PM   #3
Daniel Miller
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Tom, good question.

Anthony is right on about the macronurtient issue. You'll find that a lot of people savy about evolutionary biology on this board who get most of their calories from fat and are simultaneously quite lean.

Specifically, the issue you asked deals with botany. Most grains consumed today in large amounts were wild grasses found in the fertile crescent 10k some years ago. Their cultivation over a period of thousands of years severely changed these once small grasses to what you see today in industrial agriculture. From a botanical standpoint, much has been lost.

As a thought experiement, I wonder what would have happened if we had more extensively cultivated nuts and seeds. I'm sure many would assert that Celiac disease would be less common. They may be right. I don't think that nuts/seeds store quite as well as grain and certainly the yield for farmers must not be as high.

In terms of anti-nutrients, you're right that both nuts and grains have compounds called phytates, that can bind atoms of iron, calcium, zinc, mangesium, and some other chemically similar atoms preventing their absorption.

In terms of culture, I don't think that the argument for reducing grain consumption is solely one about proportions (total kcal). There are a variety of reasons behind this, from ethnographic studies of hunter gathers, to examining how natural selection acted on different levels of us (genes, epigenetics, culture, etc), and even just acknowledging that a calorie is not just a calorie (there is an extremely different hormonal response between 300cal white or brown rice versus 300 cal soaked almonds, fruits, lean meat, or oil).
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:31 PM   #4
Tom Fetter
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Helpful - thanks.

I'd thought that the primary reason to nix grains was glycemic - and that whole grains would obviously be an improvement over refined.

But I hadn't considered the obvious macronutrient bit - that grains are treated as carbo-block material in the Zone, and nuts/seeds as fat-block material.

Significant micronutrient differences between a handful of cashews, and a handful of wheat berries too ...

I find it hard to ditch the concept of pairing whole grains with legumes to ground a healthy diet - yes for carbos, but also for protein. more reading and thinking to do yet.

(Message edited by TomF on May 16, 2007)

(Message edited by TomF on May 16, 2007)
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:20 PM   #5
Anthony Bainbridge
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Progress comes from being consistent - not necessarily perfect. So if you want to eat grains, find a way to balance them in. Jodi and I still have potatoes or pasta after a workout ... is it perfect? I guess it depends on who you ask, but at least it keeps us sane (sorta).

Also keep in mind that the difference between 90% perfection and 100% perfection is so small that it's not worth the headache. Allow yourself some wiggle room.
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:53 PM   #6
Charlie Jackson
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As a thought experiement, I wonder what would have happened if we had more extensively cultivated nuts and seeds. I'm sure many would assert that Celiac disease would be less common.

We'd probably still be living in grass huts. Civilization was fueld by starch consumption. Try to work 12 hours of construction on nuts and seeds then try it on whole grains. Starch is the best source of fuel for a physically active person.
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Old 05-16-2007, 08:11 PM   #7
Kevin McKay
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"I find it hard to ditch the concept of pairing whole grains with legumes to ground a healthy diet - yes for carbos, but also for protein"

The whole rice+beans=complete protein is is not very valid as the protein being encased in so much fiber makes the bio availability very low.

rice+beans=carbs+carbs

Try dropping grains and legumes for a month and see how you feel then start eating them and see how you feel.

This is a good resource for further reading
safe link
http://www.thepaleodiet.com/published_research/
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Old 05-17-2007, 03:34 PM   #8
Garrett Smith
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I've never seen or heard of humans eating grass until "modern" times. That includes their seeds. Animals designed to eat grasses for nutrition (and not to induce vomiting, ie. dogs) have a completely different digestive system, as in chewing cud and multiple stomachs.

Argue about it or try it and feel better/live longer. That's about it, the rest is a waste of time.
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