Dear Mark: Carob, Psyllium, Chia Seeds, and Vanilla

I enjoyed answering your questions last week, so let’s do it again today. We’ve got another triad this time, including another question from Hilde. There’s going to be a lot of fiber talk, some fecal discussion, and even a few bits regarding multi-level marketing schemes. I’m also going to discuss the virulent menace that is the vanilla bean.

(Looking back at the title I just wrote, it sounds like the ingredients for a disgusting raw vegan dessert. Some lukewarm thing with the consistency of paste sloppily shoved into the shape of a brownie and sold for six bucks at the farmers’ market. Yum.)

Okay, on to the questions:

Would you consider carob to be a source of protein or classify it as an “Occasional Indulgence”?


Technically, carob is a source of protein. And by that, I mean it contains measurable amounts of protein. Is it a good source of protein? Is it a rich and reliable source of protein? Not really. A cup of carob powder contains just 4.76 grams of protein. The same amount of white potato contains around 2 grams of protein. So, it’s a better source than potatoes, but that’s not saying much.

Carob should be okay to eat. I wouldn’t even classify it as an Occasional Indulgence; it’s pretty inoffensive, if entirely unexciting. It is exceedingly high in fiber, though – in a cup of carob powder, 41 of the 91 carbohydrate grams come from insoluble fiber – so anyone with existing or suspected GI disorders like IBS might want to hold off on carob. Or not eat a cup of it at once.

Nutritionally, there’s just not a whole lot to carob. It has a bit of calcium and potassium, but you have to eat a lot to get appreciable amounts of either, and its main claim to fame is as a caffeine-free alternative to cacao that kinda tastes like chocolate. I suppose you could go for carob if you honestly prefer the flavor or can’t tolerate caffeine, but as a source of micronutrients (magnesium, copper, potassium especially) and polyphenols, cacao wins every time. If there’s a carob-flavored dessert you’ve been eyeing, go ahead and try it. The sugar it’s made with may be an issue, but the carob is not.

If you’re worried about carob being a legume or a seed full of antinutrients, don’t. While carob does come in pods filled with seeds which likely employ various self-defense mechanisms, the seeds aren’t what we eat (they do use them for animal feed, however). We eat the slightly sweet seedless pods themselves – dried and usually ground up into flour. Ironically, the germ of the carob seed is loaded with protein, and scientists are exploring the use of carob germ flour as an alternative protein source.

So, if you really want to bulk up (your protein intake, not your stool), I suppose you could wait for carob germ protein powder to hit the market.

Is it o.k. to take psyllium seed hulls and chia seed or does it irritate the intestinal system like grains?


I’d definitely avoid psyllium husks. They are the classic stool bulking agents – full of both flora-feeding soluble and colon-rending insoluble fiber. Now, fiber encountered in the wild is fine for healthy people with functioning guts. You eat some plants, maybe a few nuts or seeds, a starchy tuber? You’re gonna take in some fiber. It’s pretty unavoidable. But to go out and intentionally pad your poop stats (girth, viscosity, velocity) with seed husks (not even the seeds; just the dang hulls)? Not advised. Just eat some plant matter if it’s fiber you’re after.

Do you, by any chance, have a relative whose house has suddenly become inundated with cases of Mila Lifemax Miracle Seed?

While I’m generally suspicious of any food involved with multi-level marketing schemes (like all those ridiculous acai power berry juice scams), I’ve briefly written about chia (along with other edible seeds) before. It’s not magical or “lifemax enhancing,” but it is an edible seed with lots of omega-3, albeit substandard ALA. Do I eat them? No; I don’t see the need. Should you? It depends. A few pinches can add tasty crunch to salads or perhaps yogurt, but when you start getting into “three tablespoons” territory – adding it to shakes and taking fistfuls straight to the face, dry – you’re eating lots of oxidizable, vegetable omega-3.

But you were interested in intestinal irritation, right? Loren Cordain got into it with a chia seed hawker who got miffed after Cordain called his research into question. It seems that in one “supportive” study, some markers improved while interleukin-6 (IL-6) and other inflammatory cytokines went up in the chia group, which could indicate increased low-level inflammation normally associated with gut irritation. Furthermore, another study saw a few of its participants drop out of the chia eating group due to gastrointestinal distress. You can go ahead and read the back and forth between Cordain and the other guy yourself. I personally feel Dr. Cordain makes the better case, but you can certainly give chia a shot. I just wouldn’t make it a daily caloric staple – don’t eat meals based on chia seeds (if that’s even possible).

I was wondering if vanilla is healthy. Is it like cinnamon, a healthy addition to my smoothie, or is it more like honey, something I shouldn’t use everyday?


Vanilla is safe for daily use. Vanillin, the primary component of vanilla extract, has a ridiculously high LD50 (PDF). You could drink a couple bottles of extract and be totally fine. Don’t do that, because it’s disgusting, but know that you can.

There’s limited evidence of health benefits, mostly in cancer and cardiovascular disease. Pretreating rats with massive doses of vanillic acid (oxidized vanillin) offered protection when the same rats were induced to have myocardial infarctions. Size of infarcts were reduced in the vanillic acid-fed group. In an in vitro study, vanillin induced apoptosis and arrested the cell cycle of human colorectal cancer cells, and some researchers think vanillin could reduce the metastatic potential (ability to spread to other parts of the body) of human cancer cells in vivo, too. That’s a big “may,” though.

Those are studies either using big doses, rodents, or in vitro set-ups. I wouldn’t get caught up in the speculative health benefits, but I would use vanilla liberally if you enjoy the taste and aroma. I know I do. Go for it.

Thanks for the questions. If you’ve got more, send ’em my way!

Anyone get intestinal benefits from chia or psyllium? Anyone a rep for Mila? Did I miss something in my carob coverage? Let me know in the comment section!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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94 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Carob, Psyllium, Chia Seeds, and Vanilla”

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  1. Glad to know vanilla is approved! I make my own vanilla extract and use it often.

    Thanks for the links about psyllium and other fiber. I’ve got some relatives who’ve bought into the idea that one needs tremendous amounts of fiber and they take the stuff 3 or more times a day, along with a cabinet full of herbal supplements. The amazing thing is, despite realizing that grains are harmful, they still eat those because “healthy food is more expensive.” I guess they could stop spending all that money on supplements and eat real food, but then again… no one is an expert in their own family I guess! Maybe they will listen to you… sending it along now!

      1. Vanilla Extract: Buy vanilla beans on Amazon. Take bottle of plain vodka and add beans, split and scraped preferrably. Give it a shake every couple of weeks. Ready in a month or two. Keeps indefinitly.

  2. Psyllium pretty much ground my digestive system to a halt. I reckon I would’ve had a similar reaction drinking cement.

    Then when you come come to use the loo……..*Boom*

  3. I’m one of those nutty people who really enjoys the taste of carob, but not as a substitute for chocolate. That’s like using tea as a substitute for coffee. Both good and enjoyable, but not the same thing at all.

  4. I was just talking with a co-worker who recently had a Gallbladder attack. She says she now has to avoid all fatty foods. Does the Primal Blueprint have an answer for this?

    1. What she needs to do is a liver and gallbladder flush. Look up Andreas Moritz “The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush.” It provides a natural way to flush gallstones out of the body without surgery and painlessly to boot.

      I’ve done this flush at least 25 times since 2006. It takes some time to set up, but well worth it. One change I would make to Moritz’s instructions – instead of the quart of apple juice a day (shudder!) take two 800 mg malic acid caps a day for two weeks. Same effect with a tiny amount of carbs.

      Also good for people who have had gallstone induced pancreatic attacks as well.

        1. Wish I’d known about this before I had my gallbladder removed. 🙁

      1. I wish I would’ve been able to get that book for my mother-in-law before she agreed to get her gallbladder removed. Now she has to eat low-fat and boring.

        1. No she doesn’t…I had my gallbladder removed last summer, just as I was discovering PB. Now I eat fully primal and full fat and no issues. Your liver just has to adjust to processing the fat at regular intervals vice storing up the compounds for later use. No big deal really. Kinda wish I had given primal a chance instead of listening to the doctor and having one of my god given organs removed…oh well. Live and learn!

        2. I also had my gall bladder removed several years ago and never eat Low Fat but tend to eat a mostly primal diet. Having to eat low fat after gall bladder removal is a myth.

        3. I used to get pretty bad GERD like attacks, after having my gallbladder removed (10 yrs ago), more likely not acid reflux, but bile reflux. They came and went, even when first starting on paleo, but now they’re almost completely gone.

          The docs were useless, they said “eat whatever you like, you’ll be fine.” But if I skipped dinner, I’d wake up coughing up bile, but if I did eat a full dinner, I’d get reflux. So I switched to having a couple of slices of good cheese before sleep and no dinner and that mostly worked.

          Two months ago, I went paleo. About a month ago I started taking Now Super Enzymes whenever I have any meal that has fats and the attacks are almost all gone.

          One night I binged on steak and had a bit of reflux, but I quickly went downstairs and had a tablet of the stuff and went back to sleep half an hour later and no reflux.

          And I don’t need to skip dinner or switch to cheese either.

      2. I question this “gallbladder flush” deeply.
        I recommend researching this thoroughly as many articles indicate it doesn´t work.
        It seems that the “gallstones” excreted are nothing more than artifacts composed of what you actually take in during this treatment. No way they are actual gallstones.
        Please look it up. It´s your health after all!

        1. Oh the flush works, and it can be dangerous because it works. I’ve done it when symptomatic with gallstones. It works, and I know that not because of “stony” poo but because I lodged a stone and got symptoms of acute pancreatitis. I waited a week, eating almost nothing because of the pain before working up the courage to do the process again. I felt the a “pop” and immediately after my pancreatitis symptoms disappeared.

      3. This is good to know since I’m diabetic. where can I get the malic acid caps?
        I’ve been told I probably have a fatty liver. would this help?

        1. Juicing is good for fatty liver and gall stones. BTW, My doctor refused to look at my frozen gall stones that I bright into him like a kid at”show and tell”? How would he pay for his European VayCay if word got out that flushes work? I still had s diseased GB so it had to go. Still, gallstones start in liver, get stored in gall bladder. So I still pass stones. DMSO,.a super solvent, on skin dissolves them too. Or castor oil rubbed over liver at night. I recentlyread that magnesium chloride (I use Alta brand) is good for stones. And a hot Epsom Salt Bath gets those babies moving too. Take it at night and take a spoonful of coconut oil and go to bed. Your body knows what to do….

      4. I would love to hear peoples comment on how large their stones were. I can see using a home flush for small stones a few centimeters wide. I have a single stone the size of a quarter, I’m trying to avoid passing that till further notice.

        What did the stones look like? Gallstones do have a particular look, depending on what they are made up of, they are not all the same.

  5. I remember when health-food stores were loaded with terrible-tasting carob products. That was to keep you from eating anything made with real chocolate, which everyone knew was bad for you!

    1. Ha ha, me too. When I was a child we frequented the health food store because of my little sister’s cow milk/wheat allergy (she did grow out of it later).

      Now the health food store is lined in chocolates because it’s “healthy”. That always gives me a good laugh!

      1. I am 80 and a health nut and internet researcher. My brother is allergic to citrus so I researched it. come to find out he may be low in Pantothenic acid, my nose itches, peppers, low in niacin, etc. niacin is powerful stuff. Used by many natural health practitioners, for arthritic, heart disease, mental problems, MS, etc. Niacin has a positive side affect that is scary if you do not know that it’s going to happen. As always, do the research. listen to your body, allergies are telling us something is missing or wrong in what we eat. Excess processed sugar in our diet can causes over 70 negative reactions in our body. Research: sugar, ‘the sweetest poison of all’. Always hungry? Could we be short of one or more nutrients? Works for me. Never had a doctor, except me and I never went medical school. If I could have one, it would Dr F R Klenner. Never met him, but his papers are on the internet. Died in 1984.

    2. I remember eating carob ice cream, I think it was from Alta Dena dairy, it was yum. I don’t see it in the stores anymore but it would be easy enough just to blend the carob powder into vanilla ice cream. However, I’m staying away from ice cream these days…

  6. my daughter is very allergic to chocolate so we use carob in smoothies etc, nice to know it’s not too bad.

  7. I was reading along, getting my morning dose of information, when all of a sudden I got >here< "(girth, viscosity, velocity)" & I almost lost my coffee through my nose… with velocity!

    oh, & thanks for all the good info

  8. Anybody remember when Haagen Das(sp) made Carob ice cream. I loved that stuff. They also made honey vanill at that time.
    That was in the ’60’s….maybe you had to be in the NE.

  9. Vanilla is added to my coffee, baking & quinoa flake meals. I use chia seeds in berry smoothies/slushies. Those little seeds really do hydrate you. I never tried carobs. (I’ve got drk chocolate lol) Kethy- wished I knew that flush remedy before, I had mine taken out after birth of my son yrs ago.

  10. Chia pudding is essentially a chia-based meal. It’s chia seeds soaked in a flavorful liquid until they expand and take on a tapioca-like consistency. I made it once with homemade raw almond milk, raw coconut flakes, and raw cacao in my brief flirtation with a raw diet. It’s kind of got a vile texture.

  11. Very timely post as I was just wondering about carob today. I’m just starting a primal diet…actually today is day one and I really appreciate all the great info on the site.

  12. I think carob is super exciting because I am allergic to chocolate *gasp-I know* so it is my go-to substitute. Folks who want to try carob: roasted carob powder doesn’t really taste like chocolate but hey, it looks like it. Experiment by substituting for chocolate in a recipe. Or, for a different taste, try raw carob powder. It’s sweeter and more “caramel” tasting, but it is sort of “gritty” so in shakes and smoothies sometimes the raw kind goes down kinda rough (though roasted is fine).

  13. Anybody wanting more information about Fiber and its effects on the digestive system I recommend reading Fiber Menace.

    I’m glad I did, had tons of problems with hard and inconsistent stools, giving me great pains at the beginning of a menstruation….ALL gone.
    He also has a chart on his web site of what doodoo is supposed to look like…can’t help but love this guy:-)

    1. just realised my menstruation loose stools have gone! Another great side effect of Primal life! WOW.. I wonder what else I havent noticed!

  14. Wow! Thanks for the info on psyllium husks. I’ve been adding it to my fruit & veg smoothies for a while…until now!

  15. To all the gallbladder questions out there..
    Yes! Do flush, be aware you may hurt yourself …but I saved my own gallbladder, so I consider it worth the risk.
    I just did the 1 day epsom and lemon/olive oil flush. several times. ick.
    Prior to learning about the flushing,I was in the ER after not eating for a week (owww!) got scheduled for surgery, and while at work, I was leaning over a chair pressing on my GB and I literally felt something roll under my hand. My ultrasound came up empty, and the DR surmised that I must have “passed” the stones. What?! I had never heard of such a possibility.(I had truly found “rocks” in the toilet before, but thought the kids were dumping stuff in the loo) He suggested I test it and go home and eat a fatty meal. I did (delish) and had no pain. What the hell was going on? I started researching..

    All the women in my family had the GB out by age 30, after having the kids. Not eating any good fat. Trying to lose weight. Basically the GB stores bile to digest fat, if you do not eat any fat, the bile just sits and crystallizes, potentially forming stones and debris. It was at the same time, that I was healing my GB with a high fat diet, that I discovered Paleo/Primal. 2005 or 2006? Never had a problem since.

  16. There is also a theory that an area of small intestine near the GB area may be prone to irritation by, say, wheat. Since I increased fat and eliminated grains at the same time, I can’t say for sure…I certainly do not go see a DR these days, as I have no reason to;) So I never had any follow up.

  17. Very interesting! maybe i’ll grow some micro-greens with my chia instead…

  18. Wow and here I was thinking the chia I was eating was so great for me, apparently not. I think I’ll still eat it in my morning yoghurt though, I like the crunch.

  19. chia seeds are an important addition to my low-carb bread — only 2 tablespoonfuls go in it, but the texture is greatly enhanced.

      1. glad to! i hope you have a food processor — makes it very easy.

        Grease a loaf pan with a generous amount of coconut oil, first, and set oven to 350f. Combine:

        2 c. hazelnut flour (or almond)
        1 T. xanthan gum
        2 T. chia seeds
        1/2 t. sea salt
        1 t. baking soda
        1 packet stevia

        Pulse the processor a few times, to blend well. Add:

        4 eggs
        2 t. apple cider vinegar

        Turn on processor just till homogenous — takes just a few seconds! Turn the batter into the pan, smooth it, and bake 45 min. It’s best to keep the finished loaf in the pan till nearly cool, to preserve its shape.

        hope you enjoy it!

        1. Thank you! I’ll give it a try tonight, if I can find any chia seeds in the small-ish town I live in.

        2. think Flax meal would work in place of the Chia? I have that and I’d love to try a low carb bread.

        3. Kitty, i’m sure you CAN use flaxseed, but it won’t have the same texture as with chia — the moisture-retention aspect of it is chia’s “magic”. i’ve used hempseed in this recipe before, and it was okay, but i didn’t like it as well.

        4. Tess,
          Tried your bread last night, without the xanthan gum (which I couldn’t find), and it turned out great! Very soft interior. I enjoyed several slices slathered in butter. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

        5. glad you liked it, John! this is the best low-carb bread for toasting that i’ve made. if/when you find xanthan gum (or alternatively, Expert Foods’ Not-Starch), you’ll get the chewier texture.

        6. Hi this is great
          Can I replace the almond flour with coconut flour? – thanks in advance

    1. Thanks for the recipe! My husband misses bread a lot since I’m not buying it anymore (and I do the shopping), so I’ll give this a whirl.

      1. WildGrok, yes, almond flour was the original ingredient — i just like the hazelnut better, personally.

        Kelly, hope it satisfies your needs! i love bread, but know the usual flours aren’t good for me, so sometimes indulge myself with these substitutes.

        i can recommend Oopsie Rolls, too — there are so many great paleo foods that taste even better on breads….

        1. WildGrok, i finally tried making this recipe with coconut flour, and it came out well, if a little small. use 1/2 c. instead of the 2 c. of nut flours.

  20. I was wondering about Chia seeds after all of the hoop-la made about them in “Born to Run” as a miracle food. As usual, a general non-processed, FOOD-based diet seems to be the best way to do things, whether that includes ‘miracle’ seeds or not. 🙂

  21. Mark, I know this completely goes against your nutritional recommendations as well as the paleo mindset, but it has reasonable research support so I wanted to ask your opinion on it.

    Harvard nutritionist Walter Willet wrote a book (Eat, Live, and Be Healthy) describing a number of studies he conducted on +100,000 participants. Among these, he found that consuming whole grains (i.e. whole wheat bread) was positively linked with decreased hard disease and I believe cholesterol levels as well.

    Do you think his results were merely due to conclusions being taken from the average population? In this way even though whole grains aren’t the best for you, they are healthier than what most people eat.

    I’d love to hear your opinion on this.

    1. It’s off topic but still sad that everyone ignored this, I’d like an answer as well. Yea some pro-whole grain studies are BS but are all of them? really?

      Anyways, I think grok’s argument against studies like that is that people who eat whole wheat bread tend to be healthy in other areas as well, which is where you get the result of the study from (exercise, whole foods, etc). The study would have to have a group of people on EXACTLY the same diet except one group has whole grains and the other does not. And then watch those people over 20 years. If such a study exists I’d love to see it.

  22. I love the news on vanilla. I have a big bottle in the cabinet but do not use it because I just wasnt sure if it was fine to eat or not. Glad to know I can chug a bottle and be fine – not that I ever would…

    I think vanilla is a FANTASTIC addition to smoothies.

  23. So great to see all the other people who have escaped the gall bladder surgery! I had terrible pain and bloating for over a year until i went primal. Tried all of the “right” foods, tons of fiber,etc. Within a week of going primal i had ZERO pain, inflamation, and had lost 10 lbs. I have my life back!!! I’m so thankful for this lifestyle. The family is even joining along.

  24. What form of Vanilla would you support? There is the kind in alcohol, the bean, the kind in Vegetable Glycerine (isn’t that some kind of strange veg-oil?)… what do you think?

  25. I’m a Naturopathic Student. I’ll say that I do like chia if, like flax, it’s been soaked in water for a bit to produce that famous mucilage, which is traditionally meant to protect the gut walls. However, that comes from traditional uses, and I’d like to check out the research by Cordain. I also like soaking chia and flax because if it doesn’t absorb the water and start to look like it might sprout, I know it’s a bad batch. Might not be the best of logic, but it proved that the almonds I bought from the bulk food store instead of my organic supplier one time were completely dead.

  26. Hi Mark, I heard somewhere that carob augmented ( no idea how much , really) the testosterone hormone, in Turkey we eat it for energy and a better love life 🙂 ( amongst other spices and seeds) I eat it for its aroma , with a small cup of Turkish coffee. Mmmmm 🙂

  27. Hi Mark!
    I started out using chia as a smoothie additive to boost my Omega profile (I know better now!), but a very pleasant side effect to my intake has been a significant easing of pain in my knees and other joints. As an aspiring primal mother of three small children, squatting is a necessity and has become almost completely painless since I’ve been eating the chia. If I miss it for two days I can tell a big difference, especially in my knees. Hope this helps!

  28. Mark for my digestion, when I eat a strict paleo diet, I find I have to take psyillium husks just to slow down the transit time for digestion in my gut. If I don’t, I end up doing number 2 about six times a day and it is not pleasant. Why is that?

  29. Personally, I use a small amount of Psyllium (the whole seed, not just the hull) ground up in a coffee grinder as a binding agent when I make low-carb bread from flax meal –I know, not exactly MDA endorsed either, but I figure a few tablespoons a month wont kill me.. —

    Interestingly, the longer I eat primally, the less I desire bread substitutes. So it’s probably been 4 weeks or more since I’ve eaten that recipe.

  30. I experimented with psyllium a while back, to see what effect it might have on my cholesterol.

    I took 2 Tbsp mixed in 2 cups of water, morning and night. I took it for 3 weeks.

    My cholesterol went from 250 to 197, and my LDL went from 180 to 129. HDL went up a few points…

    I had no negative G.I. issues at all, in fact I had a positive effect: Very little need for toilet paper. And no, not because of constipation. The consistency was such that paper was rarely needed.

    I don’t take it anymore, as the experiment ran it’s course, but I found it to be pretty innocuous stuff.

    Does a heck of a job on the cholesterol though…if I had to choose between a statin and psyllium, I’d take psyllium hands down.

    1. Yes fiber in general seems to do a good job of lowering cholesterol, we’ve looked at some studies on both psyllium and oatmeal for that in my botanical medicine class. It is effective, probably even more so for the average non-primal joe.

  31. I recently did a Nature’s Sunshine cleanse with psyllium as a component. My insides feel raw. I’m actually amazed that that much poo came out of me, which on one hand it’s good to get it all out, but I couldn’t take it any longer. I was in a lot of pain from it. When I go primal, I can’t poop and I feel hungry ten minutes after I eat. I’m sick of not having normal poop and I think I’m a carbaholic 🙁 (Just whining, I guess.)

    1. Sarah if you can’t poop on a primal diet I’d suggest you might need more fat in your diet. if you eat enough fat you can eat only meat and fat and still have a daily or twice daily stool, AND by knowing what you ate you can often tell that the food is moving through you in 24 hours or less.

  32. I used to be more than happy to find this net-site.I wanted to thanks on your time for this excellent read!! I positively having fun with every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

  33. Be careful what “vanilla” you choose, Artificial vanillin is a highly chemically processed flavoring which you will probably want to avoid when you read how it is made. Vanilla extract often has corn syrup or sugar added to it. Even Penzey’s Double Strength Pure Vanilla Extract lists sugar on the label!!!! I like to make extract with 4- 5 vanilla beans cut open and put in a jar with a cup of potato vodka. I shake it once in a while and it is ready in about a month. Alaska Permafrost makes a really good potato vodka.

    1. Can you explain a little more about artificial vanillin being harmful ? I’ve found an artificial vanillin with exactly the same information Mark added about vanillin toxicity, in the link below:
      It says “Oral rat LD50: 1580 mg/kg Investigated as a mutagen, reproductive effector.”, same LD50 dose Mark shared, and they are chemically the same whether it is produced artificially or it is from natural vanilla as far as I can tell.

      1. I’ve found the full process flow chart of the vanillin. Guaiacol and glyoxilic acid enter condensation, its product enters extraction, its byproduct enters guaiacol recycle and its product enters oxidation with a catalyst, its product enters decarboxylation, its product enters extraction, its product enters distillation, its product enters crystallization, its product enters drying, its product enters metal detection, and its product vanillin enters packing.

        I’m still not sure if it is harmful.

  34. Great post-I have a few questions.

    (1) Organic brown sugar- is it really that much better than white refined sugar? I enjoy baking a lot, and I try to bake as healthy as possible so I use whole wheat flour and I substitute sugar for part brown sugar and part Stevia…what other suggestions do you have for making baking healthier? Also, what do you think of Stevia?

    1. First of all if you are using white sugar made in the USA and it doesn’t say CANE sugar or organic then you can be almost 90% certain to be using a GM sugar beet sugar.
      I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  35. I eat psyllium everyday on the advice of my GI doctor. I have Celiac disease and was having issues even after stopping the gluten. I eat fruits and veggies but the psyllium is what keeps things normal for me.

  36. Chia “tapioca” pudding
    1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
    4 tablespoons chia seeds
    dash cinnamon
    3-5 drops vanilla
    mix in a bowl, no cooking, refrigerate overnight
    Serves 4
    top with favorite berries
    Calories – 280
    fat = 21 grams
    protein = 5 grams
    carbs = 9.5 grams

  37. Does anyone make carob candies with melted coconut oil, adding carob powder, mixing, and cooling in the freezer? Yummy.

  38. What a relief to read all of these testimonials about fat after gallbladder removed.
    I started my primal journey April 16 and was really enjoying the results. I had what I thought were panic attacks for the last year and a half – they were weekly prior to primal and I only had 2 since makin the switch. But the one last week landed me in the ER and I wasnt given a choice- I was told my pancreas and gallbladder were both very infected and they had to remove the gallbladder once the pancreas wasn’t so inflamed.

    So now it’s 4 days post surgery and I have just started eating solids again. Naturally they told me low fat and bland foods,..I’m not sure what to eat or who to turn to. My surgeon scoffed at primal diet and returned to low fat recommendations. Regular message boards are filled with horror stories about never eating fat again…so happy to know that I can start easing myself back on plan and finally get my health back!!! Thank you

  39. Chia seeds are actually really tasty- not in the dry and boring form but 2/3 of a cup of coconut milk mixed with 3 TBS of chia (yeh you nailed me on the amount but this isn’t a daily affair) and heaps of vanilla turns into like a tiny sago pudding if you leave it out, mixing every so often for an hour… Or only like 15 minutes if you heat the coconut milk first.

    So yes, it is entirely possible to have a meal based on chia seeds… In my weaker moments I have done this.

  40. I sense a bit of bite in your article today mark! Great read, I’m glad vanilla is safe because I love it. Normally using vanilla bean powder tho, not the extract.

  41. I was looking for a natural vanilla extract or vanilla a few years ago and I found something titled “Vanilla” in another language with a very low price and since I wasn’t aware that the price would be ridiculously low for what I was looking for, I bought that. And guess what I discovered it was, it was “Eternal Pearl” brand vanillin and it tasted awful. But since I learnt that vanillin was an antioxidant and my mother strongly opposed sending it back, I decided to use it in very small amounts, about 3 milimetres with the back of a teaspoon for something with sweet fruits. Later my mother used it and regretted that she opposed me sending it back. Today I checked a while about if it could be more harmful than helpful, I found that it is a mutagen, reproductive effector, but listed with exactly what Mark shared about its toxicity, “Oral rat LD50: 1580 mg/kg Investigated as a mutagen, reproductive effector.” You can check it in the link below:
    I wonder if it really could be more harmful than helpful as FarNorthGirl mentioned because it is most likely artificial vanilla as well probably made from guaiacol or from lignin, a constituent of wood, which is a byproduct of the pulp industry as wikipedia tells though it does not have any sort of sweetener in it. Or maybe it is good in such amounts but I don’t know… Any input is welcome.

    1. Sorry, I’ve forgotten to choose to get notifications of replies. Keep up the good work Mark !

  42. No one has mentioned that Chia seeds make fantastic microgreens for salads. I grow baby greens and sprouts during the miserable winters where I live; saves on what I have to purchase, and has plenty of nutrients.

  43. Psyllium saved me, I woundn’t avoid it just because it’s not primal.

    My bowel problems which I believe started due to drug and alcohol abuse can cause me major colon problems. My bowels continued to leak well after I went to the toilet. Psyllium husk is the only cure I have found through years of suffering (and yes I tried primal diet before psyllium)

    As far as taking it when you aren’t experiencing issues, I really don’t see the point.

  44. Chia amuses me. It’s Mexican sage. That’s it. Nothing exotic, just another version of the sage you have in your spice cabinet. I had some old packets of garden sage and was presoaking them to see if they were still viable for the garden this year, and was amused to discover they do the same thing chia does, which is form a gel around themselves when they’re wet. It was like handling booger seeds.

    I suppose chia might form more of the gel than maybe Salvia officinalis does, but I don’t know for sure. Might try to see if I can obtain a small amount to check.

  45. I just found what appears to be rodent parts in my organic psyllium. I feel sick to my stomach as I have used up 1/3 of the package. I don’t know what to do. Can somebody make suggestions?