Here at Heavy 2 Healthy, we often get asked if quinoa is paleo. This is a common question on the paleo diet scene because there is lots of controversy surrounding quinoa. So why all the controversy surrounding quinoa? Quinoa has been hailed as a superfood, is gluten free, is very high in protein and nutrient dense so is a popular alternative to grains. On the other hand, quinoa can cause a range of digestive problems because it contains saponins, lectins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid.
Saponins have soap like properties and are said to cause inflammation. Lectins can have a negative reaction in many people. Protease inhibitors prevent the digestive enzymes from braking down the seed and over consuming of foods containing protease inhibitors can damage the pancreas over time. Phytic acid stops us from absorbing minerals so can result in mineral deficiencies which can cause disease such as rickets.
What others say;
“One of the most popular choices in grain alternatives, particularly among the more moderate paleo set, is quinoa. Technically not a grain but a relative of green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard, quinoa is a complete protein that offers a respectable serving of all nine essential amino acids as well as a strong showing of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.”
“Quinoa is botanically not a grain, but because it has evolved in a similar biological niche, Quinoa has similar properties to grains, including chemical defense systems that irritate the gut. In the case of Quinoa, it contains soap-like molecules called saponins. Unlike gluten, which attaches to a carrier molecule in the intestines, saponins simply punch holes in the membranes of the microvilli cells. Yes, that’s bad. Saponins are so irritating to the immune system that they are used in vaccine research to help the body mount a powerful immune response. The bottom line is if you think grains or grain-like items like Quinoa are healthy or benign, you are not considering the full picture.”
Is Quinoa Paleo?
Yes!!! Here at Heavy 2 Healthy we consider quinoa to be a paleo food and can be consumed occasionally. Although there is much divided opinion about quinoa we consider quinoa to be healthy as it contains all of the nine essential amino acids the body needs. It is much higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc then other grains such as wheat and corn. It also contains other vitamin E and other minerals.
Quinoa, our suggestion
We suggest you eat quinoa occasionally for variety. If you’re strictly undertaking the Paleo Diet for weight loss, then you may want to avoid quinoa at first due to its high carbohydrate content. Listen to your body and if your having digestive problems after consuming quinoa then avoid. If your using quinoa to move away from grains and other starchy foods then it is a great alternative. If your using the 80/20 rule, then use 20% for some tasty quinoa recipes.