Friday, August 23, 2013

Follow Up: The Paleo Diet

Thanks for all the great feedback from my last article about the Paleo Diet! If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here:
There were some questions that came up and I’d like to take just a minute to address a few of those...

Q: If peanuts aren’t nuts, what ARE they?
A: Peanuts are actually legumes, just like beans and peas. The interesting thing about peanuts, though, is that their nutritional make-up is much more similar to a nut than a bean, which is why they are often mixed in with other true nuts. Compared to other legumes, they are much higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates, but they are also higher in protein than most nuts.
After doing some more research, I found out that peanuts CAN be eaten raw, but there are a couple of things to watch out for:
1. All legumes are notoriously hard to digest. The following quote explains why:
“Legumes are notable for their high levels of both carbohydrates and protein, and we tend to digest them poorly, as evidenced by the gas that we get after consumption. One of the reasons for this is that humans produce very little of the starch digestion enzymes known as amylases when compared to legume-eating animals like pigs.”
2. Raw peanuts are very susceptible to a toxic fungus.
“The largest danger of the consumption of raw peanuts is the possible presence of aflatoxin, a poison produced by a fungus that may be present on unroasted peanuts. Roasted peanuts pose a significantly lower risk of carrying the fungus responsible for aflatoxin.”

Q: Can you actually eat raw meat?

Raw meat
A: Absolutely! In fact, there’s a growing number of people that say eating raw meat is much better for you. Not only are muscle and organ meats not toxic, they’re filled with tons of nutrients and minerals, many of which are destroyed when you cook them.
The problem with raw meat is the potential for bacteria and parasites. A lot of nasty stuff is introduced through food processing and packaging, and even some wild game is susceptible to particular strains of parasite. The trick is making sure you have a high-quality source for your meat.
If you want to try it, be very, very selective about where you buy and NEVER eat raw ground meat (unless you find the flavor of E. coli and Salmonella irresistible). Bacteria live on the surface of a cut of meat, but can’t penetrate the muscle; so generally a good searing will get rid of all the nasties. Ground meat, however, gives bacteria free reign of anywhere it wants to go, which is why you need to cook it until you don’t see any more pink.

Q: Do cave-women still get to eat chocolate?'s like a seed
A: Hmmm...okay, how do I answer this without having to sleep on the cave-futon?
Chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean, which is the dried, fermented seed of the cacao tree. I’m pretty sure this means that chocolate is actually a type of seed and, therefore, paleo-friendly.  :)
Seriously, though, if you were to eat one of those 100% cacao bars, I think you could make an argument that it was strictly legit on the Paleo Diet. Unfortunately, I’ve also heard it’s about like eating a bar of charcoal...blech!

100% Cacao challenge!  (Warning: foul language and not for the weak of stomach)