A study of monkey diets carried out at the University of California, Berkeley, by anthropologist Katharine Milton found, for instance, that the average 15-pound wild monkey takes in 600 milligrams per day of vitamin C, 10 times more than that 60-million recommended daily allowance (RDA) for the average 150-pound human. Differences on that order also were found for intakes of other micronutrients, such as fiber, magnesium, potassium, and beta-carotene. The monkey’s diet is amazingly rich in nutrients. The foods that primates in the wild eat include green leaves of many kinds of fruits such as figs, plums, berries, and grapes. The study also reported that the dark green vegetables the monkeys eat contain the complete array of essential amino acids, similar to meat.
The RDAs set by the government were determined by investigating the foods modern humans eat, and they should not be considered representative of the amount of nutrients that would be found in an ideal diet. Unfortunately, most people don’t even take in the very low levels recommended in the RDAs. The researchers in the monkey study concluded that “throughout history, humans have suffered all sorts of diet-related diseases. If we paid more attention to what our wild, primate relatives are eating today, perhaps we could learn new things about our own dietary needs that would help reduce health problems throughout the world.”
The modern diet, especially the one most Americans eat, is too low in minerals and not even close to what we should be consuming for optimal health. Despite consuming almost twice as many calories (macronutrients) as we need, fewer than 18% of adults and 2% of children consume the minimum daily requirements of micronutrients recommended.