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Did Our Ancestors Eat Just Meat?

First, it depends where the ancestors lived on the planet. Humans living in northerly, cold climates had no choice but to eat diets composed mostly of meat.  In the past, it was theorized that humans ate mostly meat and some in-season fruit, root and greens that were raw. However, now scientists are changing their thinking about what our human ancestors ate 10.000+ years ago.

Recently, scientists found evidence that plants were cooked over 10,000 years ago.

Why does this matter? Think about all of the plants that are only edible after cooking. Also, cooking creates more nutrient-dense food, which has been proposed to have increased human brain size.

Paleo and primal diets have stressed the importance of foods that ancient (very ancient) ancestors used to eat. Primarily focusing on high-quality meat, fish and game, and some plant. In the light of this new research, it’s very probable and possible that our ancient ancestors ate more plants than we previously gave our ancient Caveman and lady credit for.

Scientists recently found evidence of ceramic pots and cooked plants inside of the vessels. Our caveman ancestors could have been boiling plants and processing different plants for a larger diet range.

Dr Julie Dunne, lead author of the paper and post-doctoral researcher, said: “Until now, the importance of plants in prehistoric diets has been under-recognised but this work clearly demonstrates the importance of plants as a reliable dietary resource.

“These findings also emphasis the sophistication of these early hunter-gatherers in their utilisation of a broad range of plant types, and the ability to boil them for long periods of time in newly invented ceramic vessels would have significantly increased the range of plants prehistoric people could eat.”

Is Donor Breastmilk Really Best for Preemies?

Should Preemies Use Donor Breastmilk?

 

You have probably heard the quote “breast is best.” This is true for all babies regardless if the breastmilk is from the baby’s mother or other sources. 

Preemies are especially susceptible to more illness and disabilities later in life. In the past, preemies have been mostly excluded from donor breast milk due to the fact that doctors and hospitals were concerned with the safety of the breast milk.

Research shows that donor breast milk CAN be incredibly beneficial for preemie babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the governing body for pediatric doctors, has embraced breast milk in the neonatal unit, if “proper safety measures” are used in the hospital.

The AAP does discourage buying donor breast milk from online sources and “milk-sharing”.

How is donor breastmilk safe?

Donors are screened for hepatitis and HIV, and the milk is pasteurized and sometimes the milk is cultured for bacterial contamination. Although pasteurization does kill “good” bacteria, this is seen as a necessary step for the vulnerable infant.

Why is breastmilk best?

Breastmilk is the IDEAL nutrition for an infant. The list of benefits is long and even effects the child for the rest of his or her life. For a quick and dirty list, breastmilk helps fight off viruses, bacteria, infections, allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, reduces hospitalization, fewer ear infections, fewer respiratory illness, etc.

Mother’s breastmilk is best for the infant, but if that’s not possible than using donor breastmilk could be the next best thing – even for preemies.

Photo by j2dread

Why “Mommy Brain” is a Good Thing.

Why “Mommy Brain” is a Good Thing!

Being a mother, 3 times over, one thing that seems to weaken every time is my memory and brain. The first couple years are usually a blur of late-night feedings, teething woes, bumps and bruises and trying to remember anything beyond this new bundle of energy.

Many times, I have talked with other moms about having “mommy brain”. Forgetting important events, showing up late or completely forgetting events never happened prior to kids. Now, it’s a weekly occurrence.

New research just out shows that “mommy brain” is a good thing!

Here’s what happens.

After giving birth, moms had greatly reduced gray matter in the brain associated with social interactions. These long-term changes were theorized to improve a mom’s ability to protect and nurture her child. AND the areas of the brain that retain memories and thinking functions had no changes.

These changes lasted for at least the first two years after birth. Researchers theorize that this is an evolutionary change for mother’s to develop emotional attachments to her baby. Further, the more changes to the mother’s brain, the higher the emotional attachment.

So, maybe “mommy brain” is a good thing.

What do you think?

Health Benefits and Uses of Turkey

It’s Turkey time again—time when you sit down with family, watch a football game if you’re so inclined, and pass the food with all the fixings. Front and center in the biggest food celebration of the year is turkey, the nearly ubiquitous Thanksgiving meat. Around 7 billion pounds of turkey (that’s 10 Empire State Buildings!) are produced yearly in the US, so if you’re a fan of the bird, you’re in luck. You can thank Sarah Josepha Hale, writer of the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb, for convincing Abraham Lincoln that America should have an official turkey day.

Contrary to popular belief, though, it’s not the tryptophan in turkey that makes you sleepy. This is a widely believed myth. In reality, you get sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because you simply ate too much. The overindulgence in carbs and sometimes alcohol contribute to blood sugar spikes that tire your body out. But that doesn’t mean that a big serving of turkey is bad for you! In fact, turkey (in moderate portions, of course) is a great source of many nutrients.

Why is Turkey Good for You?

  1. Vitamins. Turkey contains lots of vitamin B6, which improves immune function and supplements the body’s key systems. Vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively common.
  2. Selenium. The selenium found in turkey carries a whole host of health benefits—too many to discuss—but among them are noted improvements in Alzheimer’s patients, better management of diabetes, and less incidence of benign tumors. Many people are deficient in selenium, and if fish (another great source) is not one of your favorite foods, turkey is a great alternative.
  3. Tryptophan. This chemical isn’t responsible for making you sleepy—in fact, it helps to balance blood sugar (which is the actual source of the sleepiness problem; you just don’t get enough turkey compared to everything else you eat on Thanksgiving). Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces serotonin, a mood stabilizer. It improves mental health and immune function.

Those are just a few of the great things about turkey. But before you go out and buy packages and packages of turkey meat to snack on every day, there are a few things you should know. Buying packing turkey deli meat isn’t a good choice—it’s often loaded with sodium and is extremely processed, so there are many things besides actual turkey meat hiding in there. Slow-cooking or baking a fresh turkey is the way to go. But how do you know that your turkey is fresh?

How Do You Choose Good Turkeys?

  1. Don’t believe your grocery store’s “fresh” label without asking the butcher when the turkey was actually prepared. Many stores label their turkeys as “fresh” even though they were packaged 9 months or more ago!
  2. Turkeys that are raised and then sold the same day or the day after they are harvested have a more intense flavor and better texture than frozen turkeys, so if you have a local butcher or meat shop, that will likely be your best bet. Local turkeys are also much less likely to have been given antibiotics and a grain-based diet.
  3. Choose turkey meat that is supple. Grainy or excessively firm meat should be avoided.

Turkeys are a great, nutritious meal anytime, but they really shine during the fall season. Remember that on average, you can plan for about a pound of turkey per person. This season, make sure turkey is on the menu and share it around!

Article by: Carrie Ott

Photo by Mike_fleming

Are Sardines Paleo?

One of my most vivid memories of elementary school is of sitting in one of our incredibly cramped, 20-person classrooms and eating lunch with friends. They’d be munching on zebra cakes and I would, with an excited smile, pop the lid off my little bin of sardines.

Apparently the smell of fish was less favorable to the 8-year-olds than the sweet aroma of those zebra cakes, because more often than not, I’d look up from my sardines to find myself sitting all alone.

What are Sardines?

I think part of the problem was that no one really knew what a sardine was—a small, whole fish also known as a pilchard. Belonging to the herring family, sardines are rather tiny, oily fish that you can buy fresh or in a can.

Because people tend not to eat whole animals anymore, the sardines were probably a bit off-putting to my classmates. Yet how I loved them so!

Are Sardines Healthy?

The truth of the matter is that sardines are a very resilient fish, and their size is a big factor in whether or not they are toxic.

Sardines are quite small, which means that they tend not to absorb the same amount of toxins as larger fish. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund lists sardines as some of the least-toxic fish you can eat.

Their mercury content is low, and these little fish are packed with not only a huge helping of omega-3s but also more than 100% of your daily recommended serving of vitamin B12! Vitamin B12 is responsible for keeping nerves and blood cells healthy, and it’s also extremely important for making DNA, so getting a whole bunch of it certainly isn’t a bad thing!

In addition, sardines are packed with vitamin D, which is one of the easiest nutrients to become deficient in nowadays—with people spending so much time inside, getting this vital nutrient from the sun is becoming harder and harder. Thankfully, sardines are one of the best foods for boosting your vitamin D.

Because sardines are low in toxicity and mercury, packed with nutrients, and cheap to boot, it seems like they may be a good addition to a Paleo lifestyle.

What do other Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “As for those species that offer both high omega-3s and low toxin risk, here are some budget-friendly samplings: light tuna, anchovies, sardines, Atlantic herring, and Atlantic mackerel. These species are generally wild caught. Because they’re tiny and low on the food chain, tiny fish [like sardines] will be largely free of the heavy metals other, larger fish tend to accumulate.”

Sébastien Noël says: “The next time you’re passing through the canned fish aisle, look a shelf above the cans of salmon, and consider the sardines as well. They’re convenient as a quick snack to throw into your purse or car, and…they provide a lot [of] nutrition.”

Are Sardines Paleo?

Definitely!

Sardines are a great source of many vitamins and minerals with very little toxicity. They’re small and cheap, and while you can eat them out of a can, be sure to choose wholesome varieties—sardines in water or olive oil are better than sardines in, say, mustard or soybean oil. Be sure to check ingredient labels, and enjoy your little fish! It’s okay, you can eat the bones too.

Issue No. 38

Is Beer Paleo?

Almost anywhere you go in the world, one thing you’re likely to be able to find is beer.

In fact, that’s one of beer’s largest draws—it can be fun to try to sample as many exotic varieties and microbrews as you can find.

What Is Beer, Anyway?

Beer is one of the oldest drinks in human history, dating back more than 7,000 years to ale, its most ancient form. In fact, some historians credit the making of beer as humanity’s first step toward technological advancement, since water wasn’t always safe to drink.

For the most part, beer is made from fermented barley. And unlike a drink like whisky, beer isn’t distilled, so it still contains many of the proteins and other components of the food that is fermented.
Increasingly, there are beers made from other fermented foods, but still, the great majority is made from barley.

Is Beer Healthy?

Believe it or not, there are possible health benefits to beer.

Beer has a big tendency to bring people together in fun social settings, and there is little doubt that hanging out with friends, relaxing, and laughing are all extremely healthy activities. And there is also no arguing with the overwhelming evidence that beer is chock full of B vitamins, particularly B3, B6, and B9, because of the yeast content.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that barley—which constitutes most beers—brings the same damage to our guts as we could expect from other gluten-containing grains like wheat. That means inflammation, disruption of gut flora, and all those nasties that arise from the gluten content of beer.

In addition, hops (a standard beer ingredient) is a huge source of phytoestrogens—the same toxin that makes eating soy not such a great idea because of the way the chemical reacts with our estrogen receptors.
Most importantly, however, we can’t forget about the alcohol. Alcohol is, plain and simple, a toxin, and the effect of alcohol on the brain is irrefutable.

So we’ve got some nice B vitamins in beer, but we’ve also got some toxins to worry about; where does that leave us?
Well, as far as researchers have learned, the evidence tends in one direction. Studies show that beer can do some strange things in our bodies, like making us more prone to passive overeating (when we eat way too much because it’s just there) and disrupting our natural sleep cycles. Beer has also been shown to increase the chances of developing multiple types of cancer, too. And it’s fairly well known that alcohol can have a negative impact on the liver.

It seems, then, that beer isn’t such a friendly drink after all, and Paleo experts tend to agree.

What do other Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “Overall, beers are pretty unPrimal. But if you can drink them without ill effect, I don’t think the occasional glass or bottle will do you much harm. Celiacs and gluten-sensitives should definitely steer clear, or opt for wine, cider, or other choices.”

The Paleo Mom says: “[If you’re working on autoimmune issues] make sure to stay away from any grain-based alcohols though, especially beer and ale which contain gluten. Alcohol is not good for anyone dealing with leaky gut issues. However, an occasional drink…is probably okay. Cooking with alcohol is also probably okay for most people, even if you don’t tolerate an actual drink. But once again, I do urge caution as you experiment to find where your individual line is.”

Is Beer Paleo?

No.

Beer is not Paleo, but remember that quantity and quality are also key here. Non-alcoholic gluten-free beers (they do exist, though they’re rare) are fine, and an occasional sip here and there isn’t going to decimate your body. However, one of the dangers of beer is that it is addictive—more so than marijuana, studies say. So because the negatives outweigh the positives by a longshot, why not just avoid beer and go for a nice, relaxing cup of your favorite Paleo drink?

Issue No. 38

Photo by Miss Dilettante

Is Tuna Paleo?

 

Until 2013 (when salmon surged ahead), tuna was the second-most popular seafood consumed in the U.S. And it’s not only in the U.S. that tuna is a favorite.

If you’ve ever been to a sushi restaurant, you’ve likely noticed that some of the most common cuts of sashimi are maguro and toro—in other words, types of tuna.

Fish is regularly touted as a very nutritious food, but it’s also common to hear warnings about certain seafood, including tuna.

So should you regularly consume tuna?

Is Tuna Healthy?

The main concern I hear about tuna is its mercury content.

Mercury poisoning is a scary thought, and we’ve all heard about the dangers of playing with old thermometers. Studies have shown that in rats and other animals, a diet excessively high in mercury can lead to stunted growth, deformed limbs, and mental disease.

However, the mercury concern in tuna (and in fish in general) is very much overstated, except in certain circumstances.

I won’t go into a great deal of detail in this article, but the short version is this: No good studies have ever shown any problem with eating seafood “high” in mercury other than a few species like shark and whale, or fish from polluted areas. The reason that these certain cases exist is because mercury’s harmful effects occur when it is in excess of selenium. And for almost all seafood (including tuna), selenium is higher than mercury.

If you want to read more on this issue, check out Chris Kresser’s great article.

On the other hand, tuna has many nutritious qualities that make consumption a great idea. It tends to be high in omega-3s, which are great anti-inflammatories that have shown tendencies to reduce heart disease and high blood pressure, in addition to calming down allergies and asthma.

Even better, tuna is rich in selenium, a nutrient that helps to normalize our bodies—it regulates our thyroid and hormones, assists with DNA synthesis, and protects our bodies from oxidative damage and infection.

And just generally, tuna is very dense in vitamins and minerals, something that we should frankly care a lot more about in our foods.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Robb Wolf says: “Maintaining adequate levels of selenium can protect us from mercury toxicity by binding to mercury as well as protecting us from oxidative damage. On top of that, the fish consumed by humans (except for the Mako shark and possibly some species of whales) contain more selenium than mercury. This makes it safe to get all the positive health aspects associated from eating fish 1-2 times per week.”

Mark Sisson says: “Tuna is tasty, especially the steaks, and it’s a decent source of omega-3s, but the mercury content can’t be ignored. Avoid if you are pregnant, nursing, or a small child, and don’t make tuna of any kind a daily staple. Look for troll and pole-caught tuna over longline-caught tuna, as the former tend to run smaller and accumulate fewer contaminants than the latter.”

Is Tuna Paleo?

Yes!

Issue No. 39

Photo by nedrichards

Is Coconut Milk Paleo?

Coconut milk photo
Photo by simpleprovisions

Is Coconut Milk Paleo?

Coconut milk has a few misconceptions swirling around the evolutionary foodie-verse about it— both about what it actually is and about whether 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 actually 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 equally. While a can of pure coconut milk sporting an ingredient list of coconut and water is pretty clear on where it falls on the Paleo spectrum, there are other health factors to consider. If it’s in a can, BPA (Bisphenol-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 additive s 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 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.

So, is it Paleo?

If you make your own from just coconut meat and water, then the answer is a resounding yes. Things get murky, however, when choosing store-bought brands. Depending on ingredients and personal preference in avoiding BPAs, it can be a bit of a judgment call on what type of coconut milk is acceptable on a Paleo regimen.

What do the Paleo gurus 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. ”

Conclusion?

Yes, coconut milk is Paleo-acceptable. But watch where it comes from and 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. 23

Why Alcohol Is Paleo 

The basic premise of leading a paleo lifestyle is to remove all processed foods and eliminate toxins from your body. This being said, alcohol is technically not paleo; it is both heavily processed and a toxin. A great deal of people who have made the switch to a paleo lifestyle, do so more in a new aged way. The first thing that they alter in the original paleo diet is the allowance of alcohol consumption. But under what premise do they convince themselves that alcohol should be considered paleo or at least a part of their paleo lifestyle despite the toxins in it?

Socialization

Typically speaking, the hardest part of eliminating alcohol from your life completely, is your social life. Going out to have a drink with friends or having a bottle of wine when you are gathering with family for the holidays, is about so much more than consuming alcohol. It has become a part of our natural bonding process. Many people find that when they switch to a paleo lifestyle, it can have an adverse effect on their social life. Going out to eat or to dinners with friends becomes a challenge. Choosing to leave the alcohol in their diet gives them their means of socialization and relaxation with the ones they cherish most.

Choosing the most “Paleo” Alcohol

While choosing to continue to consume alcohol, even after making the switch to a paleo lifestyle, may seem like you are throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the toxins going into your body; people still tend to search for the lesser of the evils.  Beer is easily at the very bottom of the list of items that could ever be considered paleo. It is made from barley, hops, and wheat; a big paleo don’t.  While, wine makes a more compelling argument for its paleo qualities. After all, it is made from fruit. Wine is considered to be the closest thing to paleo alcohol but similar to beer, it is fermented with sugar and starch, typically found in fruits. Spirits like vodka and whiskey, are also put through a fermentation process involving grains and are then distilled. The biggest issue with spirits is the amount of gluten found in them. While the distilling process removes a great deal of the gluten, this would still be a major issue for someone who switched to a paleo lifestyle for the purpose of being gluten free.

Possibly the most popular alcohol option for paleo lifestyle is hard cider. It is fermented and typically made from pears and apples; it is also available gluten free. Hard cider is the one alcohol that is considered to be paleo, though some hard ciders are not. You should always read the label and check for added sugar of the brand on hard cider before purchasing it. Hard cider is also available in organic options and sugar free option. While hard cider is made from paleo friendly ingredients, it is still a toxin. Alcohol is not only bad for your liver, it is addictive, can cause your body to prioritize detoxification over nutrients, can affect your blood sugar, and it is dehydrating.

Is Alcohol Really Paleo Friendly?

The bottom line is that; alcohol is not paleo in any form. Though, some forms are far better for you than others, it is still toxic to your body. Choosing to consume alcohol even though it doesn’t meet paleo guidelines is completely a personal choice. But if you are focused on healing your body from the inside out and only putting what’s good for you into it, it’s a toxin and toxic for your body and health just like processed snack foods that you have probably been dreaming about for some time. The question is, Is it worth it to you for the sake of socialization?

Is Chicken Paleo?

Chicken meal photo

Ah, those chicken wings—as a staple of the American diet, you can find them nearly everywhere: from restaurants to family get-togethers to big-game Sundays. Health-conscious people are eager to tout the goodness of chicken as an alternative to red meat and as a delicious source of protein. But is chicken really all that nutritious, or does it have toxins that should make Paleo dieters wary?

Chickens are raised in a variety of ways throughout the country, with the most common suppliers of chicken growing grain-fed farmed birds in large quantities. These chickens are raised quickly on a predetermined diet and health plan that includes medications and little exercise. Other sources of chicken give the bird free range and allow them to scavenge, feeding themselves on bugs and whatever else they can find. These birds are markedly different from the chickens produced by large companies, and all of this difference can make it difficult to decide if chicken really should be a Paleo choice.

So, is it Paleo?

Chicken meat varies greatly in its nutritional profile depending on what sort of chicken you’re eating. Toxins abound in non-pastured chicken meat; these chickens were raised on a diet of grain and were given antibiotics to keep them healthy because of the insufficiency of their diets. Needless to say, eating an antibiotic-laced chicken will have some negative consequences for you, too. In fact, this study explores how arsenic is used to help chickens to grow quickly. Arsenic is that mineral used to make glass and wood preservatives. And if the chickens are getting arsenic, you probably are too.

On the other hand, chickens raised in pastured farms are rich in vitamin E and folic acid, which helps to prevent anemia and increases the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients. Chickens that are not on a grain-based diet also have a much healthier omega-3/omega-6 ratio, which enables our bodies to process these fatty acids much more efficiently—the way nature intended. Many pastured chickens are antibiotic-free and will be labeled as such.

Because chicken seems to be a nutritious option if it’s bought from the right source, Paleo experts agree that chicken is a great part of a Paleo diet. Despite its nutrition benefits and versatile uses in all sorts of recipes, experts do caution that chicken is only a great option if it is not grain-fed and if it is antibiotic-free. Go with pastured or organic if possible, and if not, at least aim for meat with as little fat as possible.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “Breeding, feeding and other poultry farming standards result in animals that scarcely resemble each other, let alone taste the same. [Pastured] is the label I suggest looking for, but don’t be surprised if the search presents a challenge. If conventional is all you can afford or have access to it’s better than no meat at all. Just eat the leaner cuts, since toxins concentrate in fat.”

Sarah Ballantyne says: “[If you have to buy conventional instead of organic or pastured], limit consumption of chicken and other poultry, which probably has the highest omega-6 fatty acid content of any of the conventionally produced meat and poultry.”

So Is Chicken Paleo?

Yes!

Because of its great nutritional value and very few toxins, Paleo experts agree that chicken is a great addition to the Paleo plate. Be cautious, however, of what sort of chicken you buy; if you cannot afford or find pastured or organic chicken, choose the meat with the least amount of fat and limit your intake, as conventional chicken does come from birds that have been medicated.

Issue No. 29

Foods High in Omega-3 

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been discovered to be an essential part of our diets. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have a role in fighting off many illnesses and diseases, including: cancer, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, developmental disabilities, and atopic diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly known for being found in fish and fish oil supplements, but are also present in many other natural food sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of your daily diet that the human body does not produce on its own.

  • Flax Seeds and Flax Seed Oil 

Flax seeds contain 7483mg of omega-3 fatty acid per tablespoon. Though flax seeds are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other foods, the omeg-3 fatty acids in flax seeds are not as easily converted by the human body. While flax seeds are still a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, your body will not absorb the full 7483 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Salmon 

Fish is, overall, the best source for omega-3 fatty acids. Some fish, such as salmon, contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than others. Salmon is also an easily accessible fish that can be cooked with ease. Many other types of fish also contain a great deal of omega-3 fatty acids, such as, mackerel, sardines, white fish, anchovies, and herring. Fish remains the most popular source of omega-3 fatty acids, both when consumed from fish or fish oil supplement’s.

  • Walnuts 

Walnuts are the only nuts that are considered a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain approximately 2,664 mg of omega-3 per ¼ of a cup. While walnuts may not be your favorite snack, it is important to remember how versatile of an ingredient they are. Walnuts are easy to include in your daily diet, sometime without you really even noticing. Some great ways to sneak in this healthy little nut is by adding them to homemade granola, use them in pesto, or even ground up for a pie crust.

  • Chia Seeds 

If you haven’t heard if chia seeds, you should check out my previous post on their benefits! Chia seeds are an up and coming super food that contain 2,457 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in one tiny tablespoon. Chia seeds also contain a great deal of protein and other essential nutrients. Chia seeds are extremely easy to fit into your daily diet; they are most commonly added to smoothies for and extra protein punch.

  • Leafy Greens 

While leafy greens don’t contain as much omega-3 as the other mentioned foods, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pointing out. Leafy greens such as, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, watercress, Brussel sprouts, etc. are not only a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids but also an ideal source of fiber!

Is Coffee Paleo?

coffee photo

For many people, the morning isn’t fueled by the excitement of a great day—it’s fueled by coffee.

And when the 3 p.m. blues comes around, guess who’s up for coffee round 2 (or round 5 or 6)? With coffee houses popping up everywhere and coffee pots just getting easier (and cheaper) to use, it’s no wonder that this energizing drink has quickly risen to claim a spot as one of the most-consumed beverages in the world.

But should you run off and pour yourself another mug, or is it time to shut the kitchen coffeemaker down for good?

Is Coffee Healthy?

It’s not surprising that a good bit of research has been done into how coffee affects the human body.

We know that it can definitely give us a jolt (that’s the caffeine), but does it do anything else for us? As it turns out, there’s more to coffee than meets the eye (or, I suppose, the taste buds). Studies show that drinking coffee reduces the risk of cancer, especially in the colon and prostate. It can also reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, and another study showed that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of coffee you drink and how likely you are to die from general and specific causes.

(To be completely frank, coffee isn’t a miracle food. Despite some claims to the contrary, the potential benefits of coffee are relatively small.)
In addition, there are a few things to watch out for with coffee.

In particular, watch what you put in your coffee. The studies above show the benefits of coffee—not mochas, lattes with flavored syrup, or coffee with ice cream and sprinkles. From processed sugar to dairy, it’s the add-ins that cause the greatest issues.

Finally, if you have or think you might have adrenal fatigue, then it’s probably a good idea to cut the coffee (and all caffeine) out of your diet, since it will only stress your adrenals more, which will slow your recovery.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “The overwhelming majority of the observational literature finds that coffee is linked to lower body weight and protection from type 2 diabetes. [To get the most out of your coffee,] get up and move around a bit when you drink. Since that coffee has just liberated a bunch of fatty acids from your adipose tissue, use them! If you don’t, the bulk of those fatty acids will simply be recycled back into your body fat. Remember that coffee isn’t just caffeine. It is a whole plant food/drink with hundreds of bioactive compounds beyond just caffeine….The taste and health effects of coffee thusly depend on dozens of factors, and that’s why coffee has different effects on different people as reflected across dozens of studies.”

Robb Wolf says: “If you have to ask, ‘If I can’t have sugar, coffee mate, cream, etc. in my morning cup, what can I do to make it taste good?’, then you really need to question the reasons behind your habit. Is it replacing sleep, masking a sugar or cream fix, or do you just REALLY like that Starbucks cup? If you truly ENJOY coffee for all of its warm, black deliciousness and you don’t have any compelling health or lifestyle reasons to avoid it, then I am not going to steal your ‘morning thunder.’ Keep on keeping on (with an occasional detox to clean things out). But, if on the other hand your coffee needs a mate(s), or you’re using it as a means to function in the AM; take the time to conduct a CSI (Coffee Scene Investigation).”

So is coffee Paleo?

Yes.

However, with great deliciousness comes great responsibility. Avoid allowing coffee to become a crutch for poor sleep or stress management patterns, and be aware that the health effects of coffee don’t count for much when you drown it in sugar or processed cream.

For maximum health benefits, take your coffee black or with coconut oil and ghee.

Issue No. 34

Is Edamame Paleo?

Edamame photo
Photo by Magic Robot

If you’re like many people, you hear the word edamame and ask, “Eda-what?”

Edamame, which is the Japanese word for “twig bean” (eda=twig, mame=bean), is—you guessed it—a kind of bean. Basically, you can think of edamame as boiled green soybeans, and their healthful benefits have been touted far and wide ever since Faith Hill started snacking on them backstage during concerts. But is edamame really a healthful Paleo option?

Edamame are the babies of the soy family—young, and still in the pods—but that doesn’t make them any less of a soy product. So for those following the Paleo lifestyle, where soy and its toxins are well-known and completely unwelcome, edamame is already down by a few points. Soy contains powerful toxins, especially phytoestrogens (note the term “estrogen” in that word). These toxins interact with estrogen receptors in the body, which can throw off hormones and lead to a whole host of unwanted side effects; one study discovered a possible link between phytoestrogens and irregularities in the prostate, including cancer.

Additionally, edamame is unfermented, meaning that toxins like phytic acid and gluten have not been broken down by the fermentation process. All of these toxins contribute to general inflammation and intestinal irritation, so knowing that we can find them in edamame is yet another strike against these little beans.

However, it may be too early to throw edamame out of the race just yet. Compared to other sources of soy, edamame has a clear advantage: the fatty acids are mostly monounsaturated (which is great!), and compared to mature soybeans, edamame’s phytoestrogen levels are quite low. The beans also have a decent amount of magnesium and folate, a B-vitamin that helps our body to replicate DNA and divide cells properly. That’s pretty important!
Since edamame have both toxins and helpful nutrients, it can be difficult to know just where on the Paleo spectrum these baby beans fall.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “Not Primal, but don’t stress over a couple handfuls at a sushi restaurant. While I wouldn’t make it a regular part of my diet, edamame appears to be relatively benign as an occasional snack. Just don’t eat bucketfuls, don’t make it baby’s first food, and don’t get into edamame pancakes or some silliness like that.”

The team at Whole9 says: “Do not eat legumes. This also includes all forms of soy—soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, tamari and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).”

So is edamame Paleo?

No, but don’t panic if you slip up.

Because edamame has lower levels of toxins compared to other forms of soy, fitting it in as an occasional snack might be fine. It’s not really that bad, but avoiding it entirely is still the best option.

Issue No. 30

Photo by Magic Robot

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