Humans, lipids and evolution

Lipids. 1992 Oct;27(10):814-20. doi: 10.1007/BF02535856.


The genetically ordered physiology of contemporary humans was selected over eons of evolutionary experience for a nutritional pattern affording much less fat, particularly less saturated fat. Current dietary recommendations do not accord exactly with those generated by an understanding of prior hominoid/hominid evolution. Similarly, widely advocated standards for serum cholesterol values fail to match those observed in recently studied hunter-gatherers, whose experience represents the closest living approximation of "natural" human lipid metabolism. The evolutionary paradigm suggests that fats should comprise 20-25% of total energy intake, that the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat should exceed 1.0, and that total serum cholesterol levels should be below 150 mg/dL (approximately 4 mM/L).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Food Handling
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Meat / analysis
  • Paleontology
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Dietary Fats
  • Cholesterol