What Paleo Dieters Need To Know About Quinoa

When the time has come to get in shape, nothing can motivate us like following an eating plan that puts us in new, exciting culinary territory. While we can choose any kind of diet we like, some food regimens prove very effective, while others might fall short. According to the Mayo Clinic, the paleo diet can offer up some amazing results by modeling the diet on what people ate during the Paleolithic era, about 10,000 years ago. Approved foods include fish, fruit, lean meats, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as oils derived from nuts and seeds. This also means that you can't indulge in modern staples like any kind of dairy, salt, refined sugars, or grains. 

Certain items fall into a gray area between these clearly identified food categories. If you start a paleo diet and encounter quinoa, the question arises if it can get classified as a seed or a grain. If you hoped to include it in your prehistoric eating plan, think again! According to Healthline, quinoa technically gets classified as a seed but has so many qualities that resemble grains that it has a problem fitting into a paleo diet. If you want to pursue a hunter-gatherer diet, you have to steer clear of this deceptive seed, or else you can undo all your progress.

Why paleo dieters should avoid this ancient seed

If you love quinoa, you have to say goodbye to the staple for awhile if you want to pursue a paleo eating plan. According to Healthline, quinoa gets omitted from the diet due to certain varieties of the seed causing immune responses in individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, while others spurn the seed on the diet due to the food containing saponins, an unpalatable pest-repellant that naturally develops on quinoa (via PubMed). Despite quinoa's absence in the paleo diet, don't think the food presents any negative effects. Most evidence indicates that quinoa has a ton of positive health benefits, they just don't align with the mission of the eating plan.

If you decide to abstain from all modern foods, just remember to cut quinoa out, or you can reverse all of your hard work on the paleo diet. But if you decide to follow a less strict version of paleo, you can embrace high-fiber, high-protein quinoa — just be sure to rinse it before you use it (via Healthline).