Month: October 2016

Is Dairy Paleo? 

For thousands of years, humans have been collecting milk. Maybe because we knew that drinking our mother’s milk was such a great idea, we figured we’d start gathering it from animals, too. Then we turn it into cheese and butter and we’ve got a whole array of dairy goodies! Regardless of how our milk fixation began, we can’t deny that it’s a big part of many people’s daily diet nowadays. But as Paleo adherents, should we be cutting out the milk or adding more?

One thing is for sure—milk consumption is a hot topic in the Paleo community, and many people have different opinions. Some believe that milk is inflammatory and even causes cancer (this has been examined in a number of studies, which do seem to indicate a possible correlation). Others claim that milk is a great addition to the diet because of all its nutrients. These advocates cite studies that found links between milk and reduced vascular disease (hardening of the arteries), lower triglycerides, and more blood sugar control.

One of the major reasons that some people advise against dairy consumption is because of casein and lactose, two major chemical elements of these products. Casein, a protein found in cow’s milk, sticks around in cheese and many other dairy products, so even if lactose isn’t your problem, many people have an issue with casein. In fact, some studies suggest that casein may behave in much the same way as gluten, and if you’re sensitive to that, your body will react to dairy in the same way. Naturally, this starts an inflammatory cascade that might be the cause for you to ditch the milk-based products altogether.

On the other hand, we’ve all been told that milk is great for us. What’s the deal? Let’s take a look at what some leading Paleo experts think about dairy as a regular part of the diet.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

The Paleo Mom says: “So, what do I recommend? Caution. I believe that dairy is probably okay for many healthy adults, especially full-fat, grass-fed dairy. In fact, for healthy individuals, the benefits likely outweigh the risks. However, for those battling autoimmune disease or other conditions where a leaky gut is a potential contributing factor, it makes the most sense to omit dairy from your diet for now. As is my standard recommendation for all of the gray-area foods, I suggest leaving it out of your diet for at least 1 month, then try reintroducing it and see if you notice any obvious symptoms (this is the best way to determine if you are allergic or sensitive).”

Mark Sisson says: “Bottom line: don’t consume non-organic dairy if you can help it. Avoid homogenized milk if you can, and try not to purchase pasteurized milk (organic or not) on a regular basis. If you’re out getting coffee or something, the regular half and half or heavy cream are fine, and Kerrygold makes a great pastured, pasteurized butter that’s available nationwide.”

Is Dairy Paleo?

Strict Paleo: No!

Not-so-strict Paleo: Probably.

This one doesn’t have a straight answer. If you find yourself sensitive to dairy products, then they’re not the right choice for you, even though they might be completely fine with someone else. Remember that a large part of the problem with dairy—the bit about how it causes cancer and other diseases—comes from studies (like the one earlier in this very article) that were conducted on “standard” milk. You know, skim, homogenized, pasteurized milk. So in that sense, the Paleo mindset holds just as true now as ever—get it the way you find it in nature. Don’t mess with it and it’ll be better for you. If we keep that in mind, we can make a decision about dairy based on our circumstances and what our bodies are telling us.

Issue No. 49

Does Garcina Cambogia Really Work for Weight Loss? 

Garcina photo
Photo by alanbentrup

Diet fads aren’t exactly a new trend. But diet pills and supplements have become the most popular in the recent diet fad franchise. Like many others that you may have seen on the market or even tried, Garcina Cambogia grew in popularity after being featured on the popular “DR. Oz” Show. Supplements containing Garcina Cambogia claim to perform weight loss miracles; in fact, if you google it, you will be led to dozens of seemingly reputable reviews. Upon a little bit of reading, you may notice that most of these “claims” are supposedly made by celebrities and diet experts; it doesn’t take much digging to see that the majority of these “claims” are purely fiction created in an attempt to get you to purchase a so called celebrity endorsed product. Though, Garcina Cambogia was made famous via Dr. Oz, it is important to remember that every supplement is different.

Testing done by, Consumer Lab, have shown that many of the Garcina Cambogia supplements that are on the market contain a significant amount less Garcina Cambogia than is listed on their label. The FDA does not regulate vitamins and supplements in the same way as prescription medication. The FDA only monitors the labeling; not the dosage and contents in the supplement.

Do The Claims Have Any Merit?

The truth is, like most weight loss trend that explode in popularity overnight, there is very little evidence to support the claims. The research that has been conducted in Garcina Camogia is minimal and doesn’t amount to much as far as rock hard evidence is concerned. One study, conducted in 1998, showed no significant weight loss results. The study consisted of 135 test subjects over a 12-week period; at the end of the study both the Garcina Cambogia group and the placebo group had lost a significant amount of weight. There was no significant difference in the weight loss by the subjects taking the supplement vs. the placebo, according to, US National Library of Medicine.

While many people are still flocking to purchase Garcina Cambogia, there is no sufficient evidence that proves it to be at all useful for weight loss.  In many cases, it is even believed to be dangerous. Multiple Garcina Cambogia supplements have been involved in recalls and lawsuits in the past 10-years; but, just as there is no proof of the benefits of Garcina Cambogia, there is also not much evidence in support of its negative effects either. As with any other over the counter weight loss supplement, you should always consult a physician before incorporating them into your diet plan and research the brand well to be sure it is a legitimate company and not a falsely endorsed scam.

Protein Powders, in Comparison; Casein Vs. Whey Vs. Hemp

Protein Powder photo
Photo by beckstei

Protein is astoundingly important for our body’s, especially if you are on a strict workout regimen or body building plan. The majority of people choose to get a big boost of protein just before a workout or just after, typically, by fitting it into a smoothie, shake, or high protein drink. But, are all protein powders created equally? Let’s take a difference at each one and get a better idea of which one you need.

Casein Protein Powder

Casein protein powder is a slow-digesting protein that is mainly found in milk, it is frequently called “Milk Protein”. Approximately 80% of the protein found in whole milk is casein protein. Casein protein is slow-digesting; it turns into a gel like or clotted substance in the stomach, which is slow dissolving and last longer. Like most protein options, casein protein contains all of the essential amino acids; it also contains less short chain amino acids than other proteins. Casein protein stops the body from breaking down amino acids that are already present on muscle structure and doesn’t increase protein synthesis compared to other proteins.

Whey Protein Powder 

Whey protein is very similar to casein protein in many ways. It is also derived from milk, but is a fast digesting protein. Whey protein is a faster acting protein, though, it doesn’t last as long as other proteins and leaves the body faster. Whey protein also, causes more of an amino acid spike. Whey protein has been proven to be beneficial for weight loss, increased energy, and to boost the antioxidant known as, glutathione. Whey is a common choice for many people because it is easy to digest and is considered the best protein for increasing metabolism and forming muscle.  Whey protein powder is easily digestible for those who are lactose intolerant, despite its milk origin and Is also a vegetarian option.

Hemp Protein Powder

Hemp protein powder remains’ the more controversial of protein powders. It is derived from hemp seeds and is still hard to get or illegal in many areas. That being said, hemp protein powder is believed to be the safest of plant based proteins. Hemp protein powder is easy to digest, typically organic, and has a long list of other health benefits, such as improving heart health.  Hemp protein powder is also, vegetarian and vegan. It contains 20 amino acids, including 9 essential amino acids. It is often considered the safest option, as it is organic, natural, requires no pesticides to cultivate or harvest, and rarely has any additives.

Is One Better Than the Other? 

Whey protein, casein protein, and hemp protein are all extremely beneficial options. In fact, many people who are serious about body building use more than one type of protein powder. For instance, when first thing in the morning as it is fast digesting, casein at bedtime for its slow digestion and hemp between meals. All of these protein powders can be beneficial to building muscle mass, weight loss, and overall body health; it all depends on which one works best for you, your budget, and your workout routine.

Build Your Immune System with Conjugated Linoleic Acids

Immune System photo
Photo by Lori Greig

Conjugated linoleic acids are a group of chemicals found in a fatty acid, known as, linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is the most common of all omega-6 fatty acids and is most commonly found in vegetable oils. According to, Authority Nutrition, there are 28 different forms of conjugated linoleic acids. Conjugated linoleic acids are commonly found in beef and dairy, especially from grass fed cows. Though these types of fats are typically considered to be un-healthy, in the case of conjugated linoleic acids they are beneficial to your health. Conjugated linoleic acid is an essential polyunsaturated fat that you can only obtain from your diet.

The many benefits associated with conjugated linoleic acids, include:

  • Aiding weight loss
  • Cancer prevention
  • Healthy digestion
  • Growth and developmental health
  • Bone strength
  • Muscle building
  • Reducing food related allergies

It has been suggested that microbes in the gastrointestinal tract can convert linoleic acid into different forms of conjugated linoleic acids through a bio hydrogenation process. The process causes changes to the position and configuration of the fat’s double bonds; this results in in a single bond between the double bonds.  It has been shown that conjugated linoleic acid has immune-enhancing effects. The conjugated linoleic acid that is found in saturated fats may be able to offset the adverse effects of the saturated fat content and have positive effects on many different areas, including, blood sugar regulation to hormone regulation. It has been proven that the quality of fatty acids you consume is extremely important in order to reduce the risk of cancer; conjugated linoleic acid have been shown to be healthy in many ways. They have also been shown to reduce inflammation, which leads to less free radicals in the body that is likely linked to lower cancer risk.

The overall health benefits of conjugated linoleic acids have been studied on multiple occasions and while more studies are still needed to confirm the absolute effects of its consumption; in the meantime, it is believed that Conjugated linoleic acids can have significant health benefits, despite that they come from fatty food sources. The overall effects of conjugated linoleic acids have direct results on the body’s immune system and its ability to ward of free radicals and illnesses. The top sources of conjugated linoleic acids are grass fed beef, full fat dairy products, and butter. The secret is to purchase high quality grass fed beef and dairy and to remember to consume them in moderation.

Is Soy Milk Paleo? 

Soy Milk photo
Photo by Veganbaking.net

Maybe this is a silly question, but really – why wouldn’t soy (and, by extension, soy milk) be Paleo?

It’s not hard to imagine that soybeans would have been eaten a million years ago, and it’s not that much of a stretch to think about somehow mixing soybeans with a bit of water and making a milk-like substance.

it’s also an important question because dairy is a big problem for many folks.

Unfortunately, soy milk is decidedly non-Paleo (and not healthy).

Legumes are not the worst things you can eat, but some are worse than others. Soy, in some ways, is the worst of the legumes, and soy milk – along with tofu – are the worst forms of soy.

Here are 4 reasons to avoid soy milk:

  1. Highly Processed: Have you ever seen a soy-cow or a tofu-tree? Didn’t think so. Soy beans are somewhat problematic, but soy milk is so highly processed that it amplifies all the problems of soy by concentrating the worst parts of soy beans. In addition, most soy processing involves acid-washing, along with added sugar and MSG.
  2. Phytates and Lectins: Like all legumes, soy beans have phytates that prevent your body from absorbing many minerals and lectins that can cause gut irritation. But when you start to process soy beans in the manner necessary to make soy milk, it concentrates the phytates and lectins, increasing the likelihood that they’ll interfere with your gut health and nutrient absorption.
  3. Phyto-Estrogens: Occasional soy beans probably won’t cause too many problems in this regard, but soy milk is incredibly high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens bind to the same receptors in your body, which then thinks that it’s not producing enough estrogen, thus throwing your entire hormonal system out of balance.
  4. GMOs and Pesticides: Have any guesses as to what the most genetically modified food in the United States is? Corn is a close second, but the title goes to soy. Not just that, but soy is great at absorbing pesticides. Take all of that, process it, concentrate it into soy milk, and you have a drink that is not healthy in any regard!

Is Soy Milk Paleo?

No.

Some fermented soy products are healthy for you, but soy milk definitely is not.

Issue No. 49

Is Coconut Milk Paleo? 

Coconut Milk photo
Photo by Veganbaking.net

Coconut milk has a few misconceptions swirling around the evolutionary foodie-verse about it – both about what it actually is and about where it’s Paleo-friendly. Many think that coconut milk is the liquid inside a fresh coconut (that’s actually coconut water), but the milk is a prepared beverage. Made by mixing shredded coconut and water, the mixture is simmered, strained, and squeezed to create the rich, creamy drink we call coconut milk.

Found in both cans and cartons, not all coconut milks are created equal. While a can of pure coconut milk sporting an ingredient list of coconut and water is pretty clean on where it falls on the Paleo spectrum, there are other health factors to consider. If it’s in a can, BPA (Bisphenal-A), a component of the can’s metal lining, can potentially leach into the milk. BPA has been found to have estrogenic activity and has been linked to a role in a host of diseases, from diabetes to cancer. Look for brands that are BPA-free.

Additionally, many companies turn out milks with not so-nice additives and ingredients. Some add in thickeners, gums, or carrageenan, which can cause digestive problems, especially for those with compromised gastrointestinal systems.

Coconut milk in cartons can fall even farther away from a clean ingredient list, prompting it to be called a “coconut beverage.” Many companies turning out coconut milk in cartons sweeten it, flavor it, and add thickeners – not the real deal when it comes to coconut milk.

To avoid any additives or ingredients that might cause issues, many Paleo advocates recommend making your own. Try using shredded dried coconut and mix it with water to create your own coconut milk.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Chris Kresser says: “Coconut milk is often a staple fat source for those following a Paleo diet. From a nutritional perspective, it’s an excellent choice.” However, he cautions that “women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding, children and other vulnerable populations (chronically ill) should avoid canned coconut milk products except for those that are BPA-free.

Healthy people may be fine with canned coconut milk, provided they don’t react to the guar gum, and provided they’re willing to take the side of industry scientists that claim BPA doesn’t cause harm in humans.”

Stephanie Greunke, RD (and member of Robb Wolf’s RD consulting team) says: “I’ve read countless recipes that list coconut milk as an ingredient and want to make sure that people realize coconut milk means just that – coconut milk in the can, prepared from a whole coconut, or shredded coconut mixed and prepared with water. While a multitude of companies are coming out with their own version of coconut milk by the quart and half gallon, these new innovations are truly coconut beverages, not milk. In short, do not use the coconut milk beverages in your recipes.”

Mark Sisson says: “If you find yourself holed up in a dingy Albuquerque motel room littered with empty tetra-paks of Aroy-D, you’ve got a problem. Other than that, as long as you’re not gaining unwanted body fat, or drinking so much that it displaces other, more nutrient-dense foods in your diet, you’re probably fine.

Is Coconut Milk Paleo?

Yes, coconut milk is Paleo-acceptable.

If you make your own from just coconut meat and water, then the answer is a resounding yes.

Things get murky, however, when whoosing more store-bought brands. Depending on ingredients and personal preference in avoiding BPAs, it can be a bit of a judgement call on what type of coconut milk is acceptable on a Paleo regimen. So watch where it comes from, what’s in it, what it’s called, and how often you drink it to ensure that it’s a healthy addition to your diet.

Issue No. 49

Is Almond Milk Paleo? 

Almond Milk photo
Photo by AmazingAlmonds

Almond milk has been around since medieval times and as an alternative to cow’s milk, almond milk has been used for cooking, baking, and a straight-up drink. Unlike animal milk, this milk-like drink made from ground almonds contains no lactose or cholesterol and is helpful for those with allergies to gluten or casein.

Nutritionally, almond milk offers many of the same benefits that almonds do, including magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, fiber, zinc, calcium, and several phytochemicals. Unsweetened versions are also low in calories, containing about 40 calories per 8-oz serving. Compared to cow’s milk, the only area that almond milk offers less nutrition is in protein, with only a gram per a serving, compared to the eight grams that cow’s milk offers.

You can make your own almond milk, which helps remove the anti-nutrients inherent in the nuts. This is the healthier and preferred alternative if you are trying to avoid the processed, chemically-laden store-brought brands. Their labels sport a host of not-so-good-for-you ingredients like preservatives, sweeteners, and carrageenan.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Diane Sunfilippo says: “Personally, I vote for homemade (almond milk) or none at all. You have NO way of knowing what ‘other natural flavors’ (on a label) means.”

Mark Sission says: “Is almond milk Primal? Sure, in theory. Grind up some almonds, mix with water, and strain them to produce a ‘milk’ uses nothing but Primal ingredients and practices. There’s nothing overtly ‘wrong’ with that. But there’s also nothing very exciting… Personally, I’d just eat the almonds.”

Loren Cordain says: “Yes, almond milk is a Paleo-friendly food. You can also use hazelnut and coconut milk.”

Is Almond Milk Paleo?

Yes, but use it in moderation and make your own when you can.

Almonds are Paleo, so it should follow that their milky output might be too. IF almonds are ground, mixed with water, and strained to produce a “milk,” it’s pretty far from an industrial-processed food so it’s allowable according to most Paleo experts.

However, commercially produced forms are highly processed and can defeat the real-food, healthy intentions for Paleo-diet followers if used too frequently.

Issue No. 49

Is Sweet Potato Flour Paleo?

Sweet Potato Flour photo
Photo by Green Smoothies Rock!

Almond flour, coconut flour, sweet potato flour—in the world of Paleo, substituting for standard grain-based flour can be a real task. What do you choose? Where do you find it? And when you do find it, how do you know that you’re not just substituting one inflammatory flour for another? Some vouch for sweet potato flour as a reliable ingredient in any Paleo recipe, but should we really be tossing this into our cooking and baking?
Sweet potato flour is produced from—you guessed it—sweet potatoes. Both white and orange ones are used to create flour, which retains some sweetness even after being ground down. Regardless, sweet potato itself is generally widely accepted in the Paleo community.

In fact, sweet potatoes have been demonstrated in numerous studies to have a whole host of beneficial effects, including cancer prevention, the ability to regulate and downgrade inflammation, and (despite their sugary contents) helping to regulate insulin control. They’re a great source of potassium, and you get much more than your regular daily dose of vitamin A after eating just one medium sweet potato. All this on top of considerable helpings of vitamins C and D, riboflavin, and iron.

But that’s just sweet potatoes, right? We’re talking flour here.
Actually, it turns out that as long as you’re careful, you’ll be getting just about the same nutrients if you buy sweet potato flour as you would from eating a regular sweet potato. That being said, there’s probably cause to say we can safely use some of this grain-free powder in our Paleo cooking, right?

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

The Paleo Mom says: “Sweet potato powder [often called sweet potato flour] is ground dried sweet potatoes and still retains its orange color (sweet potato starch is white). This is a more interesting flour because it has some fiber and can absorb liquid so it has more ability to hold baking together. I have used it in pancakes and have played with it as a flour substitute for brownies. I’m still getting familiar with this flour, but it’s definitely a neat one to play with.”

Sebastien Noel says: “’Safe starches’…(especially sweet potatoes) and other starchy tubers are therefore a perfectly acceptable element of a healthy, evolutionarily-based diet for someone with no (or few) metabolic problems.”

Is Sweet Potato Flour Paleo?

Yes!

By and large, if you pick up a pound of sweet potato flour, you’re on track for some great, toxin-free nutrients that won’t cause your body any harm. However, do be aware of what you’re buying and, as always, check the label. It’s not unheard of for flours to contain more than just their derivative part—if your sweet potato flour actually has some regular, processed wheat-based flour in it, then it’s a no-go. In general, aim for orange-tinted flour and check to be sure that what you’re toting home is pure, 100% sweet potato.

Issue No. 50

Is Miso Paleo?

Miso photoWhen most people think of miso, they conjure an imagine of a little bowl of soup served at a Japanese restaurant. Miso soup is probably the most popular way to consume miso, but actually, miso is a paste that is widely used for a variety of dishes. Said to be a better alternative than table salt with more flavor to boot, is miso something that would feel right at home in the Paleo lifestyle? Or are its negative effects too great to outweigh any positives?

Making miso itself is quite a process—a base (usually made of soybeans, though any bean will work) is mashed and then combined with a culture called Aspergillus oryzae. This starts off a fermentation process, but what is interesting is that the Aspergillus mixture (often called “koji”) is not a yeast, despite what most people think. Bacteria encourages the beans to ferment, forming a paste that is otherwise known as miso.

This miso paste, which can be used for cooking or made into soup, is a staple in diets around the world—most notably Japan. However, followers of the Paleo diet note that legumes, and especially soy, contain lectins that interfere with blood sugar levels; in other words, they make your blood sugar harder to regulate, so your insulin has to work harder in response. This can lead to insulin sensitivity and metabolic disorder.
Similarly, soy contains phytoestrogens (note the word “estrogen” there), which are a big culprit behind hormonal imbalances. So it seems that perhaps miso, which is soy-based, is not a wise option for those following a Paleo lifestyle.

However, others argue that because soy is fermented and loses many of its toxins in the process, adding it to the diet in judicious amounts is perfectly acceptable. In fact, numerous studies have shown that the sodium in miso actually helps manage blood pressure, not make it worse. Miso actually has a protective effect against high blood pressure, it seems.

Both sides of the argument certainly have their own important talking points, so what is a confused Paleo dieter to do? Thankfully, some Paleo experts weigh in to make the decision a little easier.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Irena of EatDrinkPaleo says: “A few soy based ingredients…pass my nutritional acceptance test. These are naturally fermented soy foods such as tempeh, natto and miso. The reason these particular soy products are not as harmful as tofu or soy milk is that they are produced through a fermentation process, which makes them more easily digestible and reduces the amount of present antinutrients such as phytates and lectins. In fact, they are rather healthy and nutritious—they are a great source of probiotics, have high levels of isoflavones (cancer preventative) and a good amount of protein (especially tempeh), minerals and vitamins (especially vitamin K in miso and B12 vitamin in tempeh).”

UltimatePaleoGuide says: “[Miso] may have a positive hormonal impact and help menopausal symptoms, the prostate, lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Again, these benefits are seen when soy is consumed in small quantities from unprocessed and fermented sources such as tempeh, natto, and miso. If you are consuming soy, it should be primarily from those sources mentioned above, in small quantities, and in organic and fermented form.”

Is Miso Paleo?

No!

Our Paleolithic ancestors did not engage in the process to create miso, so strictly speaking, miso is not a “Paleo food.”

However, fermented foods are actively endorsed by Paleo enthusiasts, including Paleo Living Magazine, for their extensive health benefits. Miso that comes from properly fermented soy is an acceptable addition to a Paleo diet because most of its toxins have been removed during the fermentation process. However, as with any food, try it and see how your body reacts. If you know that you do not tolerate soy well, consider opting out of miso dishes—or better yet, consider looking for miso that is not made from soybeans. Chickpeas and fava beans are known to produce equally tasty miso paste!

Issue No. 52

Are Peanuts Paleo?

Peanuts photo

Peanut butter, peanut brittle, and just regular old peanuts—these are some snack-time staples. But what exactly is the big hype about these little nuts all about? Many tout the protein and fiber content of peanuts (and legumes in general), but let’s be honest—peanuts are tasty. Since they’re so popular and seem to be a great source of a few important nutrients, should Paleo-ites be popping peanuts for a snack?

One of the reasons that no one thinks twice about munching on peanuts is probably because they’ve been around for a long time—think at least 3,500 years. It’s no surprise, then, that over the course of all that time, people eventually got the idea to try to eat them. Additionally, peanuts contain high amounts of fiber and protein; so much, in fact, that people who do not consume meat categorize peanuts in the “meat” category of their food plan.

If they’re that loaded with protein and fiber, what’s not to love? Well, as it turns out, peanuts are hiding a dark little secret. They contain lectins, which are proteins that plants make to keep things from eating them. If these lectins are a peanut’s defense mechanism against, well, us, it can’t be too great for us if we actually consume them. And it turns out that’s exactly right—some studies show that the lectins that peanuts produce contribute to leaky gut. Your intestines become inflamed and start sporting little tiny holes, where food particles can escape and enter the bloodstream. Needless to say, what’s in the stomach should stay in the stomach. And we haven’t even mentioned aflatoxins, which are a type of mold common in peanuts that may even contribute to cancer.

With some beneficial nutrients potentially outweighed by some toxins and their harmful effects, it can be difficult to see where peanuts rest on the Paleo spectrum.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Sarah Ballantyne says: “There are several ways in which [peanuts] create holes in the gut lining. The best understood is the damage caused by lectins. While slowing down sugar transport from the gut to the bloodstream seems like a great thing on the surface…the irreversible increase in gut permeability is just not worth it!”

PaleoLeap says: “Like other legumes, peanuts are problematic because they contain lectins and phytic acid, but peanuts also bring a new guest to the party: aflatoxins. Unless you’re picking your peanuts directly from the farm, you’re probably getting some aflatoxins with them, and they’re not something you want: some research has linked long-term consumption to aflatoxins with risk for diseases like cancer and hepatitis B. Unlike many other types of lectins, peanut lectins are also very difficult to destroy by cooking.”

So are peanuts Paleo?

No.

The lectins and aflatoxins in peanuts cause significant gut damage, which contributes to inflammation (and therefore all the inflammatory diseases, like heart disease and high blood pressure, among many others). Because even normally tried-and-true methods of toxin removal like sprouting and fermenting don’t remove the lectins from peanuts, they’re not a good choice for anyone trying to follow a wholesome, toxin-free diet.

Issue No. 53

Are Carrots Paleo?

Carrots photoFor many, it’s hard to resist the sweet, crisp crunch of a delicious orange carrot. From carrot sticks to delectable carrot cake, we’ve managed to find quite a few spots to stuff this bright veggie into our lives. Because it’s a vegetable, we can expect it to be a great addition to the Paleo diet—right? But what about its sweet, sugary nature? Maybe we’d be better off ditching carrots after all.

There are two main reasons that carrots play such a central role in the vegetable section of our foods—first, they’ve been cultivated over hundreds of years to encourage that sweet, robust orange root that we enjoy. Originally, they were bred for their leaves and seeds (did you know carrots are related to herbs like cumin?). Second, carrots have been a big part of the cuisine of many cultures of thousands of years. They originated in the area once known as Persia (now the countries around Afghanistan), and careful cultivation and trade has spread them across the globe.

Many people cite carrots’ impressive vitamin A content as a huge reason to include them in your diet. Researchers have confirmed that the beta-carotene in carrots is a major contributor to vitamin A consumption (the oranger the carrot, the better!), and vitamin A is known to reduce damaging oxidation and improve eye health. However, carrots are also sweet, and while delicious, this sugar could pose a problem for insulin regulation. In addition, some forms of carrots (particularly baby carrots) have been washed in a chlorine solution that infuses a small amount of chlorine into the plant. That’s certainly a toxin no one wants to have floating around in their bloodstream!

With both pros and cons to carrot consumption, it can be tough to tell whether they should be a bigger part of the Paleo diet.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Alison Ver Halen says: “What gives carrots their characteristic orange color is B-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Carrots also contain significant amounts of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium, so just because these roots come with a little sugar, is no reason to exclude them from your diet.”

PaleoGrubs says: “Carrots are a nice food to keep around because they come in many forms, and are easy to take with you while on the go. Drop a bag of baby carrots into your cart on your next shopping run and you’ll see that they make a cool crisp snack you can enjoy anywhere and they won’t weigh you down.”

So are carrots Paleo?

Yes!

Carrots are a great source of many vitamins and minerals, and they’re easy to store and use anywhere you go. To avoid the chlorine problem, opt for organic carrots—especially whole ones and not pre-packaged baby carrots, which undergo the bulk of the rinsing. Don’t forget you can also eat the carrot tops!

Issue No. 54

Is Grapefruit Paleo?

Grapefruit photoFor many years, grapefruit has been a staple for people looking to lose weight—it’s satisfying, low in calories, and full of nutrients like vitamins. Known to be extremely acidic, however, grapefruits contain furanocoumarins that actually keep your stomach from performing some of its regular functions. That doesn’t sound like a good thing! So is this sour fruit a good thing to keep on your countertop, or should you ditch the grapefruits for other options in the Paleo lifestyle?

An originally sub-tropical fruit, grapefruits are the product of a unique process called natural hybridization—when two species of plants get crossed and create a new sub-species. In this case, the grapefruit’s parents were from Asia: the pomelo and the sweet orange. The new species took up residence in Barbados and the surrounding area, branching into the multiple varieties we know today (Ruby Red, Star Ruby, etc).

Grapefruits have been shown to reduce arterial stiffness, improve blood pressure, and add a healthy dose of vitamins (A, C) and other nutrients that are difficult to get in sufficient quantities (like biotin). However, as mentioned previously, the chemicals in grapefruit inhibit stomach acid from doing its job. Does that mean that grapefruits are really great or not so much? It can be hard to tell.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Alison Ver Halen says: “You can…obtain benefits from eating grapefruit. It is low in sugar and high in anti-oxidants, both of which are beneficial. Just don’t go eating piles of them on a daily basis, and always go for the whole fruit instead of the juice whenever possible. The fruit has beneficial fiber to lower blood sugar and feed your gut bacteria, whereas store-bought juice is likely to have added sugar.”

Loren Cordain says: “Given…the possibility of increased sugar in juices, my suggestion instead would be to eat grapefruit whole instead, as we recommend with other fruit and vegetables when following a Paleo diet. Moreover, careful chewing has been shown to stimulate the release of 2 intestinal peptides which decrease appetite and food intake. This indicates more benefits for you to actually eat a grapefruit, instead of drinking the juice.”

So is grapefruit Paleo?

Yes, but be cautious.

Grapefruits themselves are a great source of nutrients, and they can be tasty and a convenient snack. However, the reason that grapefruits are sometimes considered “dangerous” is because of the furanocoumarins mentioned earlier that inhibit gut function. This doesn’t affect your day-to-day stomach health; the only time this will really be important is if you are taking medications. Grapefruit is known to interact with a large number of medications, so always check to be sure that you can consume grapefruit if you are taking any medicines, either prescribed, over-the-counter, or herbal. You can find a rather extensive list of medicines that interact with grapefruit here. Do some research and ask your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet; otherwise, you may be neutralizing your medicine as you take it.

Article by: Carrie Ott

Issue No. 55

Spotlight on an Awesome Paleo Food:  Brussels Sprouts

“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.” ~ J. O’Rourke (1947 – )

Brussels Sprouts generally drive folks into one of two camps–they love them or detest them.  First grown in Italy during the Roman Empire, the sprouts we’re most familiar with may have been cultivated en masse in Belgium (hence the origin of “Brussels”) around 1587. They were then introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s.  Today’s varieties are less bitter than their ancient cousins and make a quick and easy side dish. They also offer some really valuable health benefits . Here are some great reasons to give these mini cabbages a try:

  1. Brussels Sprouts are members of the cruciferae (or mustard) family and are closely related to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.  Components in crucifers have been proven in lab studies to stop the growth of cancer cells in tumors of the breast, uterus, cervix, lung, colon and liver.
  2. Brussels Sprouts contain glucosinolates, compounds that may also prevent the development of cancer.
  3. Brussels Sprouts contain a decent amount of fiber and are low in calories.   With just 25 calories and almost 3 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup cooked, they’ll fill you up and suppress the urge to overeat.
  4. Brussels Sprouts may also guard against cardiovascular disease. One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed more than 100,000 men and women for up to 14 years and found that eating 1/2 cup or more of cruciferous vegetables each day reduced the risk of ischemic stroke by 32 percent.
  5. Brussels Sprouts pack a hearty dose of Vitamin C, which protects the immune system, fights cardiovascular disease and cancer, and promotes eye health.    In fact, sprouts contain nearly fifty percent more Vitamin C than an orange, per serving.
  6. Brussels Sprouts are a good source of several key vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamins A and K, manganese, potassium, calcium and folic acid.
  7. Unlike many vegetables, Brussels Sprouts contain modest amounts of protein, with 2 grams of protein in a half cup of cooked sprouts.

Issue No. 13

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