Quinoa Confusion

I’m not sure how certain foods became so Paleo-confusing.   Often, I’m asked whether this food or that food is Paleo.   One in particular that seems to be mistaken for being part of Paleo is quinoa.

Perhaps because it’s commonly referred to as a ‘seed-like’ grain, one might suspect that if it were actually a seed, it might be ok in moderation, along with the other raw seeds and nuts we can incorporate as a garnish now and then.

Yes, it’s gluten-free, but we all know that gluten-free certainly does not equal Paleo friendly.

All seeds and nuts have anti nutrients, just like grains and legumes.  So why are seeds and nuts acceptable (again, I stress, acceptable in moderation) but grains and legumes are not?

It all comes down to portions.

Think of the amount of rice or beans or pasta someone who is not Paleo might eat at any given meal and compare that to the amount of nuts or seeds that same person might eat at that same meal.  Set aside the fact that many Americans are eating portions far too big; let’s use a more reasonable scenario.

Perhaps a man of 6′ tall were to eat a typical ‘healthy’ lunch as recommended by MyPlate.  He might have a cup of fresh veggies, a palm sized amount of protein, a cup and a half of brown rice or quinoa and maybe he’d sprinkle on a little feta and a scant handful of nuts.

The key phrases being ‘a cup and a half of grains’ versus ‘a scant handful of nuts’.   In addition, since nuts and seeds are meant only as that occasional garnish, both due to the phytic acid they contain as well as the fact that they’re all high in inflammatory Omega 6s and low in healthy Omega 3s, we’re only eating them once in a while, further reducing our exposure to those nasty phytates.

We can reduce the amount of phytates by soaking the raw nuts, but still, keep it in check and only rely on them as a once in a while, small part of a meal or snack, not a daily go-to.

Take away message- no grains, even the gluten free ones, the ‘ancient’ ones and the ‘seed-like’ ones are part of the Paleo diet.

They’re just fillers and are so easily replaced with a bed of your favorite fresh, local, seasonal veggies, which have seven to eleven times the amount of dietary fiber of grains and a plethora of vitamins, minerals and every last nutrient you need, without any of the negative compounds provided by grains.