Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 May

Is It Primal? – Cashews, Fermented Soy, Vinegar and Other Foods Scrutinized

cashewsLast week, I scrutinized the “Primality” of ten commonly wondered-about foods. It garnered a lot of follow-up comments and emails, so I figured I’d do another round. This time I only covered eight, but I hope you’ll forgive me. If you’ve ever wanted to know about cashews, wheatgrass, fermented soy, vinegar, almond milk, hummus, royal jelly, or green coffee bean extract (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?), this is the perfect post for you.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Cashews

In all my years doing this stuff, I’ve never really properly addressed the suitability of cashews. Today that ends. Cashews are the seeds of the cashew apple, a delicacy of Brazil, and the interior of their shells are lined with a poisonous resin called cashew balm. Cashew balm is used in insecticides, so don’t go shelling your own cashews. So what’s the deal? Are they good to go, as long as you avoid the balm?

The cashew is high in monounsaturated fat (7.6 g per ounce) and, while it contains a decent amount of omega-6s (2.2 g per ounce), it’s lower in polyunsaturated fats than Primal favorites like almonds (3.5 g per ounce).

The cashew is, however, one of the richest sources of phytic acid in the nut and seed world, containing more phytate than almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and chestnuts. For that reason, I consider it helpful (and perhaps paramount) to soak your raw cashews before consuming them – especially if you’re trying to get over tooth decay or combat osteoporosis.

The big problem I see with cashews is the tendency of folks to gorge on the little guys. It’s just something about a roasted, salted, buttery cashew that promotes overeating. Be wary of that.

Verdict: Primal. Whatever you do, just don’t put the balm on!

Wheatgrass

This is a perplexing one. On the one hand, it’s wheat. We hate wheat. Wheat is anything but Primal. On the other hand, it’s grass, and aren’t we Primals always going on and on about the benefits of grass-feeding? So what’s the deal?

Wheat starts out as a “grass,” technically, and wheatgrass juice is derived from cotyledons of the common wheat plant. The cotyledon of a grass is the part of the seed that becomes the first leaves to sprout upon germination. After a chemist found that feeding his ailing chickens fresh wheatgrass improved their health and increased their egg output, the wheatgrass craze was ignited.

I’m not sure I follow. I’m all for fresh wheatgrass for chickens – heck, I’d even juice it for them if it meant more eggs – but I fail to see the relevance to human diets. Is there nutrition in wheatgrass? Sure. Is it accessible to humans if we pulverize the cellulose and extract the juices? Probably. But just check out the Wiki article, which has a table comparing the nutritional content of wheatgrass juice to spinach and broccoli. Spinach is clearly superior, almost across the board, with more magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and beta-carotene. Plus, it tastes better (read: not like lawn clippings) and is a lot less expensive.

Is it gluten-free? Well, maybe. Since gluten is mostly found in the endosperm of a wheat grain, and wheatgrass is just the grass, not the seed (let alone the endosperm), it’s probably gluten-free. I wouldn’t recommend it to celiacs, but I doubt it’s a big issue here.

Verdict: Could be Primal, but why? It’s probably great as ruminant feed.

Fermented Soy

I’ve said my piece on soy before: it’s potentially phytoestrogenic, mildly carcinogenic, mineral-binding, and goitrogenic. Its oil is in everything nowadays, and most of our animals are a third soybean meal. Bad stuff all around. But that was about soy-based products and processed soy; what about fermented soy? What about miso, natto, and tempeh? We’re big fans of fermented foods in general around here, so it stands to reason that fermented soy might enjoy a slightly different reception. Let’s see.

Fermentation makes the much-ballyhooed soy isoflavones biovailable to humans. Without fermentation, we can’t really make use of them.

Traditionally-fermented tempeh has reduced levels of phytic acid.

Fermented soy sauce displays increased levels of antioxidant compounds (and it seems to be totally free of soy and wheat allergens).

And though you may not be aware of this fact, natto – the widely reviled sticky pungent fermented soybean – is the richest source of vitamin K2 (MK-7, as opposed to the MK-4 found in animal foods) in the food world. It’s also much lower in phytic acid than unprocessed soybeans.

So, while soy is definitely not Primal, fermentation brings it a lot closer to the fold. Perhaps a longer post is worth writing. What do you think?

Verdict: Not Primal, but pretty good (and far better than unfermented soy).

Vinegar

Is vinegar Primal? Well, I have a post on “how to make red wine vinegar,” so it can’t be that bad, but let’s dig into it all the same. After all, you guys like details.

The primary component of vinegar is acetic acid, a product of fermentation by acetic acid-making bacteria. Acetic acid is a corrosive agent that can cause permanent damage to eyes, skin, and (I’d imagine) various orifices. It’s even flammable. Wow. Sounds awful, right?

Not so fast. Table vinegar – the kind you put on salads – is mostly water, with around 4-8% acetic acid (which is actually a short-chain fatty acid, a la butyric acid). The dangerous corrosive agent, then, is highly diluted before it reaches your mouth. I wouldn’t recommend guzzling shots of vinegar (except on a dare, perhaps), but it’s not a problem in the context of normal consumption. Besides, there are actual health benefits to using acetic acid dilute, I mean vinegar:

In type 2 diabetics and people with insulin resistance, vinegar improves insulin sensitivity when taken with a high-carb meal.

Eating potatoes with a little bit of vinegar reduces the postprandial blood sugar and insulin response.

Both 15 and 30 mL (one or two tablespoons) of daily vinegar reduced body weight, waist circumference, triglycerides, and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome in obese Japanese subjects, absent any other interventions.

Vinegar (albeit vinegar with higher levels of acetic acid) can act as an organic herbicide.

As for distilled versus fermented vinegar (like cider vinegar), there may well be qualitative differences, but that’ll have to wait for a future post.

Verdict: Primal. Acetic bacteria have been around longer than we have.

Almond Milk

I’ve never been very impressed with almond milk. It’s extremely watery and low in calories, which makes me feel like I’m wasting money on it. It doesn’t have much taste, unless you add sugar, in which case you’ve just added a bunch of sugar. It often contains dubious ingredients, like fortified vitamins and carrageenan. It’s very much a processed food.

But is almond milk Primal? Sure, in theory. Grind up some almonds, mix with water, and strain them to produce a “milk” uses nothing but Primal ingredients and practices. There’s nothing overtly “wrong” with that. But there’s also nothing very exciting. I’d guess if you make it from scratch, there’s a good chance your milk contains a decent amount of the nutrients inherent to almonds, like magnesium, vitamin E, various phytochemicals, but there’s also a chance that a lot of it is retained in the solids.

Personally, I’d just eat the almonds.

Verdict: Primal.

Hummus

It certainly isn’t Primal, seeing as how it’s pretty much just a bunch of mashed chickpeas, which are legumes. But good hummus, prepared with soaked, lightly fermented chickpeas, high quality extra-virgin olive oil, preserved lemon, tahini made from sprouted sesame seeds, pungent garlic, sea salt, and pepper? Skip the pita bread and opt for carrot sticks or celery slices (or just a spoon) and there are far worse ways to cheat.

The problem is most hummus isn’t that good. It’s made with industrial oils, which are full of rancid omega-6 fats. It’s made with canned garbanzos, which are likely rich in BPA and full of phytic acid. It’s got stabilizers and preservatives and that, while perhaps not all “that bad,” make for a subpar, processed food. And if you’re going to cheat, I implore you to use the good stuff. If you’re willing to make your own hummus, soak your own garbanzos, preserve your own lemons, etc., then hummus won’t be too bad. It’ll be free of BPA, low in phytic acid, full of healthy, Primal ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini, and it will taste pretty darn good. Extra points for fermented hummus.

Verdict: Not Primal, but not all hummus is created equal.

Royal Jelly

I already covered fructose-rich bee vomit in a previous post in which I deemed it a relatively safe(r) sweetener, but what about one of the lesser-known products of the apiary, royal jelly?

Royal jelly is kinda like bee colostrum. When a queen is dead or dying, and the worker bees (don’t get any ideas, guys) need to make a new one, they select a few larvae and feed them royal jelly for the rest of their lives. The jelly (which workers secrete from glands located in their heads) is rich in nutrients and contains a special growth-promoting protein called royalactin (which turns larvae into queens by speeding up growth and ovary development). All larvae receive royal jelly for at least three days, but only the future queens get it indefinitely. Queens also live for as long as five years, while the workers live for perhaps a month. The only difference between a worker and a queen is that the queen gets royal jelly for life. Other than that, they’re genetically identical.

But does royal jelly make sense as a food source for humans? Probably not, as a well-run hive can only make about half a kilo of royal jelly in six months. As a supplement? Maybe.

As in bees, royal jelly can prolong the lives of other insects, like the fruitfly, via royalactin. I wonder if royalactin could do the same for vertebrates, too.

It might be good for brain health. Oral royal jelly has been shown to stimulate the production of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a promoter of neurogenesis, in rodents. And recently, it improved cognitive abilities in mice dosed with a potent neurotoxin designed to initiate neuron death.

It might help with male infertility. In one study, vaginally applying a peri-coital mixture of royal jelly and honey improved the ability of men with lower sperm motility to impregnate their mates when compared to a control group.

A recent study, however, found that royal jelly had an adverse effect on the reproductive function of male rats. And though it’s pretty rare, royal jelly can be a serious allergen for some people.

Whatever you do, I’d be careful.

Verdict: Primal, but it’s not snake oil and it isn’t innocuous. Make absolutely certain that you’re ready for this jelly (I had to do it).

Green Coffee Bean Extract

As recently seen on Dr. Oz, green coffee bean extract is touted as a powerful weight loss supplement. Though Mehmet casts a dubious shadow on the things he endorses, I thought I’d take a look into this one. I mean, coffee beans are known sources of antioxidants, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but I’m only familiar with the roasted, brown kind of coffee bean. What’s the deal with green coffee beans (and their extract)?

Coffee contains chlorogenic acids, organic compounds that have been shown to benefit glucose tolerance in humans. Green coffee bean extract (GCBE) also contains chlorogenic acids, and a recent study found that GCBE supplementation reduced body fat and resting heart rate in obese human subjects, though researchers weren’t sure whether the caffeine content of GCBE was partly responsible.

Why not just drink coffee, you might be wondering? I’m actually wondering the same thing. As noted above, coffee also contains chlorogenic acids, caffeine, and can improve weight loss. Coffee also tastes phenomenal. I see little evidence that GCBE is doing anything that coffee is not.

Verdict: Primal, but not nearly as delicious as real coffee.

That’s it for today, folks. Keep sending in your queries, and I’ll do my best to get to them. If I ever amass enough, maybe I’ll throw together another “Is it Primal?” post. Take care!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Do roasted cashews, which ARE easy to overeat, contain the same amount of phytic acid as raw-unsoaked cashews?

    mommymd wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Soaking is what really does the trick. I’d guess that roasted cashews have a little less phytic acid than raw-unsoaked but I’d still soak them. Better chance of you not overeating them if you do this too since its extra work.

      Primal Toad wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • There is no such thing as raw cashews being sold…here is a good article about how they are prepared.
      http://www.belizeanjourneys.com/features/cashew/newsletter.html
      They are heated up to release their toxic oils and are never sold “raw”.

      LDub wrote on May 9th, 2012
  2. The royal jelly verdict got me thinking — are milkshakes Primal?

    Dave wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • “Oral royal jelly” got me thinking too, but in a humorous NSFW mode.

      liberty1776 wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I would believe their benefit of coercing all of the males to sprint to the yard would override the poor nutritional content when served cold. But I wonder what happens when you warm it up…

      JennHack wrote on May 10th, 2012
    • What do you mean by “milkshakes” exactly? It depends on what you add to it.

      Smoothies are Primal all the way…

      Primal Toad wrote on May 11th, 2012
  3. So… my brother and my sister both died with glioblastomata. I perk up when people mention glial cells. Rolling the dice, would royal jelly, do you think, retard or exacerbate a glioblastoma?

    I know you don’t know. I’m just inviting some speculation.

    Ion Freeman wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • My husband died at 48 of GBM too….! Sorry for your loss…I just try to do the right thing with eating as best I can…hang in there!

      Sue wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Sorry for your loss, Ion. Working in rehab, I’ve seen the results of glios. Don’t really want to weight in on royal jelly, but as Mark has pointed out here, and others have mentioned as well, cancer cells seem to thrive off glucose. Seems the best thing you could do, diet wise (other than eating as Primal as possible,) to avoid the same fate would be to eat low carb (50 grams or less a day on average) and fast intermittently if you aren’t already. Just my two cents.

      Good luck and good health!

      fritzy wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Cancer cells or tumors are glycogen obligate so yes they do thrive on glucose and in theory cannot survive without it.I have read many books where poeple have reversed their cancer by eating a whole raw food diet, e.g veg and salad.

        ilovdogs wrote on May 31st, 2012
  4. I’m wondering about tapioca. I thought I read that it’s not very good for you, but lately I’ve seen more “primal” recipes using tapioca flour. My first inclination is that people using it are the ones trying to keep their lives full of baked good rather than really embracing basic primal foods. But then, I’ve always loved warm tapioca as dessert. If I could have tapioca (not out of the box filled with sugar and preservatives), I’d be a happy girl.

    Decaf Debi wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I second this one. I’d love to know more about tapioca. My daughter is a big fan of homemade tapioca pudding and being able to have the occasional cheat for it without feeling too bad would be nice.

      Rhonda wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Yes, me too. I’ve heard it both ways but not been convinced it’s primal. I loved tapioca as a child and would love to have some now and again.

        Alison Golden - PaleoNonPaleo wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • Here in Brazil’s northeast tapioca flour is always sold and stored at home soaked, we call it “goma de tapioca”, and only dry it as we consume. I particularly treat it as I would rice, but wonder if the very long soaking process (sometimes weeks) that was initially used by the natives helps making it primal.

          DavidDP wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Tapioca flour is a highly refined starch and not paleo friendly!! Its glycemic index is 94 (bad). So I don’t recommend tapioca pudding even if its homemade.

      scilla wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Tapioca is made from tubers of the cassava plant. Basically in the same category as white potatoes. It’s high in carbs, so it shouldn’t be an everyday item, but fine as an occasional indulgence.

      As an aside, I make pao de queijo – rolls made with tapioca flour and cheese – for Thanksgiving and similar occasions. They’re a lovely gluten-free alternative to the normal thanksgiving rolls.

      Christine M. wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • So does that mean that bubble tea is OK?

        LM wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • i also love bubble tea.

          but Most commercial bubble tea is too sweet. i dont’ know what they use for sweetener or creamer. hopefully not HFCG, hydrogenated creamer!

          i have seen tapioca bubbles pre-cookded (wet) sold in package in stores. they may have been added colors & preservative to keep them from mold.

          (coking from uncooked (dry) tapioca pearls is rather tedious process.)

          if you can make bubble tea @ home, it should be ok.

          regards,

          pam wrote on May 22nd, 2012
        • I make a bubble tea-like drink with chia seeds. It’s just a teaspoon of chia seeds soaked in tea with a little coconut milk.

          Alexandra wrote on November 9th, 2012
  5. Maple syrup?

    Peter Soliman wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • good grief no, it’s SUGAR

      edie wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Yeah but its tree sap and all you do is boil off water to make it, so I think that it’s legit question. If honey is ok in treat size amounts then why not maple syrup (the real stuff)

        MamaB wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • the real problem i think, with honey and maple syrup, is the very high carb/sugar/fructose content. Grok certainly had access to honey, but probably ate it rarely. Native Americans had maple syrup, but i’m guessing they used it sparingly.

          HopelessDreamer wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • I’d bet that when Grok got his hands on some honey he ate it all up before anybody else could see that he found it. Then took a nap.

          karen wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • Real maple syrup is primal. It’s used in Mark’s recipes and (I believe) recommended over honey.

          J wrote on May 27th, 2012
        • From my understanding… if you aren’t trying to loose weight honey and maple syrup are primal, it just has to fit in to your 100-150 grams / day maintenance. Remember that you need to include as much healthy carb food in to that 125 grams as possible and honey / maple syrup are pretty much empty calories. It primal because Grok had access to it, but that doesn’t mean its nutritious. If Grok had unlimited access to the honey supplies he could have been fat and unhealthy too. Use it judiciously and infrequently.

          MN_John wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Around here there are tons of maple syrup farms. I rarely eat maple syrup but I was always curious. Fresh local syrup usually runs about 15-20$ for a small bottle. It’s 100% syrup boiled down from sap about 20km from here (11miles or so? I think?)

        Peter wrote on May 9th, 2012
  6. Mark, did you read about the ultramarathoner who recently died (on a run) from heart disease (cardiomyopathy)?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2141548/Micah-True-cause-death-Autopsy-shows-heart-disease-killed-famed-ultrarunner.html

    It kind of reinforces your position that this kind of running is dangerous to one’s health.

    Joe wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Marathon runners have been studied for acute cardiomyopathy and elevated serum cardiac enzymes after their events. Freaky stuff.

      I’m sure it’s occurring in all sorts of athletes, not just marathon runners.

      Derek wrote on May 10th, 2012
  7. Id like to know more about Worcestershire sauce.

    To be more precise the Malt Vinegar that’s in it.

    Arif wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Malt is barley, so a no go. But, I recently found a gluten free brand. Still not great but better?

      Maureen wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • I’ve been using pureed sardines as a replacement, but it’s not the same. I suspect as much because it’s missing the fermentation, but fermenting meat scares me. I would pay good money to anyone who figured out and sold a good book on homemade Worcestershire sauce.

        JMH wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • Thai fish sauce perhaps?

          If you’re in the US it’s made with spirit vinegar rather than malt.

          Or the full on Roman garum that Worcestershire sauce ultimately derives
          from…

          http://www.coquinaria.nl/english/recipes/garum.htm

          Mr Ed wrote on May 10th, 2012
        • Anchovies would be a better substitute than sardines. Mediterraneans traditionally use anchovies in sauces and dressings to boost the umami, much as Worcestershire sauce is used in British and American cooking. They can be diced fine and practically melt into cooked foods and dissolve in salad dressing. A good combo to approximate Worcestershire would be anchovy, balsamic vinegar, and some seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, onion). As the commenter above mentioned, probably not a good idea to attempt to ferment your own fish, but letting the mixture sit for a couple of days in the fridge would help the flavors mingle.

          MarkA wrote on July 31st, 2012
    • I don’t know what Worcestershire sauce you’re using but it shouldn’t contain Malt Vinegar. Lea & Perrins ingredient list:

      Ingredients: distilled white vinegar, molases, water, sugar, onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavorings, chili pepper extract. Contains anchovies.

      According to their web site it is fully gluten free.

      Chemical Blender wrote on January 2nd, 2014
  8. What about agave nectar?

    Rob G. wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • No on the agave nectar. It is processed and almost pure fructose (that’s why there isn’t a big effect on blood sugars)

      Heather wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Agave nectar is pure refined fructose, and possibly worse for you than HFCS. The health community really got it wrong on this one. Not primal.

      Jenn wrote on May 9th, 2012
  9. For the coffee one…. coffee is gross.

    What is there in coffee that I don’t get from black/green teas?

    federkeil wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Awesomeness – that’s what.

      And what goes better with a nice, primal cigar than a cup of espresso?

      Vidad wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Yeck – I hate coffee, even the smell makes me want to puke.

      Tanya wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • I agree. Even the smell is bad. What bothers me is people calling it a bean. Coffee is a toxic fruit seed. Fruit seeds evolved to not be digested, but to pass through and still be viable. No way our ancestors were eating coffee seeds. Now the coffee fruit would be primal, but you can’t find it outside of coffee growing locales.

        Don Wiss wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • If coffee is a toxic bean, then what about cocoa? Same thing? You’re not going to take chocolate from my life, are you?

          oxide wrote on May 10th, 2012
      • If you hate coffee, your drinking the wrong coffee. Not all coffee is created equal.
        Be careful with gluten free products. They can elicit an insulin response worse than grains or sugar. They are very high GI.
        Nuts (and the legumes cashews & peanuts) can be dangerous due to being easily over consumed – especially when coated in chocolate, but that is just a no-no.

        Anthony wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Haha, I love coffee so much I drink it black, iced, usually decaf and without sugar.. Coffee is amazing at any temperature, but hot ones make me pee all day!

        Kate wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I am 44 years old and have never had a cup of coffee in my life, I have tried it occassionally (like 3 times) but think it tastes gross too, my sister doesn’t like it either, two people in one family seems unusual!

      Claudia wrote on May 10th, 2012
      • Coffee is addictive, have it enough times and you will ‘like’ it. Your mind/body gets used to the chemicals and makes you ‘like’ it. Most people that try plain coffee the first time are are repulsed by it. I’m a coffee drinker but I have to admit I don’t like it that much (I do like the cream added) but it’s very addictive and if it’s around I’ll drink it.

        Let’s be honest here, coffee is not good for you in any way really, probably harmful for what it does to your nervous system and body. But people are addicted and justify it. It’s not obviously killing people like cigarettes, and supposedly has antioxidant properties (which have not been proven to actually do anything good for people and may be harmful), so it’s easy to justify (people justify a lot worse).

        Do you think our ancestors were gathering poisonous seeds, roasting them carefully, then boiling them (in non existant cookware)? Likely coffee evolved by someone trying to make a tea like substance to avoid hunger when they were starving.

        RS wrote on May 16th, 2012
  10. Cashews give me a bellyache. Anybody else experience that?

    Kirsten wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • My nutritionist advised me to bake them. I have a mold allergy, and the raw ones are full of mold. 350 in the oven until toasty brown – mine is convection and takes about 11 minutes in a flat pan, one layer.

      Roberta wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Only if I eat WAAAY too many of them…

      ZippyChick wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Nuts are seeds, and just like most other seeds, contain some type of gut-irritating lectins. You shouldn’t have a problem if you eat them in moderation once every three days, but most people overdo it on the nuts.

      Matthew Caton wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Yes, love cashews but they don’t love me.

      Barbara wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • raw almonds give me a bellyache. if i bake them or eat store bought roasted, it’s better.

      coley wrote on May 10th, 2012
  11. LOVING the Destiny’s Child reference Mark!

    Emily Mekeel wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • haha me too

      Jake wrote on May 9th, 2012
  12. Hummus just got a thread recently. My advice and that of several others: make baba ghanouj instead (unless sensitive to nightshades due to the eggplant). Much lower carb, Primal, delicious. Just finished lunch that included braised short ribs and roasted veggies with roasted eggplant baba.

    Finnegans Wake wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Sorry, grilled veggies and grilled eggplant baba. Get that nice smoky flavor!

      Finnegans Wake wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Thank you for that suggestion!!! Brilliant!!! I love baba ghanouj and had not thought of it.

      Mary wrote on May 9th, 2012
  13. I have gone from snacking on cashews all day long to tossing a few on a salad or Asian dish. As for soaking them, naw, I don’t think so.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 9th, 2012
  14. Good to know about the soy sauce, I’d been using it for stir-fries anyway, figuring that fermentation would take care of any potential issues.

    ZenBowman wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • What’s the deal with soy sauce?

      Yehuda wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Try San-J organic, low-sodium, wheat-free (by definition), naturally brewed Tamari. I think it blows soy sauce out of the water.

      Just dip the edges of some thinly sliced daikon rounds into it…

      Leaf Eating Carnivore wrote on May 15th, 2012
  15. What about miso?

    Beth wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • seconded! I love miso soup..ditch the tofu, up the seaweed, and hope it’s primal…

      MrsToon wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Mark covers miso in the fermented soy section of today’s article.

        Finnegans Wake wrote on May 9th, 2012
  16. It is also possible to make “hummus” using zucchini and/or ground nuts in place of the beans. Here’s an example (just one of the first ones that popped up when I Googled): http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/2012/03/low-carb-hummus-bean-free.html

    reneeneigh wrote on May 9th, 2012
  17. I think you should really be a lot more excited about almond milk. It is my favorite: coconut milk is often too sugary for my taste, but mainly for the reason that you can make delicious smoothies with it.
    Good article, thanks.

    Margaux wrote on May 9th, 2012
  18. Great list. I’ve always wondered what you thought of wheatgrass juice and cashews.

    Primal Toad wrote on May 9th, 2012
  19. How about soy lecithin. I use Whey Protein Isolate (Bluebonnet). It’s organic and the ingredient list is all “clean” except for the soy lecithin. Is it okay to take?
    Thanks so much.

    Toni Bernhard wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • So do you think that STrontium 90 is excluded during the refining process?

      Roberta wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Looking at bluebonnet container right now, even though i know the answer—-there isn’t soy lecithin in bluebonnet.

      Graham wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Germaine – They just started adding it. If you go to their website it’s on the ingredient list. I emailed then about the discrepancy and they confirmed that it’s in there.

        Toni Bernhard wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • Sorry, I meant Graham not Germaine.

          Toni Bernhard wrote on May 9th, 2012
        • That’s too bad, they were one of the good ones…lucky for us here in Colorado, we have natural grocers which sells their own completely pure whey concentrate from new Zealand for 8.60 a pound. Nothing added whatsoever. Stopped buying bluebonnet when I discovered it. Anyway, thanks for the heads up! I don’t do anything with the s word, and that stupid lecithin is in everything. Watch out in your dark chocolate…

          Graham wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • You’d be better off using other more natural sources of protein such as meat or eggs! Hard boiled eggs are a quick dose of quality protein and omega-3′s!

      Overly Primal Monkey wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Soy lecithin is fine unless you are crazy intolerant to all things soy.

      Primal Toad wrote on May 11th, 2012
  20. One of my GF cookbooks mentions that white vinegar may have traces of gluten in it, so for those that are particularly gluten sensitive, I’d say stick to apple or wine vinegars.

    Kathryn wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Just a quick note, a shot glass of apple cider vinegar is the quickest, safest treatment for mastitis

      Jen PInter wrote on May 9th, 2012
  21. Just a note, white vinegar is distilled from corn.

    Jenna wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • i use white vinegar in a homemade housecleaning solution. i eat salads etc, with Apple cider vinegar. sometimes rice vinegar.

      HopelessDreamer wrote on May 9th, 2012
  22. It’s interesting how individual food intolerances are. I can eat a ton of macadamia nuts with no adverse reactions. I can eat quite a few cashews (though avoid placing myself in situations where that’s possible) also without much effect except an increased desire to eat more later that day. But if I eat more than a handful of almonds in a day, I experience bloating and waistline discomfort. For comparative purposes, we can break these foods down to the ratios of macronutrients they contain, but this ignores all of their differences in micronutrients and phytochemicals, some of which may be problematic for some individuals.

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Aloha Aaron,
      Thank you for posting this! You may be the first person I’ve seen post on here who mentions nuts making them hungrier, bloated, or having “waistline discomfort.” Maybe it’s the nuts that are derailing my progress with PB! I’ve been trying to eat PB for a month and a half now and honestly I feel happier (as in, cut my antidepressant dose in half and still feel better than before PB!) and healthier overall and my skin has cleared for the first time since pre-puberty (I’m 30), but I’ve actually gained fat and my stomach is more bloated than when I started. I’ve been eating quite a few nuts throughout my PB experience… perhaps they have something to do with this! I appreciate that your post made me think to look at this part of my new diet… hopefully I’ll find a way to balance things so that I can stay PB and be happier, healthier, AND thinner / less bloated!

      lovin' the good life wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • me three. Cut out nuts. It sucks, but I think it has to be done for a lot of people.

        LJ wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Hi Aaron,
      Are these blanched almonds? Or ones with the skins still on? The skins, i.e. the bran, is where the phytic acid is. The macadamia nuts are very low in phytic acid.

      A friend soaks almonds in the refrigerator and then slides the skins off.

      Don Wiss wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Hi Don,
        Not sure if the skins are still on. I buy almonds already shelled and lightly roasted. I have soaked raw almonds a couple of times before roasting them myself, and I think I tolerated them better that way, though I don’t remember removing a skin layer.

        aaron blaisdell wrote on May 10th, 2012
  23. “This is a perplexing one. On the one hand, it’s wheat. We hate wheat. Wheat is anything but Primal. On the other hand, it’s grass, and aren’t we Primals always going on and on about the benefits of grass-feeding? So what’s the deal?”

    Thanks for the LOL, Mark!

    Karen P. wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • That cracked me up too. I was imagining clipping the lawn with my teeth.

      Just one more thing the neighbors would be amused by… they already stare at our goats and chickens.

      Vidad wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • grass feeding the ruminants, karen, not us! ruminants process the grasses (solar energy in a plant form) for us and make it safe for us to eat as the ruminants animal body meat -

      ravi wrote on May 9th, 2012
  24. Im wondering about certain lactogenic foods and herbs. I’ve been primal for about 2 years now and I’m currently breastfeeding. But I’m having trouble keeping up with my son’s nursing needs (I didn’t have this problem with my first child). I’ve read that hops, hops flowers, nettle leaf, raspberry leaf, oats, oatstraw, alfalfa and fenugreek can all help boost milk supply. Obviously oats would be out for me, but what about all the others? I’m guessing the herbs would be ok but I’d love some guidance on all the aforementioned lactogenic foods. Thanks!

    Amanda Nicolet wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Not sure if it’s primal, but when I nursed I took torula food yeast (similar to brewers yeast). Not good if you are prone to candida though. If you can tolerate it, you’ll have more milk than he can drink, and it will be packed with B vitamins.

      edie wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • hi, I’m amazed you don’t know of Dr. Chris Kresser but hopefully it’s revelatory for you. Go immediately, do not pass go, http://chriskresser.com/growing-a-healthy-baby-nutrition-for-conception-pregnancy-breastfeeding

      David Cole wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I *just* read somewhere (Chris Kessler’s site, maybe?) that there was a study that showed that breastfeeding mothers who ate a high-fat diet created more nutritious breastmilk, but not more volume. So keep eating lots of your healthy primal fats, too! Maybe the volume isn’t necessarily as much of an issue?
      Personally, a pint of Guinness every afternoon — wisdom passed down from my mom — worked for me! Hey, it’s fermented.

      Emseven wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • Oh, I love that image! Feet up, baby welded on and a glass of brew to toast the day just gone, fantastic!
        Cheers

        Heather wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • I know that when I switched to real animal fats and dropped the vegetable oils my milk supply shot up. It was instant – good cream in, good cream out :)

        Good to hear that even if your supply doesn’t increase, that the nutrition does.

        That would be my main suggestion – make sure you’re eating lots of good quality fats – meat fat, grass-fed butter, high-fat cream added to everything; coffee, dessert (fruit and cream), hot cocoa (just cocoa powder, hot water and cream), and any dish that you’d normally add milk to, splash some cream in too (like scrambled eggs etc)

        homehandymum wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Amanda,

      The raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and fenugreek all help with milk supply; I don’t know about the others though and I can’t eat oats or oatstraw. You can take supplements of alfalfa and fenugreek, and drink teas of raspberry leaf (one of my favorites) and fenugreek. So many of us seem to experience supply problems with the second or third child, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you are now taking care of 2 or more children, rather than just focusing on one, and that REALLY changes things! Make sure you are getting enough rest, drinking lots of water, and keeping stress low. And who knows, maybe its just a temporary supply issue which I think every nursing mom has experienced. Good luck to you!

      Linda C wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I’m a midwife and we always recommend women who are concerned about their supply to take fenugreek supplements. I have also heard that raspberry leaf can be useful. I can’t see how these would not primal. Fenugreek can make your milk smell a bit funny though

      Leah wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I had the same problem. Bit naughty but a dark beer/stout does wonders for milk supply.

      Laura wrote on May 10th, 2012
  25. Interesting that a good chunk of the weight loss experienced in the GCBE study came during the wash-out periods. One group lost a substantial amount during the wash-out period after placebo, haha. Actual weight loss numbers during high dose and low dose periods are less sexy than the authors state in the conclusion.

    Matt wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Where were you able to get the full article? I have only been able to find the abstract.

      Mark, from my understanding the amount of chlorogenic acid is greatly diminished after roasting the beans to use for coffee. Green coffee beans are too bitter to be used for anything else. Studies have shown mixed reviews for cholognenic acid but supposedly the dosage was low. This new study used higher doses of GCE.

      Jeffre wrote on May 9th, 2012
  26. Why eat all these processed foods? I thought primal meant food that Grok ate.

    Mike wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Sorry, really late reply here! I just wanted to say that Primal & Paleo are not about ‘what a caveman WOULD HAVE eaten’ but what his body was able to digest. We live in a technological era where we can do things like ferment, soak etc. Just because Grok wouldn’t have been able to make almond milk doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit in with what our digestive systems have evolved to cope with.

      Erin wrote on March 27th, 2013
  27. What’ s your advice about coconut oil, water , and milk?

    Derek wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Hi Derek,
      Mark has covered these topics already :)
      Use the Search function at the top of the page and you should find all you need to know!
      Happy reading

      Rio wrote on May 9th, 2012
  28. I love hummus! Back in my veggie days I always made it myself from soaked chickpeas and it was completely different from the store bought stuff, Mmmm. I feel a “cheat” coming soon (with carrot sticks and cucumber slices of course)

    K wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • You don’t have to give up your hummus,as I just replace the garbonzo beans with zucchini. When I was doing a raw, vegan diet I would make this version of hummus and no one could tell the difference. It primal and delicious!

      suzyq wrote on May 9th, 2012
  29. Just a caution about using nutritional data to compare foods. The section of your article discussing wheatgrass rightly said that just because it’s good for chickens, doesn’t mean it good for humans. This would hint that the nutrients may not be bioavailable to humans. Then you compare spinach to wheatgrass using nutritional data without regard to the bioavailability of the nutrients in spinach. I used to make this same mistake using nutrition data. I would urge your readers to learn about the anti-nutrients present in many plant foods (phytates, oxalates, goitrogens, etc…)

    Mule wrote on May 9th, 2012
  30. I’m guessing Chia seed is good for ALA’s but is also missing the other good Omega-3′s… so not a good replacement for wild fish… but I thought I’d throw it out there since I’ve heard it brought up a few times recently. Wondering if it’s beneficial to add a bit into the day, in addition to our vital omega supplements?

    Kim Keith wrote on May 9th, 2012
  31. gluten free granola?

    mick wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Most that I’ve seen have oats in them, so they wouldn’t be primal. I make my own, using a variety of chopped nuts, shredded coconut, sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, and some kinds of dried berries. I don’t think I’ve ever made the same recipe twice and use whatever mix of things I have on hand. Toast all of that (minus the dried berries) in the oven for a few minutes, then pour over a mixture of some honey, coconut oil, a teaspoon on vanilla extract, and whatever spices you like (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or what suits your fancy), stir to combine and bake stirring often so it doesn’t burn. My kids love this for snacks, for a “cereal” in the morning, or over yogurt. There are a lot of recipes online if you want exact measurements, but granola is pretty easy to just play around with.

      Decaf Debi wrote on May 9th, 2012
  32. I never had a problem with Royal jelly, but then again I think the Bee Pollen is far superior due to all the nutrients and trace minerals you get, as well as the health benefits and the price.

    I would like it if next time you covered Bee Pollen Mark.

    Wally wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • I agree…eat a couple of tablespoons a day of bee pollen…as well as a 1/4 tsp of 3x royal jelly…great food right from Mother Nature’s cupboard. Can’t get any better than that.

      Penny wrote on May 9th, 2012
  33. Thanks for covering some grayer foods.

    In response to wheatgrass, I experimented with a supergreens mix once and my dad looked at me skeptically and said, “Humans aren’t ruminants.”. Touche.

    Personally, I think fermented soy lies in that really fuzzy area where if something is prepared in a traditional way, it becomes more acceptable. There was a post on this in the past: if musk or fermented tofu become Primal, then does that lead to good fermented sourdough bread being Primal? I like the simplicity of eating foods in their most natural form, and all this traditional soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and whatnot seems to be getting away from eating what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.

    I have absolutely no knowledge on the topic, but when I picture Grok, I don’t really have an image of someone fermenting tofu. I really think it belongs in the 20 portion of the 80/20 philosophy.

    Deanna wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • LOL – your Dad is so right, the reason they can digest it, is because they ruminate (ie: ferment) it in their stomachs. Then hoark it back up and rechew. So, unless we grow some more stomachs and start rechewing our food I think grass is out! As for horses they have a giant appendix, the cecum, to digest their grass – ours is kind of little and very useless, and I don’t even have one LOL

      Tanya wrote on May 9th, 2012
  34. “…vaginally applying a peri-coital mixture of royal jelly and honey improved the ability of men…”

    What the what? I’m not grasping this one, but I’m not saying you should include a diagram, either. Maybe it’s best if this is left unexplained.

    Primal Texas wrote on May 9th, 2012
  35. “unless you add sugar, in which case you’ve just added a bunch of sugar.” haha so basic. I used to buy almond milk but then started feeling the same way about it being a waste of money and just switched to canned coconut milk instead. I’ve also made my own macadamia nut milk which came out incredibly creamy and decadent. I highly suggest people try that out if they are looking for a substitute.

    katie wrote on May 9th, 2012
  36. it’s great to hear that soy sauce would be okay for someone with soy or wheat allergies. For celiacs or gluten intolerant, watch out because it can be enough to cause a reaction. Look for a wheat free soy or tamari sauce.

    I loved the first sentence about wheat grass, haha!

    Real Food RD wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Since I can’t have gluten or soy, I use a product called Coconut Aminos in place of soy sauce. Its a great substitute and my whole family likes it.

      Linda C wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • I second the recommendation for coconut aminos! It continues to ferment after packaging, so be careful when opening. :)

        Christine M. wrote on May 9th, 2012
      • If you have candida issues then also beware of coconut aminos. I bought a bottle (not cheap in the UK) and spent all nightr itching due to Candida.

        terri wrote on May 10th, 2012
  37. Better than spinach is lamb’s quarter, also called wild spinach (though it’s closer biologically to quinoa than mono-cropped spinach).

    Most importantly, the growing soil condition is really the best qualifier for nutrient density. I live in Yukon, and the soil here is replete with minerals, so our lamb’s quarters and other wild edibles completely blow away any farmed produce- even organically grown. One taste really demonstrates this very clearly.

    I recommend more education and experience with wild-gathering rather than more education and experience with grocery-store gathering. I spent years learning about what goes into manufactured and farmed foods, learned to navigate the grocery store, and then three years ago, realised that I could have spent that time learning how to navigate the abundant forest that surrounds me, so I’ve been doing that instead. Wild mushrooms still baffle/scare me a bit…

    When in the grocery store, I just stick to things that don’t (need to) come in packages (except select meats), and it works out fine. :)

    More wild gathering!!! It’s fairly easy to learn to identify and prepare regional edibles (easier than grocery-store navigation, in my opinion), and if you’re in a big city, I can understand why it doesn’t work so well, but a week-end trip to a forest somewhere can yield a huge amount of produce, and you also get to benefit from being in the forest!

    Imogen wrote on May 9th, 2012
  38. I’d like that soaked and sprouted hummus recipe, please!

    Emseven wrote on May 9th, 2012
  39. love the Seinfeld reference… wondering if anyone else picked up on that

    Burn wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • Who told you to use the balm?!!

      Mr. T wrote on May 9th, 2012
  40. …I want coffee now

    Nionvox wrote on May 9th, 2012

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