By now, we’re all familiar with the paleo diet. You’re probably sick of hearing about this low-carb and -dairy, high-protein and -vegetables diet that supposedly mimics our ancestral eating habits. Paleo enthusiasts claim that we should emulate the hunter and gatherers’ diet of nuts, meats, and vegetables rather than reaching for the pasta at Whole Foods.But guess what? According to a new study published in the Quarterly Review of Biology, carbs and starchy foods were not only around during the Paleolithic era — in the form of tubers and certain nuts — but the consumption of these starches over the course of millions of years may have been critical to human brain development.
The study suggests that cooked starchy foods like potatoes actually seem to have kick-started the evolution of our brain matter. That’s right: Our carb cravings could actually have made humanity smarter.
“The rapid growth in [human] brain size during the Middle Pleistocene will have required an increased supply of preformed glucose,” lead researcher Dr. Karen Hardy said. “Up until now, there has been a heavy focus on the role of animal protein and cooking in the development of the human brain over the last 2 million years, and the importance of carbohydrates, particular in form of starch-rich plant foods, has been largely overlooked."