Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is a seed that is harvested from a species of a plant called goosefoot. It is officially a seed and part of a group of pseudocereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain, and more closely related to spinach and beets than to cereals or grains.
It is because of this unusual categorization that many people are confused as to what quinoa actually is and how it affects the health of people who eat it regularly. A person could read ten different articles about quinoa and get nearly as many different theories about it and where it belongs in a healthy diet.
So, Is Quinoa Paleo?
Well, yes and no. This is a vague answer but that’s because the position of quinoa in a paleo diet depends on the individual whose diet it is. Let’s explore this a bit.
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How Does Quinoa Fit in The Paleo Diet?
Quinoa is technically not a grain, which makes many people jump to the immediate conclusion that it is paleo. It is a seed and many other seeds are allowed, so why not quinoa?
This is a good point and, for those looking for a grain alternative that has much less potential for damage than regular grains, quinoa is often a good choice. With that being said, quinoa actually does contain some of the same potentially harmful properties as grains.
How Doesn’t Quinoa Fit in The Paleo Diet?
Wheat products are avoided on the paleo diet because they need to be heavily processed to be consumed. This goes against the very basis of the paleo way of thinking and eating.
Beyond that, they are avoided because they contain gluten, saponins, and lectins, among other anti-nutrients, which have been shown to be harmful to the lining of a person’s digestive system as well as their immune system. Many people don’t process quinoa effectively and, because of that, they should avoid it.