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

Is It Primal? – Spirulina, Chlorella, Amaranth, and Other Foods Scrutinized

spirulinaThere are many thousands of foods out there at our beck and call, and you want to know which ones are Primal-approved and which ones are not. I know this because I get a lot of emails from you guys asking me about this food or that food. I’m happy to give my perspective, but I also want to iterate (or reiterate, in case I’ve already said this) that eating or not eating any of the aforementioned and heretofore-mentioned foods will neither ratify nor revoke your Primal Cred card. Heck, such a card doesn’t even really exist! These are just my opinions based on the evidence available to me.

Without further ado, let’s dig in to the foods in question. We’ve got spirulina, chlorella, amaranth, Mycryo, and freeze-dried produce on the docket for today.

Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of microalga – tiny algae, seaweed that you can’t see (“can’t-seeweed”? No, that’s terrible) – found in tropical and subtropical lakes (so I guess it’s not actually even seaweed, but rather lakeweed). In certain areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, where it grows naturally, spriulina has long been prized as a food source rich in protein, vitamins, fats, and minerals. How rich?

By dry weight, spirulina is around 60% protein, and because it contains all the essential amino acids, spirulina has been called the finest source of non-animal protein around. That may be true, but I’d wager it’d be less expensive (and tastier) just to eat some eggs.

Purveyors and enthusiasts often claim that spirulina contains vitamin B12, but that’s not really true. It contains something called pseudovitamin B12, which sounds interesting but is “not suitable for use as vitamin B12 sources, especially in vegans,” because it is inactive in humans. Nice try.

Spirulina contains a lot of gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that’s pretty rare in average diets. Contrary to how we usually conceive of omega-6 fats, dietary GLA is actually more anti-inflammatory than inflammatory in practice.

Spirulina is filthy with iron and vitamin K and, being a vibrant blue-green, contains tons of pigments with antioxidant properties.

It’s passed extensive toxicological safety tests (PDF) and has been shown to exert hypocholesterolemic and immune-boosting effects, which sound uniformly beneficial until you realize that a “boosted” immune system could also exacerbate autoimmune conditions, like autoimmune inflammatory myopathy.

I don’t see any real glaring issues with spirulina, but it seems more suitable as a supplement than a straight-up food source. Most studies use, at most, 7 grams per day; when you look at the impressive nutritional content of spirulina on some sites, it’s often for a 100 gram dose, which is far beyond what you’d be willing to eat.

Verdict: Primal.

Chlorella

Chlorella is another freshwater microalga favored by conventional and vegetarian health nuts, albeit without the longstanding legacy of spirulina. It is high in protein, fatty acids (including EPA) (PDF), magnesium, zinc, iron, and chlorophyll, plus plenty of phytonutrients. Of course, chlorella is hard to digest because it has a tougher cell wall than spirulina, which is easy to digest, but “broken cell wall” chlorella is more digestible and widely available in supplement form.

Much has been made of chlorella’s ability to remove heavy metals, dioxins, and other toxic materials from the body. Is it true? Kinda. One study in pregnant women found that chlorella supplementation reduced the maternal-fetal transfer of dioxins; it also reduces the transfer of dioxins through breastmilk. Another – this time in rats – found that chlorella helped reduce cadmium absorption in the liver when the two were co-administered. Still, this doesn’t tell us much about chlorella’s ability to remove stored lead, mercury, and cadmium once they’ve already been absorbed or swallowed. I suppose we could just take a shot of chlorella every time we consumed anything that might be contaminated with metals (or breathed air contaminated with heavy metal particulates), but that would get annoying fast.

Chlorella’s just another “superfood” in a long line. It’s got some interesting nutrient content, like EPA and complete protein (especially for vegans). It’s proved beneficial in several human studies, improving the antioxidant status of Korean smokers, improving metabolic parameters of at-risk patients, reducing mild to moderate hypertension (in some subjects), and increasing immune function. But it’s not going to cure whatever ails you. No one thing will.

Verdict: Primal.

Amaranth

Amaranth is an herbaceous plant, but when most people say “amaranth” they refer to its grain-like seed, or pseudograin. Amaranth grain has been used for thousands of years, particularly in South and Central America, where the Aztecs, the Inca, and the Maya all cultivated extensive amounts of amaranth. In fact, when the conquistadors arrived to find the Aztecs using the pseudograin in delicious-sounding yet completely heretical religious ceremonies where sculptures of the gods would be fashioned out of amaranth and honey and then broken apart and eaten, they banned its cultivation. I suppose the symbolic consumption of the body of a deity hit a little too close to home. Besides, amaranth and honey taste way better than bland bread, so they had to eliminate the formidable competition.

Being a seed that acts like a grain, amaranth is fairly carb-dense – about 65 grams per 3.5 ounce serving of dry grain. It’s also rich in iron, magnesium, protein, and calcium.

If you’re going to eat amaranth grain, particularly as a “safe starch” source, a little traditional prep work is advised to make it as safe as possible. “Steeping and germinating” – also known as soaking and sprouting – amaranth grain for 5 and 24 hours (PDF), respectively, eliminated phytic acid and tannin content while minimizing loss of dry matter and making the protein more digestible. Soaking and sprouting for longer periods were unnecessary and in some cases even diminished the nutritional content.

What I like about amaranth, at least relative to other grains and grain-like seeds, is that it also produces edible, nutritious leaves. Amaranth leaves taste a bit like spinach and can be eaten raw, though they’re substantial enough for sautéeing and stir-frying. Legend has it that a clove or two of chopped garlic goes well with sautéed amaranth leaves. Heck, even the root and stems are edible and employed in various cuisines.

Verdict: Not Primal, but if you already do rice and quinoa, it’s worth looking into.

Mycryo

I’ve discussed the considerable health benefits of the cocoa bean (or is it “cacao bean”; I can never quite remember), one of which is the cocoa butter. Mycryo is cocoa butter, only in powdered, freeze-dried form. You can sprinkle it directly onto foods along with spices and salt and pepper before applying heat. According to proponents (and Mycryo’s producers), Mycryo will give a steak a fantastic sear. It’s also an interesting way to control the amount of fat you use, if you worry about that sort of thing. At the very least, by selectively applying only as many freeze-dried fat globules as the job requires, you’ll waste far less than you would using more traditional forms of cooking fat.

I don’t see any reason why Mycryo would be harmful. It’s certainly a novel form of an inarguably Primal fat – cocoa butter – but then again, so is the powdered coconut milk I use in Primal Fuel. There aren’t a ton of studies on the effects of freeze drying on fatty acids, and zero (at least that I could find) on the effects of freeze drying on the fatty acids specific to cocoa butter, but in the few that were available, I was able to discern that only the polyunsaturated fats are negatively affected by freeze drying. And even then, it takes time for that damage to accrue.

In regards to Mycryo, it appears that the oxidation fears are unwarranted. Cocoa butter is over 50% saturated, with the bulk of the SFAs coming from stearic and palmitic acid. SFAs are resistant to oxidation as a general rule. The rest of cocoa butter is unsaturated, but mostly monounsaturated oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil and beef fat that’s highly resistant to oxidation. Between 0-3% of cocoa butter fat is polyunsaturated and therefore in danger of oxidative damage from freeze-drying – not a very worrisome amount, by any stretch of the imagination.

I’ve never used the stuff, but my interest is piqued. I could see people doing some interesting things in the kitchen with it. Check out the cooking demos for some ideas.

Verdict: Primal.

Freeze Dried Fruits and Vegetables

We already know that fruits and vegetables are Primal, so the real crux of the contention here is the freeze drying, which can be a helpful way to produce shelf-stable produce. Obviously, fresh, preferably just-picked fruits and vegetables are superior choices, but what if we’re going on a road trip, going camping, or flying to Mars and we want access to berries, broccoli, and spinach? Just like Mycryo above it, you’re probably wondering whether or not freeze drying fruits and vegetables negatively impacts their nutritional content. Does it degrade the vitamins? The polyphenolic compounds? What about minerals – are any of those lost to the drying process?

Vitamin C levels appear fairly sensitive to freeze-drying. One Brazilian study (PDF) found that freeze-dried tropical fruits, including mango, pineapple, guava, and papaya lost up to 37% of their vitamin C, though the authors concluded that even freeze-dried, the fruits remained a valuable source of the vitamin (especially compared to other methods of drying).

Polyphenol content appears to be quite stable after freeze-drying, at least in blueberries, strawberry tree fruits, raspberries, strawberries, yams, asparagus, corn and marionberries, to name just a few. In fact, that strawberry tree fruit study concluded that “freeze-drying is the best drying method to keep the nutritional value, antioxidant activity and sensory properties of fruits.” Mineral levels remain steady, too.

One negative I can see is the lost water content. The water content of a food contributes greatly to its ability to satiate those who eat it, so if you’re snacking on dried fruit, it’s easy to put a lot of it away. For this very reason, you’re likely to eat more calories from dried mango than from fresh mango.

Fairly minor negatives aside, if you’re in a situation where you need to pick a shelf-stable produce option, freeze dried appears to be your best bet. While it does degrade some nutritional aspects of some fruits, it depends on what fruit you’re talking about and what specific nutrient you’re worried about. Overall, I’d say it’s a wash and it’s definitely better than eating none at all. Treat freeze-dried fruit and vegetables like their fresh counterparts, making sure to account for the fact that it’s a little too easy to eat the equivalent of six pounds of fresh fruit in freeze-dried form.

Verdict: Primal.

That’s what I’ve got for today, guys. If you have any other foods you’ve been wondering about, send them along in the comment section. Get as specific or as obscure as you desire.

Thanks for reading. 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. Shirataki root noodle, also branded Miracle Noodle

    Katie wrote on October 30th, 2012
  2. My father has Parkinson’s disease, and so I am aware of this article that I think casts doubt on whether anyone should eat blue-green algae like Chlorella.

    See http://www.psmag.com/health/was-lou-gehrigs-als-caused-by-tap-water-38804/

    I am going to summarize the evidence from memory, and to the best I understood it before. Any commentary on this is welcome.

    Basically, the theory is that exposure to a toxin produced by cyano-bacteria from a variety of sources is accumulating in the brain.

    It looks like the evidence, although only correlation at this point — is strong: people with certain diseases have elevated levels of the toxin in their brains and vice versa. Furthermore childhood swimming in some specific lakes high in cyano-bacteria (which can be absorbed through the skin by swimmers) is being tied to cases of the related neuro-degenerative diseases.

    The reason this wasn’t noticed before is that the toxin from these blue-green algae purportedly (a)naturally occur in the body and are fine at natural levels (b)bio-accumulate in the brain even though they are water soluble.

    If I understand the situation correctly, I’d avoid any extra exposure to this stuff (e.g. swallowing chlorella) until this research has followed its course.

    BTW there is a drug being developed based on this research which may benefit Parkinsons patients, ALS, etc.

    Three Pipe Problem wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • In the past couple years I’ve spent some time piling rocks in a river under a train bridge to give people a covert way to cross. It’s about 3/4 finished. There’s lots of rusty metal in the river and street sewage empties into it. After a while of being in that water my skin feels weird and uncomfortable, kind of greasy or slimy.
      I’ve eaten lots of oysters and crayfish out of there and they’ve always tasted alright but I’m worried about contamination.
      I wonder if there’s basically two natural ways to go.. live long and slowly go insane, or stay relatively sane and drop dead a bit sooner.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • They are speaking specifically about bacteria, not algae (which chlorella and spirulina are). I think you might have confused the two.
      I haven’t read the whole article, so please clarify, are they mentioning algae somewhere there as well?

      Magda wrote on November 1st, 2012
      • My bad, I got to the part where spirulina is mentioned. But the way I see it, it’s an issue of contamination or something that can occur in the wild, not necessarily in the pools where chlorella or spirulina are grown. At least they should be clean…

        Magda wrote on November 1st, 2012
        • You must have missed this part then: ‘I ask about blue-green algae supplements. “Our official policy is that we do not test them,” she says, choosing her words carefully. She refers me to a 2008 paper by Dan Dietrich from the International Symposium on Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms; he found large quantities of BMAA in commercially sold supplements, including ones containing spirulina and Aphanizomenon flos–aquae.’

          cavenewt wrote on July 26th, 2013
  3. I’ve done amaranth once in a while, I feel fine on it just like rice.

    Burn wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • What have you used it for? Pancakes?

      I’ve never even seen it before but am quite curious. I am not as sensitive to grains as other folks. Not that I’ll begin eating grains but what is 3 times a year Amaranth pancakes going to do? Nothing – only make me smile perhaps…

      Primal Toad wrote on October 30th, 2012
  4. That new omega-3 cheese. Although I can’t find it here to buy, Sobey’s is supposed to carry it but I just can’t find it…

    Aria wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Don’t buy omega 3 cheese: definitely NOT Primal.

      Primal Toad wrote on October 30th, 2012
  5. I’m glad to hear that freeze dried fruits are ok. I use them for snacking in the car. I used to snack on walnuts and almonds but they have so many calories. I have never heard of any of the other foods.

    Wayne wrote on October 30th, 2012
  6. nutritional yeast

    quidam wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I second that. Mark, please review nutritional yeast!

      Hilary wrote on October 31st, 2012
  7. Amaranth is one the most common weeds in our garden. We always let as many plants grow as we have room for among the intentionally planted veggies. We harvest pounds of leaves throughout the season for steaming and sauteeing but we don’t mess with the seeds. We actually like the leaves better than spinach.

    lethargist wrote on October 30th, 2012
  8. What about golden algae? It’s supposed to have a nice omega-3 profile. While I wouldn’t bother I’ve been seeing a vegan (ugh, I know, almost a deal breaker but she’s only a month into the new diet). She’s in vital need of nutrition, is golden algae a reliable source?

    tao wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Do vegans still eat – ah nevermind.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
      • : )

        Madama Flintstonefly wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I’ve never heard of golden algae, but I have dabbled in veganism in the past (though now primal). I would recommend she eat spirulina and nutritional yeast…not for Omega 3, but for the health benefits to vegans. She probably won’t consider it, but if you could get her on Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega fish oil that would be great for her. Flaxseeds really aren’t going to get her where she needs to be with Omega-3. And, getting her off PUFAs will work in her favor regarding Omega-3. Also, if she could limit her wheat consumption and focus on rice, sweet potato, and veggies as a carb and spirulina, nuts and tempeh/tofu (although they contain phytoestrogens) as protein, that would be good too. Also, get her on coconut oil, coconut milk, and olive oil.

      Hilary wrote on October 31st, 2012
  9. I have eaten freeze-dried strawberries and no matter how much liquid you add, they are still rubbery and taste gross.

    Happycyclegirl wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I don’t think you’re supposed to add water to them. They are to be eaten dry. They are very sweet. It’s a good snack to have on hand when traveling, you can add some almonds or other nuts for a homemade trail mix.

      Anna wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I don’t like strawberries much after they’ve been frozen. In Guelph, Ontario in a hill field behind the forest behind a college campus I found some small wild strawberries, which were delicious, and there were some also good raspberries in that forest. If anyone sees a tree there with bear claw marks in it with a haphazard stickman/weed leaf carving at about five feet high, that was my doing.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
      • The field near College and Edinburgh?

        Robin wrote on November 3rd, 2012
        • Yes I think that’s the one. I haven’t been there in a while but just looked it up on Google maps and that looks like it.

          Animanarchy wrote on November 5th, 2012
  10. Whole Foods Berry Medley is one of my favorite snacks, it’s frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I actually prefer the taste of frozen berries because they aren’t as sweet. And one if the biggest benefits of buying frozen is price! A pound of frozen strawberries is usually $1.50 or so, can’t beat that.

    Mike H wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • What?! A pound for only $1.50? From where? Whole foods? That is a sick deal.

      Primal Toad wrote on October 30th, 2012
  11. Wondering about wild jungle peanuts. I’ve only been able to find marketing materials from the companies that sell them, but no informational or scientific material. The claims are that that they are very high in protein and oleic acid without the aflatoxins found in standard peanuts. Haven’t been able to find anything that even says whether they are a legume, and if so, how closely they are related to standard peanuts.

    MarkA wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Yes! David Wolfe talks about these. I would think that they are quite different then conventional peanuts. I’d love to learn more for sure.

      Primal Toad wrote on October 30th, 2012
  12. Primordial Soup recipe

    1 serving chlorella
    1 serving spirulina
    1 body of water susceptible to lightning strikes
    1 lightning strike

    Wenchypoo wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Nice!

      JohnC wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • And if you want to make the mix a little less healthy, one lonely bipolar old guy reclining on a cloud.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
      • : D

        Madama Flintstonefly wrote on October 30th, 2012
  13. The new sweetener Nectresse by Splenda. I am a locally produced honey, maple syrup, and stevia powder kind of gal myself, but any new entries into the low-cal sweetener wars make me nervous–especially since this stuff is made by the same folks who bring us Splenda.

    Rhonda the Red wrote on October 30th, 2012
  14. Are credit cards primal? What about RFID chips?

    Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
  15. So the amaranth seeds aren’t primal, but the leaves are? Sorry if that sounds dumb, but the verdict of “Not Primal” after praising the “nutritious leaves” sort of threw me.

    Charlayna wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I’m pretty sure he meant that the amaranth seeds were not Primal. It seems like a reasonable oversight, considering that most if not all leaves seem to be Primal by default.

      Jonathan wrote on October 30th, 2012
  16. I found a dying bee/wasp nest the other day.. really not sure what they were.. I think a type of bee but there was no honey. There were some gestating larvae so I ate a small amount of bug guts, which were pretty much tasteless. I recommend giving that a go but only if you’re reasonably sure the larvae aren’t going to make it to adulthood or it’s the fall.. around Simcoe region in Ontario here there’s nothing left to pollinate so it makes sense to eat the late bloomers.

    Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Animarchy, can I just spend a whole day or week with you? You are single-handily one of the most adventurous people I’ve met or read about. You are seriously the most primal person I’ve met, like climbing in a mass of trees and happening to find something wierd to eat, or going in a wild creek to find natural prawns and mussels and eat them. Please keep living this way, and I presume you do all of this in a rehab?

      Peacemaker wrote on October 30th, 2012
      • Or juvenile hall or psych ward. Or low security parole joint. I’d still spend a full week with him. : )

        Madama Flintstonefly wrote on October 30th, 2012
        • Or her.

          Madama Flintstonefly wrote on October 30th, 2012
        • Jail for me was officially considered maximum security but that’s kind of a joke. It’s not as hardcore as it’s portrayed in the movies. Not even close.. though I did get in one fight there and pummeled some psychopath’s temple.
          I’m male. If you’re interested in seeing me in video you can follow my link or if you want to see pictures you can look me up in the forum, same name.

          Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
      • I cheat. My entertaining comments are mostly written when I’m cyborged on pharmaceuticals, or otherwise buzzed. It’s like Sam using the One Ring to sneak past orcs. But I will definitely keep living this way – the primal lifestyle is my rehab (though I’ve stayed in two.. 7.5 months in rehab programs in total). At the moment I live in a Salvation Army youth shelter. Soon that will change and I’ll be homeless again so I’ll be following a more natural schedule and using welfare money to eat more primal. I’m not sure how long that will last but I want to see if I can tolerate a southern Canadian winter living outside. If I give up, at least I’ll have a little extra money to spend while living in a shelter again.

        Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
        • P.S. Suggestions =/= recommendations.

          Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
        • I think the most primal people are anonymous to the blog-o-sphere.. they’re out there living off the land, working to survive.

          Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
        • Primal indeed. But not primal in the sense that eons ago you would have not merely been “homeless” but rather simply a Darwinian statistic. All the non primal producers allow your artificial primal “bubble” to survive. Sort of like a one man zoo.

          Killshot wrote on November 1st, 2012
  17. What about the ancient emmer and einkorn wheat? Surely later Groks would have harvested the wild versions, and they found einkorn wheat in the tummy of Otzi the Ice Man. Then again, Otzi also showed signs of heart disease in his mid-40’s.

    Even if it’s not totally primal, would it be acceptable for the occasional wheat cheat, or for folks who want to feed their non-primal families something less offensive than dwarf hybrid wheat?

    oxide wrote on October 30th, 2012
  18. Paleolithic man did eat pondweeds and drink water with algae pseudocommensals. Spirulina and chlorella are as close as most of us can get to that now; so, small doses may perform some sort of “old friends” role to support probiotics.
    I’ve always found that a little spirulina makes probiotics more effective, and the “old friends” hypothesis – some synergistic variety of commensals and pseudocommensals being required to regulate immunity – helps explain this.

    Anon wrote on October 30th, 2012
  19. aloe juice/gel – is it primal???
    (it’s supposed to help with digestion & it’s sometimes recommended to chron’s/colitis patients to decrease inflammation).

    sara wrote on October 30th, 2012
  20. Read a few articles on helping crappy immune systems…attacking what they shouldn’t and not attacking what they should, specifically skin barrier defect and herbs that supposedly assist. So, what’s your opinion about various herbs, like feverfew, milk thistle seed, licorice root, echinacea, and others such as schizandra berries, sumac berries, juniper berries, fenugreek etc.?

    chao-

    Sara wrote on October 30th, 2012
  21. I think Mark reads my mind! I was just searching Spirulina and Chlorella today. They are both ingredients in Trader Joe’s “Green Plant” juice. Thoughts?

    Lindsay wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I think that’s egocentrism! No, just kidding, I think you’re just kidding. I think human wifi owns the technological kind.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 30th, 2012
  22. I had Chlorella once but some really strong antibiotics cleared it up.

    rob wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Uhhh.. did you mean cholera? o_O

      Jonathan wrote on October 30th, 2012
      • No it was Chlorella, I had this ugly green discharge coming out of it, like a really thick mucus. So I went to the doctor and he was like “That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen” so they took me by ambulance to a special teaching hospital 400 miles away where they have been working with a new kind of antibiotic and for 14 days they were feeding me this thing through my veins, the market price of this treatment was over $800,000 but they didn’t charge me because I was a test subject, so to make a long story short after 14 days it was totally cleaned up, so the good part of the story is I got to play a role in the development of a new medication.

        rob wrote on October 30th, 2012
        • I still don’t think we’re talking about the same thing here…

          Jonathan wrote on October 30th, 2012
        • That puts my drug store thievery in the dust. I’ve only taken maybe $10000 worth of drugs. Possibly less. Just a tiny scratch in the monster’s hide.

          Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
        • It’s pretty cool how you showed a doctor the most disgusting thing they ever saw.

          Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
      • Hahaha! Maybe he means chlamydia?

        Hilary wrote on October 31st, 2012
  23. Love the info on chlorella – I took it as a youngin’ to try to chelate mercury. And like you said – no one thing is going to be a cure-all.

    Dani wrote on October 30th, 2012
  24. Hi Mark,

    I’m wondering if you’ve done any research into the safety of eating raw cacao. I know chocolate has health benefits, but does raw cacao have more minerals/higher antioxidant content? I ask because certain websites say raw cacao (and chocolate in general) is full of toxins and should not be eaten. Thanks!

    Lindsey

    Lindsey wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • Yes, I wonder about cacao too.

      I figure cacao beans and its derivatives are primal, like coffee beans. I maybe wrong.

      Peter wrote on October 30th, 2012
    • I’ve gone through a few bags of organic raw cacao and never noticed a problem with it. It seemed to increase my energy and vitality.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 31st, 2012
      • ..though if I eat a lot at once it makes me feel a little sick while it’s going through my stomach, but then it seems to digest well.

        Animanarchy wrote on November 5th, 2012
  25. Meant to add, last year sometime I had a surge of mistrust for freeze-dried snacks so did some research. I haven’t looked it up again, but it was something to do with the extraordinary effect the new process had on the fruit, something like extrusion of cereal which messed it up really badly.
    When I think of freeze-dried fruits now I get an auto-image of The Incredibles-new-supersuits scene with the baby crawling through a firestorm.

    Madama Flintstonefly wrote on October 30th, 2012
  26. What about Arctic Zero? It’s getting a lot of buzz here in my town as a “protein shake disguised as ice cream”.

    Michele wrote on October 31st, 2012
  27. Can anyone comment on whether it is worthwhile to spend the extra money on something like Sun Chlorella, which claims a manufacturing process that makes it significantly more digestible than regular chlorella?

    Ook Boo wrote on October 31st, 2012
  28. My question isn’t related to this post, it’s more general. I read that you’re not very fond of McDougnall’s starch based diet and I wonder what you think about autoimmune diseases. McDougnall claims that the origin of these diseases is simple – through the leaky gut proteins enter the blood and your body attacks these proteins. If these proteins are from animal sources, your body will eventually attack itself. So it seems logical to limit animal proteins. On the other hand, you also wrote that people on starch based diet might be slim but their level of cholesterol is still high. It also sounds reasonable – cholesterol is a very important factor in my condition. I’m not on any diet yet, I just try to eat healthy (veggies, fruits, lean meat) and limit milk-based products which make me feel like I’m about to die. I’m very slim (well, underweight), tall, with high cholesterol level, proteinuria and autoimmune vasculitis. It would be great if you could share your opinion on the role of diet in autoimmune diseases.

    (English is not my native language but I hope you understood what I meant!)

    Rollie wrote on October 31st, 2012
    • I also have a disease that’s thought to be autoimmune, so I read about this stuff a lot. Wheat proteins, along with those from other grains,l not just gluten, can also lead to autoimmunity. The line “If these proteins are from animal sources, your body will eventually attack itself” does not square with that at all.

      cavenewt wrote on July 26th, 2013
  29. I believe that amaranth has a moderately high level of oxalic acid, which hinders the absorption of the calcium and zinc. Would this be removed with soaking?

    Christine wrote on October 31st, 2012
    • I think oxalic acid is removed/neutralized through cooking, so since you probably wouldn’t be eating any raw amaranth, it should be OK.

      Same goes with many other dark leafy greens. Not a great idea to eat a lot of raw chard, spinach, beet tops, etc.

      MarkA wrote on October 31st, 2012
  30. Is “primal” just now a synonym for “healthy”?
    Did our ancestors actually purify and eat Spirulina?

    Harry wrote on October 31st, 2012
    • Maybe it’s just the difference between primal and paleo. The paleo diet tries to replicate the diet of paleolithic man, whereas the primal lifestyle tries to incorporate the logic of eating or avoiding certain foods based on what we know about evolution and nutrition, without the dogma of strict paleo. Sure, humans didn’t evolve on a diet of pond algae, which is why Mark said these types of things should be considered as supplements and not primary sources of macronutrients.

      MarkA wrote on October 31st, 2012
  31. spirulina is definitely better as a supplement than a straight up food source. Personally I always have mine in a juice form and it works perfectly.

    Ashley wrote on October 31st, 2012
  32. I didn’t read to many other comments on here today, but am suprised to get the impression that you would be knocking such a good suplement like spirulina…no one in their right mind would eat this as a meal…it is a supplement and you should be pimpin it the mack you are Mark for anyone who gives a crap about their body…that stuff rules and makes ya feel like a 1000 bucks!

    Ed wrote on October 31st, 2012
  33. Before I went Paleo/Primal, I was just gluten free. My Mom bought me some GF crackers and while I was over at her house for the holidays, I munched on a good portion of the box. I started to feel funny, was itchy and my tounge started to swell, so I downed a benadryl fast. The only thing unusual in the ingredients was amaranth. Has anyone else had an alergic reaction to amaranth?

    cindyk wrote on October 31st, 2012
  34. Thanks for giving us the OK to eat two of the oldest foods on the planet; Spirulina and chlorella — on the planet about 3 and 1/2 BILLION years ago – if that’s not ‘primal’ then what is? .. Amazing!

    Pete wrote on November 2nd, 2012
  35. You mentioned Spirulina and Chlorella but no wheat grass? I thought these three things were all grouped together in peaceful blood cleaner groupie love

    dennis p wrote on November 2nd, 2012
  36. I dont understand that mycryo. I associate cocoa butter with SWEET things not savoury, so it doesn’t sound appealing to me. And seriousely, how is freeze dried fat better/more convenient than just putting a spoon of animal fat/coconut oil in your pan?

    reamz wrote on November 4th, 2012
  37. Chlorella plays a particularly crucial role in systemic mercury elimination, because the majority of mercury is rid through your stool. Once the mercury burden is lowered from your intestines, mercury from other body tissues will more readily migrate into your intestines — where chlorella will work to remove it. For more details visit my website.

    Chlorella wrote on November 27th, 2012
  38. I found a green drink with spirulina, sea kelp, and a host of other things… including barley grass. I didn’t realize that it had barley, but I’m wondering if barley and barley grass are different things.

    vivitereamare wrote on January 19th, 2013
  39. I have read above blog yes i agree with you its very difficult to choose one of them which food is prime one i think Spirulina good of them more details please us.

    Spirulina wrote on March 4th, 2013
  40. Regarding Spirolina, I would advise people to read the following article in its entirety. It’s got some interesting comments about Spirolina and supplement testing for safety.

    http://www.psmag.com/health/was-lou-gehrigs-als-caused-by-tap-water-38804/

    cavenewt wrote on July 26th, 2013

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