It’s long been thought that meat allowed us to develop larger and smarter brains, but it appears carbohydrates, particularly starchy ones, played an integral role as well.
The brain uses as much as 25 percent of the body’s daily energy and as much as 60 percent of the body’s blood glucose. Such a high demand for glucose would not have been met by a low-carb diet.
The development of cooking was also crucial as humans cannot efficiently digest raw starches.
Dr Karen Hardy from the Autonomous University of Barcelona sifted through anthropological, genetic and anatomical data to determine that a starch-rich diet was critical to our development.
“The regular consumption of starchy plant foods offers a coherent explanation for the provision of energy to the developing brain during the Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene,” said Dr Hardy.
“Eating meat may have kick started the evolution of bigger brains, but cooked starchy foods together with more salivary amylase genes made us smarter still.”