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Is Quinoa Paleo Friendly?

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Is Quinoa Paleo?

Hailed as a superfood, quinoa is gluten free, high in protein and nutrient dense. All valid reasons as to why it has become an popular alternative to traditional grains. Infact, the United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, “to raise awareness of the nutritional, economic, environmental and cultural value of a food that has been traditionally cultivated for thousands of years.”

But is quinoa all it’s cracked up to be?

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a flowering plant native to the Andes in South America. The crop is grown primarily for its small bead-like seeds that are commercially available in white, red and black. When cooked, the tiny round seeds resemble couscous. The seed is also processed into flakes and flour.

You’ve probably heard quinoa described as a ‘pseudograin’ (or ‘pseudocereal’). This term is given to plants that are used in the same way as grains (like wheat, rice and oats) but are from a different botanical family. Amaranth, buckwheat, chia, and quinoa are all pseudograins. Quinoa is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) and it’s closest relatives are beets, spinach and chard.

13 Comments
  1. Thanks for this explanation – it’s clear and thorough. I am just beginning to try a diet to deal with gut / immune issues and live somewhere where cauliflower and many of the promoted alternative foods cost a bomb because they’re imported, so glad to get good info that will help me decide what to spend my money on

    1. It’s really about learning what you can tolerate. There are certainly many benefits for going completely grain-free, especially if you have gut/immune issues, but after initial reset, it is so handy to be able to have a few more options on hand.

  2. I am a tiny bit confused. If I both sprout and then cook pseudograins in a pressure cooker-have I managed to destroy all the antinutrients? I have such a fast metabolism I really need extra carbs.

    1. I think you’ll be reducing a decent amount. Both my partner and I are quite active and slim, so we also need extra carbs, and I enjoy a bit of quinoa and even white rice in moderation. I would say white rice is even safer, especially if you use it as a carrier for healthier foods like fish and veggies.

  3. Please check a research paper that came out about 3 years ago (I can search for you if you’re interested in updating the article). They found that 3 out of 15 varieties of quinoa were inducing gluten-related symptoms to celiac people. It also happened that these 3 problematic varieties were all of the red color kind. So, not all quinoas are equal. I personally avoid quinoa, and buckwheat. I don’t respond well to them.

      1. Hey Alice,

        Thanks for notifying us. The ads are automated and are served through Google and another ad platform. The way they work is that different ads show to different people depending on various factors (location, gender if they know it, search and browsing history etc). I don’t often know what ads are showing up to different people until they let me know, I can only see what’s showing up to me. Once we know that a particular brand shows up, we can block that going forward. So thanks for letting us know.

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  4. Wonderful quinoa. I soak my quinoa, and all grains, in whey water to reduce the phytates. I realize grains are not paleo…. I do for the most part eat paleo, but sometimes I need grains, desperately, and then I can move on.

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