Is It Primal? – Sprouts, Agave Nectar, Tapioca and Other Foods Scrutinized

Since it seems to be popular with this crowd, and we’re never running out of questionable foods, I figured I’d take the time to put together another round of “Is It Primal?” I got most of these choices from the comment sections of previous posts, along with follow-up emails. As always, feel free to fill in the blanks after the post. I have a strong feeling this will become a recurring series of posts, and I’m going to need plenty of material. Today, we’re talking about seven foods: sprouts of all kinds and origins; agave nectar, nectar of the metabolic syndrome gods; soy lecithin; coconut aminos, what hipsters have moved onto from tamari; tapioca, gummy starch; animal skin, food of the gods; and Quorn, “food.”

Let’s go:


Sprouts are a bit like sprites, in that they’re all over the place, agile, and difficult to get a bead on. Whether it’s pro-sprout or anti-sprout, solid data is tough to pin down. For one, “sprouts” is an incredibly non-specific term. Sprouts can come from legumes, grains, vegetables, and nuts. In other words, if it’s got a seed, you can get a sprout from it. And so you can’t look up the nutritional data for “sprouts,” because that would be like looking up the nutritional data for “meat.” It could be almost anything.

What we need to analyze, then, is the sprouting process. Does it do anything bad? Good? Is it neutral?

Sprouting tends to convert some of a seed’s sugar into vitamin C (to act as an antioxidant for the plant). That’s good. We no longer make vitamin C ourselves, so we need an exogenous source. Not a lot, but some.

Sprouting tends to reduce phytic acid (but not saponin content).

What about specific sprouts? I dug up a few citations:

Sunflower sprouts have anti-glycative and antioxidant effects, due to their elevated cynarin content.

Broccoli sprouts sound great, particularly for type 2 diabetics. In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, they reduced oxidized LDL (and improved the oxLDL/LDL level) and decreased triglycerides in diabetic patients. They also reduced insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. And finally, they reduced oxidative stress in type 2 diabetics.

If you’re making your own, note that antioxidant levels wax and wane throughout the sprouting process, at least in broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane, the potent antioxidant responsible for many of broccoli’s benefits, declines upon germination, then increases slowly until hitting its high point at 48 hours post-germination, after which it declines. But don’t worry; glucoraphanin, which converts into sulforaphane, increases during the first 12 hours, sharply drops, then rises again, reaching the highest levels at 72 hours post-germination. Of course, glucoraphanin requires the enzyme myrosinase for conversion, but broccoli sprouts are particularly high in myrosinase, so you’re ending up with plenty of sulforaphane either way.

I see no reason why sprouted celery seeds, broccoli seeds, radish seeds, or lettuce seeds wouldn’t be perfectly Primal. Lentil, oat, or bean sprouts? Probably not technically, although even those would be far less problematic (bean sprouts go great with spicy Thai food on a hot day). Just be aware that they have been linked to international E. coli and salmonella outbreaks, probably due to the warm, moist growing conditions required for sprouts.

Verdict: Primal, depending on the starter seed.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a favorite whipping child of the Primal set, but we should substantiate our claims, don’t you think? We need to justify those welts, especially since a few of you guys were wondering (hoping?) about its place in the Primal Blueprint.

Agave nectar is insanely high in fructose. Of the sugar present, up to 92% of it is pure, unadulterated fructose. That’s considerably more than table sugar, most honey, and even high-fructose corn syrup. If we want to avoid fructose, agave nectar must also be avoided.

However, the recent honey post shows that not all sugar behaves the same. Honey – a “natural product” – contains a wide range of bee-based phenolic compounds that appear to render its sugar content less harmful than, say, a dose of HFCS with the same amount of fructose. Since agave nectar is also “natural” (it’s gotta be, with “nectar” and an exotic word like “agave” in the name), could it too be different than other sugars. No. A recent study found that while stuff like honey, molasses, and maple syrup all contain significant amounts of antioxidants that potentially mitigate the metabolic damage wrought by the sugar therein, agave nectar – along with refined sugar and corn syrup – has almost none. Even raw cane sugar beat agave nectar out in the antioxidant category.

Verdict: Not Primal.

Soy Lecithin

Many of your favorite darkest chocolates contain soy lecithin as an emulsifier, promoting smoothness and a luscious mouthfeel (whatever that means). Dark chocolate? Great. Anything with “soy” in it? Bad, or so we have been conditioned to react. But is it?

In a previous Dear Mark, I made the case that a little soy lecithin in your chocolate is nothing to worry about, even going so far as to mention the choline content as a benefit. Since the influx of questions on soy lecithin, however, I’ve revisited my stance and found some new evidence. It seems that across a whole host of soy products, soy lecithin was the most estrogenic (though estrogenic activity was found in almost all foods tested, even non-soy ones). And in “frozen rat spermatozoa,” soy lecithin – but not egg yolk (another source of choline) – interfered with mitochondrial function. Contrary to my previous assertion that soy lecithin cannot trigger soy allergy in allergic people, another study found that soy lecithin could contain “hidden soy allergens.”

I would caution any soy-sensitive individuals to stay away from soy lecithin, just to be safe. If you’re worried about missing out on a great dark chocolate, plenty of legit brands contain no soy whatsoever. Just check your labels. I would also suggest that any chocolate eaters with unexplained unpleasant symptoms make sure the chocolate they favor contains no soy lecithin, and try switching to a soy-free brand for a month. If you feel better, you might implement soy lecithin avoidance as a general rule.

Everyone else, don’t shy away from good dark chocolate. Just don’t eat it too often, supplement with soy lecithin, nor feed your baby dark chocolate.

Verdict: Not Primal, but small amounts in occasional chocolate shouldn’t be too bad for most people.

Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos are the soy sauce replacement du jour, a gluten-free, soy-free combination of aged coconut sap and sea salt that tastes somewhat like soy sauce. It’s not an exact match, but it’s not really trying to be an exact match. Coconut aminos are their own beasts, and these happen to be tasty beasts.

That said, there’s nothing really remarkable or magical about them. Its purveyors like to talk about the presence of 17 amino acids, but so what? Trace amounts of certain amino acids in a sauce that you’ll consume by the tablespoonful probably aren’t going to amount to much of anything. Consume it for the unique taste and the lack of soy and wheat.

Verdict: Primal.


I’ve covered tapioca flour in a previous Dear Mark post, in which I gave it a relatively clean bill of health. Tapioca is simply purified cassava starch, with basically everything else removed. My original pronouncement hasn’t changed much. It’s fine as far as starches go, if you’re active and using the carbs. I would’t go overboard with it, especially if it comes in pudding or boba tea form, but it’s definitely a “safe starch.”

The major downside is that it’s just starch. It’s extremely low in anti-nutrients, sure, but it contains almost no nutrients, either. The biggest claims to fame of a cup of the stuff are 2% of the RDI for folate and 2.4 mg of iron. It won’t do you much harm, but it won’t do you much good, unless all you’re after is glucose.

Verdict: Primal.

Animal Skin

I almost didn’t include this one, because I figured it was a no-brainer, but then I figured that if several people are asking about the suitability of animal skin on a Primal eating regimen, it’s likely that a lot of people are avoiding it just to be safe. I think that’s a tragedy, and I aim to rectify and prevent it.

Animal skin is fantastic. In the past, I’ve discussed my love for sockeye salmon skin (bacon) and roasted chicken skin, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm. At restaurants, I often see people delicately remove chicken skin with polite disgust on their faces. At my local seafood market, I’ll often ask the guys behind the counter to save me the Pacific salmon skin that people have removed. I think they’re nuts for doing it, but I’m happy to take advantage of their mistakes.

Although I wouldn’t recommend eating charred, crispy animal skin every day of the week (although braised, gently-cooked animal skin is fine all the time), animal skin in and of itself is highly nutritious. Salmon skin is high in omega-3s. Other animal skin is high in animal fat, plus collagen and gelatin, which are excellent for joints, nails, hair, and skin while providing a nice counterbalance to a regular intake of muscle meat. As long as the animal in question was healthy and fed a good diet, I would never shy away from a serving of animal skin.

Verdict: Highly Primal. If you’re not eating it, send it to me.


Until today, I’d always assumed that Quorn was a mock meat derived from corn, a grain. That makes perfect sense, right? I mean, it sounds like “corn.” Now that I realize it’s a mock meat derived from a fungus, I feel betrayed. I suppose I understand the decision – Fusarium venenatum doesn’t really have a ring to it – but it’s not really the origin of the stuff that turns me off (although that doesn’t help). It’s the fact that Quorn (do I have to capitalize that?) is fake meat, and people are presumably eating it despite the presence of actual, real, delicious, nutritious meat.

Vegetarians? Any vegetarian who chooses Quorn as a protein source over pastured eggs is nuts. Oh, and speaking of nuts, I’d eat nuts for protein before Quorn, too. Vegans? Sure, go ahead and eat your quorn for protein. I’m frankly not all that interested.

Before you fill your chest freezer with Quorn Tenders, Quorn Cumberland Sausages, and Quorn Tikka Masala (all real products, by the way), however, read about the allergic reactions people have had to Quorn. Some sources claim 4.5% of people who eat Quorn get sick, while other sources say just 1/140,000 report adverse reactions. I don’t think it’s a huge risk unless you’re sensitive to molds, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Verdict: Not Primal, but not because it comes from a fungus. Just eat some meat, dude.

That’s it for today, folks. I hope I didn’t crush any dreams or ruin any dinner plans (agave nectar marinated Quorn steaks, served with a soy lecithin-emulsification). I just wanted to keep you honest.

Do the same for me and leave a comment. Thanks!

TAGS:  is it primal?

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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344 thoughts on “Is It Primal? – Sprouts, Agave Nectar, Tapioca and Other Foods Scrutinized”

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    1. However – there is no mention in this article of alfalfa sprouts and its antinutrient L-canavanine. Loren Cordain recommends to avoid them.
      It would be great if you could address this.

      1. I swear when I pour seeds into the old sprouting jar my mom gave me, and watch things happen magically (just add water!) I just get giddy like a child and think “I’M GONNA EAT SOME TEENSY PLANTS!” Perhaps I should consider L-canavanine… or perhaps I should not 😉

        1. My ex used to call my sprouts “vegetarian veal”. Still makes me giggle!

      2. My wife has a great sensitivity to most cruciforms, which give her great intestinal distress. Alfalfa sprouts do the same thing, while “regular” bean sprouts don’t affect her.

      3. Broccoli sprouts are the only sprout I quit eating because they smell so bad when sprouting. Maybe I’m sprouting them wrong. Let me know exactly how to do the Broc-sprouts someone.

        1. I sprout Broccoli all the time and it never smells bad… LOL… I rinse twice a day, morning and evening, in a large mason jar. I don’t let the jar get too packed with the little suckers or else I can’t rinse em good. When I rinse… I fill the jar up all the way and then shake it back and forth to wash the little guys off… if the water looks murky, I do it again until it’s clear. (Note: I keep a bucket by my kitchen sink and save the rinse water, then pour it on my plants outside).

          Perhaps your sprouts just need a good rinse? I suspect all the flap about Ecoli and such is because (a) the sprouts are not being rinsed often enough or thoroughly, and (b) because folks let their jars get packed with the little guys thus air can’t circulate and with all that nice warm moisture other stuff just naturally wants to join the party.

          I think the big concern comes from commercial producers of sprouts who use automated misters to moisten their seeds. I doubt their running around shaking jars and checking to see if the rinse water is clear. But, I’m thinking of experimenting with a very mild food grade hydrogen peroxide rinse solution for my last rinse to make sure my little guys are bacteria free.

          Can you tell… I dig sprouting… it’s just so darn fun!!!

        2. Soak seeds 6-12 hrs then rinse well. Shake dry-ish. Don’t beat them up just shake well. Now sprout by spreading seeds out in a stainless mesh colander resting over a larger bowl.

          Rinse 2-3 a day – you can use a watered down Braggs vinegar in the rinsing. Or a sprout wash solution. Available on sprout sites. If you want a vessel to sprout in, they sell them too.

          Do not soak or sprout in sunny location. As soon as you see a tail appear they have germinated and you can eat. “Cracked seed”.Can take 3 -6 days to harvest with a longer growth.

          Never put in fridge wet and rinse daily before eating.

          Your sprouts should NEVER EVER have an odor. Toss them if they do.

  1. “Animal Skin: Highly Primal. If you’re not eating it, send it to me.”

    Lol. No way, dude. I love my crispy chicken skin! 😀

    1. Have you tried the crispy skin of a roasted pork? (pork shoulder, aka pernil) Unbelievably delicious!

      1. I been eating pork rinds and calling them primal. I don’t want to hear different.

      2. When we were kids (waaay back in the ’50s!), we used to wait with anticipation for Sundays, when we often would have a pork roast. The skin was, at that time, left on by most butchers, and that crispy treat was fought over by all of us. Today it’s rare to see a roast that has skin on it. Too bad.
        And my wife won’t eat chicken skin -“it’s full of fat”, which she has been convinced is the source of HER fat. *sigh*

    2. I was always brought up on wholesome homemade food and the skin of a roast chicken and the parson’s nose was always fought after – my husband’s family look at me in disgust as I almost salvage it from the trash……so good to hear it’s fantastic stuff – though I never doubted it in the first place

        1. Parson’s Nose?

          guess what?
          chicken butt!!!

          The parson’s nose is the butt-bones of a bird.

        2. My grandmother used to call it the Pope’s Nose. Never heard anyone else ever call it either…

        1. It was called the part that went over the fence last in my family. Highly fought over.

    3. I love the skin on salmon, and since my partner doesn’t, I eat his too, especially when it is a little crispy. Delicious!

      1. Pork rinds relieve my craving for potato chips. And they are self-limiting – I don’t get that “can’t stop until I eat the whole bag” reaction.

        1. pork rinds are definitely self-limiting for me. I can’t choke through more than two of those things before I’m totally done with them.

        2. Amen to that Sister… I just have to look at them and I’m done! LOL

  2. What is primal? I thought this site was about eating like our pre-agricultural ancestors ate. Did they spout seeds to eat them, or did they, maybe eat some sprouting plants? Soy wasn’t even considered a food until about 1200 years ago, after the Chinese learned to ferment it. What did the hunter-gatherer people eat? The ones that were documented by anthropologists of the 19th and early 20th Century. Can we eat that way? Probably, but it wouldn’t be easy. It seems MDA takes a pragmatic approach to “primal eating,” that is, is the food in question better or worse, all things considered, for our health. These are modern times, the pragmatic approach is probably the best.

    1. “I thought this site was about eating like our pre-agricultural ancestors ate.”

      More a starting point than a strict dilineation. PB allows or advocates eating quite a few modern foods, e.g. dark chocolate, because even though we evolved to eat some foods and not others, we live in the modern world, so determinations need to be made unless one is committed to restrictive eating.

      In short, Primal =/= paleo.

      1. Cocoa “beans” are the seeds of a fruit, so even though we didn’t start eating that particular food until recently, it still sends the fruit signal.

    2. It’s not about re-enactment. Kurt Harris over at Archevore also mentions that just because a food is Neolithic, it doesn’t make it automatically bad. Olives and coconut milk come to mind.

      1. i second that it is not about “re-enactment”.

        FYI: i read that in the old days, that people (Chinese?) carried seeds on ship & sprout to prevent of scurvy.


        1. At the risk of getting way off-topic, some in-depth study of ancient Chinese seafaring would be of interest (at least to me.) Scurvy solutions, other than citrus fruits, must have existed for centuries.

        2. @Barrie, I have two scurvy solutions for you, but both were on land. Miner’s lettuce is so named for the white folks stuck in the mountains mining all winter who went nuts on the stuff that natives introduced to them. And in the Arctic, hunters would immediately eat the adrenal glands of their kill. Cool stuff.

    3. Wow, whatever one’s stance may be, I enjoyed reading your comment simply for the literacy!

    4. Well as to our ancestors sprouting plants, I’m pretty sure as hunters and gatherers they picked wild baby greens… so now we don’t have to go hunt… HURRAY!!!

    1. Me too. If bones are cooked enough to be chewable I mentally regress to an earlier form of hominid and lose most of my table manners.

      1. I hear you! My friends gawk as I gnaw the ends off drumsticks.
        And ribs.
        And now I’m getting hungry for crunchies…. 🙂

        I try to avoid the bone itself. But the marrow’s usually fair game.

      2. I always thought it was nuts that my dad and uncle would sit there and suck on chicken bones. All the cousins and I would sit there snickering, but now I know better! I love the bones of roast chicken, or boiled for broth. My uncle and dad also swallow olives whole (pit and all), and my uncle eats the apple with the seeds. I have much to learn.

        1. I know of people who eat apples whole, too. The seeds do contain cyanide, but apparently in miniscule amounts. Many stone fruits’ seeds, such as peaches, have larger seeds than apples, and their cyanide content (talk about a natural way to limit predation!) is greater.

        2. About the olives: wow. I don’t know what kind of olives you eat, but a lot of the varieties I have run across have really pointy (read: gut-perforating) ends to them. Not sure that’s an attractive experience…

          I do go after bones and marrow myself, though – LOVE dat Krunchy Kartalage!!!

  3. A couple days ago while trying to catch some fish with my hands in a river I found a wild oyster, or maybe a clam .. some slippery creature in a shell anyhow .. pulled it open and ate it alive. It’s like it was meant to be food. It tasted great, went down super easy, and as I hastily devoured it there was absolutely nothing wrong in my world. I felt like Pacman.
    I also ate a couple snails and ants. The snails were sort of bland but the ants were like candy. All you have to do is lie down in the grass and food will crawl on you!

      1. tee hee hee! I remember my mother telling me how the “candy man” used to sell the kids chocolate covered ants and grasshoppers as they walked to school. I’ve not been brave enough to try it, but take comfort in the fact of a plentiful food source!

        1. They are the best live. The acid they use as defense tastes like lemon drops 🙂

        2. One bit my tongue just a little earlier today and it didn’t hurt. It was kind of enjoyable.

        3. Carpenter ants taste like lemon pepper. Pinch them in half and eat the abdomen. I learned it at the lobster museum in Bar Harbor. I was the only person in the group who tried them.

        4. My friend on their self defense: “That’s not a very good defense.” Then we ate some.

      2. As a kid (1st grade if I remember correctly) I got curious and licked the side of a tree covered with ants. My tongue was sore for the next 5 days. Ants bite… literally!

      3. okay, I’m officially requesting a post on edible insects. BAM!

        1. Yes please! And not just wild ones. People who know edible wild plants still garden for efficiency’s sake, and similarly a lot of us could benefit from a discussion of growing our own bugs. Growing mealworms, earthworms, and others takes much less space and work than even chickens do- much less beef. Bug food (generally free) + very little work or space = delicious, nutritious food!

        2. While I was digging in the yard I discovered I am being overrun by snails. Lightbulb! I am now looking into “snail ranching.” Basically, you trap the live snails, feed ’em lettuce for a week to pass any pesticides through, fast them for another week to clean out their gut and BAM! They are ready for a quick steam and some garlic butter. I will let you know how it turns out…

      4. An easy way to trap ants is to mix a little bit of apple sauce with water and leave the jar slightly open. Then you can present the ant with a stick. It grabs onto it, thinking that it’s being saved. I discovered this by accident.

        1. Ooooh the green ants in North Queensland, Australia are the best. Super Zesty!

      5. This comment was edited by someone. What I originally said was, “If you liked Gushers as a kid, I suggest you try ants”. I find the editing somewhat appalling. I guess it’s done with good intentions but it’s hampering free speech. I don’t want to be misrepresented. I finally got to peruse The Primal Blueprint that I requested this library to order in a long time ago (can’t take it out without ID) and I didn’t know Mark made material from the book into posts verbatim. I don’t see anything wrong with that but I thought all the posts were new stuff.

        1. Or maybe I did that editing by myself before posting. I don’t know. Memories can be hazy when you drop in and out of the alterverse.
          Also, maybe what I thought came from the book to the blog came from the blog to the book. I could check dates on posts, however I am too occupied.

    1. Eating raw snails and raw freshwater shellfish is extremely unwise. They are used as intermediate hosts for a slew of helminth parasites, many of which do infect humans. Mammals and birds eat the snails or shellfish and become infected with the worms. Once the worms reach maturity in these final hosts, the host may defecate in the water, contaminating it. Young worms seek out and infect snails, shellfish, etc. where the cycle continues.

      Cook your meat — man discovered fire for a reason.

        1. If you consider tapeworms, flukes and roundworms symbiotes, not only are you factually wrong but you have issues.

        2. Symbiotes cause no harm to the host. Parasites cause a lot and in the case of tapeworms and other helminths, they can end up in your brain or spinal cord, cause cysts and inflamation. Occasionally they cause death, but often long term or even permanent disability.

          Cook your shellfish. Really.

      1. I don’t see why it is wrong to eat raw snails and shellfish? Maybe for the few freshwater shellfish that are dangerous or certain species of snail, that are very dangerous. Have you ever eaten raw freshwater mussels and/or clams, amazingly delicous. As for the snails, there is a French dish that is like escargot but is raw and I think alive. I haven’t tried that but I’ve heard it’s good.

        1. And George, man found and discovered the use of fire by accident. They used it as protection against animals like predators. Also, to light the camp and possibly make tools and weapons.

    2. Eating a river shellfish is a possible way to get sick. That’s why it’s recommended to not eat ocean shellfish in the months that end in r. That you walked away is good, wouldn’t suggest it again.

      While we can approximate our ancestors lifestyle, we don’t want to imitate it exactly as they died in their 40’s from things like infection and we want to stay away from that.

    3. I admire people like you. So primal. I hope someday that I may aspire to be that primal and eat everything raw, wet, and wild. Hopefully it will be my choice and not forced upon me by the times. Right now I’m dealing with a bit of a repulsive factor thinking about eating raw snails, unknown oysters, and crunchy ants. I have eaten raw meat (beef), and swallowed raw egg yolks (easy). Raw meat does not taste at all the same as cooked. Totally different flavor. I hope to learn more raw food eating, always better than organic, of course.

      1. I tried raw salmon once and it almost tasted the same as when it’s cooked.

        1. Salmon, like other anadromous fish (migrates between fresh and salt waters), can carry nasty parasitic worms, and should only be eaten raw if it has been previously frozen to 0 F or below for several weeks to kill the lurkers. Or it should be cooked through. Salting and /or hard smoking will usually do the job as well. Ditto with the rest of the freshwater fish.

          Also watch out for Red Tide contamination in ocean filter-feeders – it will kill you. You can’t cook this one to safety. And as far as oysters and other shellfish are concerned, beware of Vibrio infections through cuts or abrasions – this is another fast-moving killer.

          It’s not just about being romantically atavistic – it’s also about being as smart as we can be for good health.

  4. Seriously, people. Skin is delicious. That’s the best part of eating chicken. It’s like the creamy filling in Oreos.

  5. I definitely have noticed that I often feel headachy, stomach crampy, or both, after eating chocolate with soy lecithin in it. Some of my fav high quality chocolates have it. I now flip through the racks of chocolate bars at whole foods, frustratingly looking for the soy-less options (answer: not many, and some of the ones that I do find end up getting discontinued within a month or so). Sometimes I break down and get some chocolate with soy in it, if its the only option, but if i eat more than a square I regret it >.<

    1. Lindt 85% does not have soy lecithin in it. It’s my go-to chocolate and cheap (2 for $5) at my local grocery store.

      1. Great tip on the 85% Lindt not containing soy lecithin – I was surprised to find that the lower percentages (including my family’s favourite 70%) did contain it.

      2. The Lindt 85% and 90% both say “may contain traces of…soy lecithin.” I’m not sure what ‘traces’ means quantitatively, but I’d say it’s in there. Is it enough that it matters? Dunno. Am I still going to eat some Lindt 90% tonight? Yes. But I might look for some other chocolate options too. Amyone know if Green and Blacks does a 90%

        1. Usually it means somewhere in the factory there is a production line that uses it.

          Either that or “We cannot guarantee that one of the workers didn’t have X for lunch and washed their hands properly afterwards.”

          Same applies for gluten.
          Or my favorite:
          “Recipe – no nuts
          Factory – no nuts
          Cannot guarantee nut free”

        2. ‘Traces’ generally just means it is produced on the same machinery or in the same area as the products that contain soy lecithin, so it’s probable that some has transferred into the product. They have to include that on the label to alert those who may have serious allergies. You’ll often see ‘may contain traces of peanuts’ on chocolate as well, but that doesn’t mean it’s filled with peanuts… just that it probably got some peanut dust on it.

        3. It’s probably processed on the same equipment as the versions which do contain soy lectithin. So, they have to state that because some might sneak in there even if the equipment is cleaned. That’s my guess.

        4. Don’t know about 90 but Green & Black’s has an 85% dark and it does not have soy lecithin.

      3. I used to be a big fan of the lindt 90% due it’s soy-free status, but it’s processed with alkali, so I don’t do that anymore, either. Raw cacao does it for me, and if you need candy, there are dark chocolate bars out there not alkali processed and soy free if you look.

      4. Lindt puts barley malt into most of their chocolates…… which has gluten. It makes me sick, because I am gluten intolerant.

    2. Does baking chocolate have soy in it? I know cocoa powder doesn’t.

      You may have to make your own chocolate bars. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a recipe on here somewhere.

      1. Coconut butter, Cacao powder, & honey. . . that’s all you need to make chocolate bars. I just dump it together over medium heat until it tastes like I want it to. . . spread it out into a pan lined with parchment and chill in the freezer until firm. Break, eat, yum! You can make almond butter cups this way too. . . line a mini muffin pan, put chocolate in bottom, freeze until firm, dollop in some almond butter (can sweeten with honey if needed) and top with more chocolate, freeze until firm. Love it!

        1. If you put hot food directly in the freezer, you heat up your freezer tremendously in the process of cooling the hot food.

          Better to put it in the fridge to cool it, then transfer to freezer if necessary.

        2. Thanks! Can’t wait to try this. I like being able to select my own ingredients, not relying on factory creations.

        3. That sounds delicious, Jamie! Could you give approximate amounts?

        4. ZOMG! almond cups sound AMAZING! I can’t wait to try these out, combining my two favorite primal desserts

        5. I do this too. ¼ cup coconut oil, 3 tbsp cocoa powder. The amount of honey/stevia/xylitol is up to you. You can throw in some grated coconut, any kind of nuts, whatever you want.

        6. THANKS!!! Do you have suggestions on proportions? particularly between the coconut butter (coconut oil?) and cacao powder? I realize the honey is probably ‘to taste’ but would imagine the other two have some sort of ‘optimal proportion’?

          This is awesome – I constantly wonder why chocolate makers don’t use honey instead of cane sugar! 🙂

        7. ok… ignore my question, thanks to the other person who posted proportions!!! 🙂

        8. For every 4-5 Tbs of coconut cream/butter (1/4 cup ish) I add 2-3 Tbs cacao powder and honey to taste. Balanced Bites recommends adding some almond flour as well. . . I don’t have the link, but I’m pretty sure it’s on the site. The Well Fed Homestead recommends making chocolate using unsweetened baking chocolate (8oz) to 2 Tbs coconut oil, 1 cup honey, some vanilla and a dash of sea salt. . .

        9. I know what coconut cream is; I can buy it in an Asian grocery store. What is coconut butter?

      2. Primal candy: melt and layer (or combine) any of the following ingredients:
        Cacao Powder
        Cacao Butter
        Real cow butter
        Coconut oil
        Coconut flakes
        Nuts and dried fruit
        Sweetener of choice
        Spread out on a large baking sheet for “bark” or in deeper pans for “chunks”.
        I get some of my ingredients from Wilderness Family Naturals.

    3. I like Nibmor, which makes a Raw Vegan chocolate bar (although, I’m racking my brain… it may or may not be made with agave – boooo!)
      I find that things made for raw vegan diets are usually acceptable for paleo, primal, low carb. (but “regular” vegan, not so much)

    4. TAZA is a Mexican-style stone-ground chocolate company from Massachusetts that usually has 3 ingredients total in it, depending on the flavor. They have ones lice cinnamon, orange, salt and pepper (!!!), ginger, chipotle… but they also have an 87% dark bar that uses beans sourced from Bolivia that taste INCREDIBLE. They’re dairy free, soy free, gluten free… SUPERDELICIOUS… (i swear I am uninvolved with that company and don’t get kickbacks, I just really REALLY love their chocolate and, given my job, have seen a LOT of chocolate)

        1. Hahaha, I’m a chocolate, tea, and housewares buyer for a Whole Foods in Texas! It is… nifty, to say the least!!

  6. Even if some posts seem repetitive or follow the same theme, I’m amazed at Mark’s ability to churn out new material daily after writing so many posts. I always enjoy reading the new posts even if I don’t learn anything, though I usually do, or have something to ponder or at least exercise my intellectual faculties. Good job Mark!

  7. Thanks Mark – funnily enough I was wondering about where sprouts ‘sit’ in the pantheon of paleo…

  8. My husband was listening to a report, probably on NPR, saying that rotisserie chicken skin was one of the worst in terms of carcinogens (due to the long cooking times). I occasionally buy one in a pinch and having been using what’s left of the bird to make bone broth. Carcinogenic or not?

    Lindt makes a great soy lethicin-free dark chocolate bar.

    1. you still have to check the label. their 70% has soy l., while their 85% does not. That’s all I’ve been privy to as far as their dark chocolate.

    2. I understand the concept of carcinogens in smoked foods and I have yet to see any specific data on the topic.

      With that said my current mind set is the process of smoking foods is okay, perhaps even beneficial (hormesis).

  9. For you chocoholics avoiding all soy, reread the labels on your Dagoba chocolate products. As I was buying a gluten-free chocolate-covered goodie at the farmer’s market, the vender told me he needed to find a new source of chocolate, because they changed their ingredients and now include soy lecithin.

  10. does that mean that maple syrup is ok? I’ve been asking about it in the comments the past few weeks.

    1. Maple syrup has a favorable glucose/fructose ratio (i.e. more glucose than fructose), better than honey and much better than agave. It’s still sugar, though, so moderation is key.

      1. After I ate the pancakes, I learned: that my mother-in-law ran low on maple syrup…so she added HFCS to the bit of Maple syrup…Uggghhhhhhh! It’s hard to have friends and potlucks at the same time. I don’t trust Mum anymore…and she knows it. But she’s 94 and doesn’t care what she eats now. And doesn’t want to learn. But she does sprout!

    2. First of all, is it real maply syrup and not HFCS with maple flavoring? Even if it’s real, it’s not primal. Added sugar never is (though it could be a sensible indulgence if you use it in moderation).

    3. My acupuncturist says Grade B Maple Syrup is better than Grade A. Grade B is from the first tapping and contains more minerals than Grade A.

      1. Your acupuncturist is wrong, Tapping maples is tapping. The sap of the sugar maple rises, as do all trees, in early spring/late winter. That is when you tap the trees. There is no difference. Grades are made by density and translucency, not mineral content. The sap is boiled to Grade A light Amber, then Amber then Dark Amber. Then It’s boiled longer and then you get grade B and even longer to get Grade C.

        That’s it.

    4. Maple syrup and molasses are my go to sweeteners. I just add a little bit to my yogurt or drinks for taste.

      You might want to check out Mark’s definitive guide to sugar: It has lots of good information.

      Maple syrup has some good minerals in it, so you don’t need to feel it’s a complete indulgence. Just be careful not to overdo it.

      1. Mix/drizzle maple syrup or molasses with some butter, mix thoroughly with a fork or spoon…hmmmm. Adjust ratio to taste.

  11. what about V8 juice? i searched but could only find vague references to it..has it been covered?

    1. V8 is a highly processed sugary drink, and IMO is not on the Primal list.

    2. V8 can be found here:

      It is the juice of the vegetables, sans the fiber and crunchy goodness that them taste so yummy. 600 mg of salt is a lot. It’s about a half a teaspoon, in less than 12 ounces of fluid. And it’s mostly sugar (14 gms) compared to the listings for the whole vegetable (tomato for instance, has 7 mg of sodium and 6 carbs in 147 gm tomato).

      My rule is that if it’s made by a company and processed, it’s generally not good for you.

    3. It’s a GMO product. Stay away from that one, juice your own or vitamix your veggies and get ALL the nutrients.

  12. Mmm, chicken skin. I had a longtime aversion to it, because my mom always fed us a “healthy” CW diet and we rarely had chicken with the skin on. I used to think it was greasy and it made my stomach turn, but now I’m learning to like it.

  13. I just checked, nice to see that my favorite chocolate,Green and Black’s 85% dark, has no lecithin.

      1. Thats a shame, it must be a different recipe in AU because mine definitely has Soy Lecithin in it :-[

  14. I was in the hospital the other night (I thought someone dosed me with acid.. I think maybe I just indulged too much in my own treats).. anyways blood and urine tests were done, I was hooked up to an IV for a while, and though I didn’t ask for specifics, apparently my test results show nothing to worry about. Stunning based on what I’ve been through.
    I could hear the medical staff in the next room talking and picked out a few phrases. I can’t be sure they were talking about me but they said the following. “He has perfect abs”, “He doesn’t eat a lot of carbs”, something about fluid movement, and “That boy is fine.”
    I’ve eaten like 30000 pills. Take that Big Pharma.

      1. This comment made it worth reading them all. I’m still laughing.

  15. Chicharrón(“Pork Rind”, aka Puerto Rican Corn Flakes): Food of the Gods!!!

    1. couldn’t agree more! my sustenance on road trips is the beloved chicharrones! I kind of wish my family would embrace them too, but kind of glad to have them to myself!

      1. Pernil and Chicharrones are my favorite! I love the crispy pernil skin!

    2. I too used to love pork rinds, but thinking the pre-made kind (ie: Lowry’s, “Baken-ettes”) AREN’T primal? Aren’t they fried in vegetable/seed oil?

      1. I used to love the pre-made kind as a kid. However, ours aren’t only fried in vegetable oil, they also contain every other kind of crap like dextrose and a bazillion preservatives.

    3. I was in Mexico a few years ago and at a village party they had chicharones. I distinctly remember being offered a piece by a toddler who had been mouthing it for most of the party. It made chicharones even less desirable than they already are 😉

  16. Alfalfa sprouts??? What about them? I’ve been on an alfalfa sprout kick lately–I grow my own.

    1. they come from a flowering plant in the pea family. Peas are legumes, not primal. But I’m still wondering too.

  17. Okay, in the category of thickeners I am curious about xanthan gum. I have read that it’s derived from the fungus that grows on (likely GMO) corn in lab conditions. That was enough to get me to toss the little baggie I got from the CoOp bulk section, but not enough to get me to toss my huge bottle of Cholula (eggs without hot sauce only happens when eating out!)

    Also, I’ve been researching starchy thickeners and from what I’ve found I’m sticking to Arrowroot powder (for the rare birthday almond flour cake and whatnot). Like tapioca powder, it is simply dried, ground root. I’ve read that it does at least have a modicum of nutrients though, edging it up a notch over tapioca in my book. Is it true?

    1. Xanthan gum is a bacterial product. Glucose from corn is usually involved in the process, but some manufacturers do not use corn. The final product should not contain any corn product. From what I’ve read, most people with corn allergies don’t have reactions to xanthan gum. I never worried about it since the amount I would ingest in any given year, even before going primal, is next to nothing.

  18. There is pork skin available at my local grocery store. But I have no idea how to cook it. I tried frying it chicharron-style (I thought it would be crispy), but ended up giving it to the dog to play with. I could have tiled a roof with the result.

    1. I believe it is cooked off in a slow oven, a remnant of rending lard.

    2. If you want commercial-style pork rinds, It’s a slow process that involves boiling the skin until tender, then drying it out, and then deep frying it. You can read about the process at You can speed up the process with a pressure cooker and a food dehydrator.

      If you don’t want to go through all that mess, just cut the skins and lay them out on a sheet for and bake for about 3 hours at 250 degrees F. Let cool, and then fry until they puff. They will be a little tougher, but I like that a bit more personally.

      If you want the more traditional Mexican style, see . I usually do this with pork belly.

  19. I love animal skin, my faovorite thing about getting chicken is getting that skin crispy. Fish skin is good to..

  20. I hadn’t heard of Quorn until today.

    Honestly, I thought it was a primal substitute for corn!

    Someone figured out how to make corn out of quinoa? What?

  21. I’m getting sick of Quorn, 2 hours after eating, I get so nauseous that every thing comes out, every thing. It stops when my stomach is empty. And it hurts a lot, a lot more then when I’ve to throw up because having the flu for example. I will never never eat it once again!

    1. Ignoring the source of quorn for a few minutes (hard ask for some I know…), like most foods (5% or so of Americans are supposedly allergic to turkey) there is often a small percentage of the population that are allergic to a specific food type Maybe you are allergic to mold 🙂

      To be fair quorn is very popular in europe and is a common ingredient at our office restaurant for at least one of the meal options. Never heared of anyone having a problem.

      1. Most of the Quorn products contain wheat. I have used the roast-style for several years which doesn’t; maybe 3 years ago they changed the formula and added gluten. I sent a nastygram to England; lots of other people must have, too, b/c it was reformulated AGAIN w/o the gluten.
        Once the loaf in my freezer from my last vegetarian go-round is gone I won’t be buying any more–bring on the chicken!!!

  22. Neat post, fun to read, well-written, helpful, funny…all good stuff. I’ve been loving salmon skin a long time now, and thinking of all those years I took it off. Some primal-ish food company should fry or bake or otherwise dry and slightly season (or not) salmon skins, make ’em into crispy-chewy chips, and not wreck ’em with weirdo ingredients.

    1. Somebody does up here in Alaska – product called “Yummie Chummies”, made for dogs out of the leftovers of a fish long considered by the locals to be fit only for dogs, the “dog” or “Chum” salmon, now renamed the “Keta Salmon” to sell to human pieholes.

  23. “Quorn” WTF??? Sounds…er…no thanks. Silly vegetarians…what kind of “fake meat” will they come out with next??? The thing that grosses me out is seitan…PURE WHEAT GLUTEN in the shape of meat…GROSS!!!

    Maple syrup is fine in moderation as long as it is the REAL stuff! I got mine from a shop in New Hampshire where their family has been making it for over a hundred years. Our neighbor even tried to tap our maple trees to make some. Totally Primal on your Primal pancakes with some fresh berries! MMMMMMmmmmmm..

    Oh…and chicken skin is amaaaazing!!

    1. Seitan, or ‘vital wheat gluten’ is, for me, literally a recipe for serious gastrointestinal distress!

      1. Once I ate seitan “scallops” and they sat like a ball of lead in my stomach. Never again!

  24. who the h*ll wouldn’t eat animal skin, especially on a primal diet??? that was just a jaw dropping. mind numbing thing to read. it amazes me how much lack of common people have with regard to food. it’s our culture. nowhere else in the world are people so alienated from the things they eat as Americans are. thank you capitalism, for whelping generations of food zombies. ugh.

    1. hey-food zombie here-BUT since finding Mark a few weeks ago, the blood is coming back!! I was raised alll wrong but with well-meaning parents. NOW, I am able to introduce my husband and my 16- and 18-year-old kids to REAL life-sustaing food! Mark, you are invaluable! Thank you for all you do! I hope to be diabetes-free in the near future. Keeping my less-zombie-than-last-week fingers crossed!

  25. Wait–I just bought non-GMO soy lecithin to supplement choline sinc I eat a 70%-80% fat diet. I eat lots of egg yolks, but I worried that wasnt enough. How many egg yolks per week do I need to get enough choline to balance all the fat I’m eating?

  26. I’m making grilled salmon tonight…gonna try the skin this time! 🙂

  27. i keep reading about how dark chicken meat and chicken skin are very high in PUFA’s, so not to indulge too much. sigh. i try not to have it more than every two weeks, but that makes me sad. when i do eat it, i feel guilty, like i’m harming myself! any thoughts?

    1. I have also been concerned about omega 6 fatty acids in chicken, chicken fat, and chicken skin. As a result, I stopped saving using chicken fat to use for other purposes, but I didn’t quit eating chicken or chicken skin yet. Like you, eating chicken skin makes me feel a little guilty. I think the solution is plenty of fatty fish and omega-3 supplementation to compensate.

  28. Wow, I had no idea that agave nectar was so bad. It’s been touted so highly in so many places that I took it to be a good replacement for sugar.

    Also, I want to say that Coconut Aminos are a great substitute for soy sauce and I swear by them. Also, it’s good to know that tapioca isn’t as bad as I feared.

    1. “Coconut Aminos with Sushi… Not primal!”

      I ask…why not? Please add the facts to your statement. I really don’t know. And I imagine there are others who don’t know, either.

  29. Salmon skin? What do you do with the fish scales? Eat those too? Hubby and I recently had blackened cajun salmon over the weekend and the recipsaid to remove skin. I found fish scales still sticking to me the following morning, even after I had washed my hands and arms. No wonder fish scales are used in lip stick!

    1. Once you scrape off the scales (or have someone do it for you), fish skin is smooth and kind of buttery.

      I grilled up some haddock yesterday. Of course, I was the only one in the family to eat the skin. No scales present!

  30. Why include a jab at “mouthfeel” in an otherwise well-reasoned post? You know exactly what mouthfeel is. It is a compound word, so I won’t bother defining it here… but seriously… it is a cornerstone of understanding the process food goes through when going through humans and why&how we respond differently to different foods. It ells you if a fruit or vegetable or meat has gone bad… it tells you if it was cooked by a savant or a fool. &so on.

    Love the work, keep it up- I’ll just keepkeeping you honest.

  31. you know I’ve not heard of Quorn until this article … seriously? not primal? I have been living on bacon and mushrooms since I started eating primal, there’s no reason I can’t have quorn with meat, is there?? as soon as you said fungus and protein I was interested. 😀

    1. It’s very expensive for the protein you get–I only bought it when it was on special

  32. Be careful of tapioca flour if you’re latex allergic. There are cases of documented cross-reactivity, some pretty serious. I am latex allergic, and back in the day when I was mixing my own GF flour mixes, some puffed out of the bag and I inhaled it. I sneezed for three hours and broke out in a rash. Can’t be good for my poor celiac gut. Haven’t used it since, and I avoid it when it’s in ingredient labels.

    1. Yup, tapioca can also exhibit gluten cross-reactivity traits. I have far worse symptoms consuming something with tapioca than wheat. Could never figure out why the GF sub foods never agreed with me!

      1. Will have to remember this; will start out w/ tapioca in small amounts. You never know what’s gonna getcha; found out the hard way that I am much more allergic to millet than to wheat.

  33. i have a question, and please don’t make fun of me for it. i was vegetarian; i believed the philosophy for 15 years till i got very sick. then i had my first organic beef burger, and by the second burger, i was almost shaking with energy.

    i want to follow a more primal diet. but i can’t get anything more down my gullet, but white chicken (which i can finally prepare w/o getting sick) or turkey meat, grass fed ground beef, and an occasional wild caught salmon. because i have a severe allergy to eggs and dairy, my protein choices are limited to meat. my mind is willing to eat bones, skin, cartilage, organs, but i get nauseous when i try to prepare it. i’ve tried and tried to reframe my attitude about seeing animal flesh, but i just can’t stomach it. does anyone have any recommendations on how to get the nutrition i know i need, but not have to make it myself? i’m not being lazy; i’m truly having a hard time with this.

    1. Could you try some crockpot recipes? At our grocery store you can buy free-range, all-natural chicken breasts in a bag. Buying them this way, you could just throw the chicken breasts in a crockpot with veggies and let it cook. You’d barely have to handle it at all. I like to throw a couple chicken breasts in a crockpot with a can or two of Rotel and let it cook for about 6 hours on high. Once you stir it, the chicken will shred and you can serve it over salad with some guacamole. No cutting and minimal handling of the meat. I didn’t eat meat for a long time either and still have moments where handling it sort of turns my stomach. The crockpot allows me to make dishes without messing with the meat much. One of the hosts of the Everyday Paleo Podcast is coming out with a Crockpot Paleo cookbook later this year.

    2. Organs gross me out a little too, so don’t worry, no making fun here! 🙂

      You can ask the farmer or the store to prepare the meat for you, so that it contains only flesh but no bones or skin. Stew meat is ready-to-cook chunks of stuff. Can you handle boneless steak?

      Try canned tuna, where it’s already prepared for you. You can also buy boneless canned salmon.

      The preparation will make the meat more expensive, but it will be easier for you.

    3. First, try googling protein and pregnancy – lots of first-trimester ladies have raw meat aversions, so there should be tips on overcoming them there. Also I know that the woman who runs the GAPS Guide website was in a similar boat but NEEDED to eat the bones/skin/cartiledge for her gut-healing protocol. She has found that as her body adapts to a simple, nutritious diet, it is more willing to accept what her brain wants to give it (as long as her brain lets her body lead, she’s fine).
      Ruminant liver doesn’t look like flesh (because it’s not) and can be frozen for 2 weeks then hacked into little chunks and swallowed like pills. Your butcher can prep heart for you, and it also has no muscle fibre (I chop it finely for chili) instead of beans. Scallops and crabmeat don’t have a meaty texture or appearance. And I hear that bacon is the gateway meat – dump the whole package into a baking tray and put it in the oven. When it comes out it’s food, not meat.
      Would hiding meat work? So pureed in soup, f.ex? Is it the eating or the preparing? Could you make bone broth? Once it’s made and filtered it doesn’t seem animal-related at all. Purchased gelatine can also be snuck in here or there.

      1. Flashback—had that SERIOUS raw meat aversion during first pregnancy. Second one was better but still a problem.

    4. I’ve always had a REALLY hard time with raw meat as well. . . but, I’ve found the more I read about the health benefits, the more I pay attention to the kind of meat (grassfed, organic), the easier it is for me to stomach the preparation. It’s a reprogramming of your brain! Some foods I can’t (or won’t) reprogram for, like the Medifast diet I once upon a time tried and got very sick from (it’s all soy!). Start with simple things. . . I used to cook chicken breasts only from the frozen state, now I can dress a bird (heck, I can kill it, pluck it, and cook it!). You can help speed up the daily process by pattying up your ground meats (or making meatballs, sausage, etc. . .) all at once when you do your shopping then freeze in ready to use sizes. You can ask your butcher to grind up organ meats and mix it with your ground beef. Make bone broth. . . put the good quality bones into your crock pot, cover with water, add a few veggies and garlic if you like and allow to simmer for at least 24 hours. Once the bones are soft, crush them to get the marrow out, cook a few more hours, strain. Now you have a clear broth that’s pretty easy to stomach. Also, slow cooker meals might be a good way for you to start. . . you can make a roast from the frozen state (frozen was always easier for me than fresh). Good luck!

    5. Bone broth is the best way to get some incredible nutrients into you. Have a friend or family member make you a couple of big batches a month and drink it as it is, or as a base for soups and sauces. It freezes well in small portions.

      I can understand how you feel. Although I’ve never been a vegetarian, I cannot somach organ meats, chew on bones etc. I come from a culture where skin is never consumed, so even that was an aqcuired taste for me, but now I love it as long as it’s crispy!

    6. I’ve read about other vegetarian & vegan people who had the same problem. I’m not a nutritionist nor psychologist, but I’d suspect that after so many years of programming yourself to abhor meat…it’s difficult to deprogram. I would suggest you that really go for the gusto: visit a farm and start from the beginning…learn to kill and dress-out your own food. Do this several times. It’s okay if you puke. But don’t stop until you can eat that meat. I used to have a problem just looking at a dead animal carcass. Then I moved to a farm, and couldn’t eat my own dead chickens. Now I can kill and process (skin, degut) my own animal (chicken, sheep, goat, etc). I’m a 65 yr old woman.

  34. I’d be interested in your thoughts on maple syrup. You touched on it, but didn’t really dive in. I think that would be really interesting.

  35. I’m not a hipster, err… I don’t know, maybe I am, because I don’t really know exactly what that entails… Anyway, we switched to Coconut Aminos because its gluten-free and soy-free, not because its trendy. We loved tamari sauce and teriyaki but when we simultaneously found out our kids are sensitive to soy AND learned about primal eating, we searched for an alternative. We found coconut aminos on the shelf at a local specialty store but had never heard of it before. It was tasty and worked pretty well as a replacement flavoring in our favorite dishes. A few months later we started seeing paleo/primal articles pop up about it.

  36. I’m a bit confused though. Why is it that tequila is a Primal-approved vice (in moderation, obviously); however, agave nector–which is derived from agave like tequila–is not primal?

    1. “Primal” diets not pursued as a re-enactment society. Primal diets are pursued for the goal of promoting health.

      The healthfulness of tequila vs. agave comes down to fructose content. Neither is primal, but tequila contains a tiny fraction of the fructose contained in agave. Tequila, therefore, arguably falls in the category of “sensible vice”.

      1. Thanks to this blog I found out just how bad Agave really is. I knew it wasn’t good…but didn’t realize how bad.

        I have a concern when we say Agave isn’t primal. Wouldn’t the Mexican/Indian/S. American primal-people have eaten Agave? Doesn’t mean it was good for them…but I suspect that they ate it. Surely not all primitive foods were good for those who ate? Correct me please if I’m wrong.

    2. My guess it has to do with fermentation. Sugar typical gets consumed by the yeast which poops out alcohol and carbon dioxide.

  37. broccoli sprouts are on my “do NOT eat” list, as the goitrogens are said to be higher in them than in their big brothers.

  38. I’d been wondering about soy lecithin – I already avoid soy generally (in part because of the estrogenicity), but I’d noticed that soy lecithin was in a lot of things like dark chocolate. Nice to know that my concerns were well-founded, although it also means I’m going to need to read labels even more carefully.

    1. Most conventional tea bags have soy licithin too. I now buy tea at the natural food store.

  39. Sad about agave nectar, but happy to be informed! Which is the best sugar substance to lightly add to my morning macchiato?

    1. I agree with Daniel. Stevia was a bit of an acquired taste for me. I hated it at first, but it has definitely grown on me and my primary tea sweetener. Be careful not to go overboard with the xylitol as some people are sensitive to it. I chew only xylitol gum and use xylitol toothpaste for my kids, but when I added some to my morning shake, it gave me a stomach ache.
      Another alternative is straight Glucose. It isn’t as sweet as table sugar or fructose, but MUCH better for you.

    2. I’d try coconut sugar! It’s unrefined, low on the glycemic index, and doesn’t have too many carbs (4g per tsp.) I find that less than a teaspoon of this light, maple-like sugar really tops off my coffee well.

      1. What do you mean by “not too many carbs”? Refined white sugar also has 4g of carb per tsp.

        1. Natures Forest (pricey but BPA-free cans) or Golden Star which I store in a glass jar..i love it in coffee, smoothies, soups, sauces..

      1. I use coconut oil in my coffee, 1 TBL per cup which counteracts some of the bad part stuff in coffee. If I wanted my coffee or tea sweet, I’d use Coconut Nectar, or Maple Syrup, or Stevia. My husband puts butter in his coffee, or we also use raw heavy cream.

  40. I also had not even heard of Quorn until this post. Sound disgusting. I’m actually hesitant to invite liquid/coconut aminos to the condiment party in my fridge. The seesawing opinions on whether it causes MSG-like effects on the body scare me a little bit. Any way some light could be shed on that?

  41. The number 1 thing I loved about eating the Mark’s Daily Apple way from Primal Blueprint is no longer worrying about taking the skin off chicken. I knew when that was sanctioned, I had no excuses for turning back.

  42. When the salmon are running thickest, the bears ONLY eat the fattiest parts of the fish — brains, roe, and skin!

    The rest of the fish (meat) gets tossed aside for other critters.

    If the bears know to do it, then so should you.

  43. I eat skin unapologetically – along with the gristle and part of the bones. If I see someone take off chicken and salmon skin, I tell them to send it my way.

    1. Recently I fed a friend a bunch of sardines and she refused to eat the spines.. that was fine with me. I love eating spines. : )

      1. By far Animanarchy, you are one of the first people I’ve read or known about that will do all this crazy stuff. Now I know that handfishing for me is a favorite pastime but eating raw snails and collecting wild ants. It gets me thinking why haven’t I thought of this stuff to do? Next time camping, I’m getting me some ants and grub!

        1. I think many can relate to this:
          Tool – Reflection
          I have come curiously close to the end, down
          Beneath my self-indulgent pitiful hole,
          Defeated, I concede and
          Move closer
          I may find comfort here
          I may find peace within the emptiness
          How pitiful

          It’s calling me…

          And in my darkest moment, fetal and weeping
          The moon tells me a secret – my confidant
          As full and bright as I am
          This light is not my own and
          A million light reflections pass over me

          Its source is bright and endless
          She resuscitates the hopeless
          Without her, we are lifeless satellites drifting

          And as I pull my head out I am without one doubt
          Don’t wanna be down here soothing my narcissism.
          I must crucify the ego before it’s far too late
          I pray the light lifts me out
          Before I pine away.

          So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late
          To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical,
          And you will come to find that we are all one mind
          Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable.
          Just let the light touch you
          And let the words spill through
          And let them pass right through
          Bringing out our hope and reason …
          before we pine away.

  44. All excellent points, especially about animal skin: “As long as the animal in question was healthy and fed a good diet”. That animal comes from the wild in pristine locations, your own land (assuming it s not contaminated)and your local chemical-free sustainable farmer. Finding that last one can be tricky and even fraught with deception, but you can know exactly how to source your food as cleanly as possible here:

    You want to avoid the following allowable “certified organic” practices:
    – The use of irrigation water from aqueducts which are directly contaminated by neighboring conventional farms.
    – The use of land which has been intensively chemically farmed for many decades.
    – A period of only three years to build up the intensively chemically-treated and depleted soil in order to be qualified as an organic farm.
    – Washing produce with chlorinated water, letting it absorb this water, and bagging it.

  45. I’ve sincerely tried Paleo for 3 months- haven’t lost an ounce, and have constant heartburn from bacon and other fatty (pasture raised) meats. Body pains are increasing; not feeling well. Why doesn’t it work for me?

    1. Have you been to the forum part of MDA? Come and tell us in detail what you are eating and more about yourself. We can probably help you.

    2. Hi Linda, Harr is right, we need more information to give good advice. Still the first things that come to my mind are: eat plenty of vegetables with the meat and heat the fat carefully (if you like your meat crispy, maybe use leaner cuts and add fat afterwards). Furthermore, maybe try intermittent fasting as a substitute for eating high-fat; both methods train your fat metabolism. Start slowly with IF. Do you eat offal?

  46. Duck skin off of confit—remove and saute—crispiest, best “bacon” you’ll ever eat.

  47. I was so thankful when I realized that it was “ok” to eat animal skin again. My SAD approach for so many years made me feel incredibly guilty for eating chicken skin and salmon skin, which I’ve always loved. Now I relish it – not that I eat it super frequently. But when I cook chicken these days, I do my best to get a nicy crispy crust on the skin and then I chow down. Nom nom nom.

  48. Thanks, Mark. It was a very timely message. I’m a newbie to the primal diet, and was wondering if I should sprout my mung beans, or get rid of them.
    I’m not going to bother to sprout them…
    Loving your site, by the way!

  49. Soy is in everything even gum. A lot of people are allergic to soy and don’t know it, I think it is because we are so saturated with it. Soy is a rotation crop for corn, so they had to figure out what to do with it and it is cheap. Soy has been linked to Autisum.

  50. I had to do a double-take when I saw Quorn on this list. I’m surprised anyone wonder if it’s Primal-friendly, lol.

    I admit, though, I like it even though it’s totally high-protein junk! Different versions of it have different ingredients; the “tenders” have least offensive list of ingredients and aren’t made with gluten. My husband doesn’t eat land mammals, so I do keep it in the freezer and use it for chili once in awhile.

    I know, I know… ridiculous. 🙂

  51. “nor feed your baby dark chocolate”

    Err what? Why? My 2yo has been eating 80% since she was 1 year or so… Should I be concerned?

    Also, isn’t chicken skin particularly high in Omega-6?

    1. I started drinking Coke when I was, I think, 5 and have been a caffiend since. In high school I moved on to energy drinks and drank them just about every day.
      I also had an experience with red whine around the age of 5 (I think it gave me a strength boost – I was at a wedding reception at a farm and lifted one end of a plow with ease while two older kids stood there in awe) and accidentally got high off cough syrup as a kid a few times (I recently discovered this through self reflection).
      I crave all the above, though I don’t drink much.
      Whenever I was sick with a cough as a kid even if my throat didn’t hurt I always wanted cough syrup and I’d ask my mom for it. I loved drinking it from the spoon even though it tasted gross, and then I’d feel better. I thought it was because I wasn’t coughing and the syrup just took away cold symptoms. Dextromethorphan is a semi-synthetic opiate with a wide range of pleasurable effects. No wonder I loved taking medecine so much when I was younger, like the banana-flavoured antiobiotics I slurped down regularly through an alligator spoon for my constant ear infections until I had tubes in my ears. I also had plenty of sugar as a kid. Cereal, pancakes, fruit roll-ups (“made with real fruit!”), “fruit snacks”.. that was a huge part of my diet.

  52. Mark,

    How about Luo Han juice used as a natural sweetener? I’m thinking it’s like stevia and therefore primal, but is it really

  53. Quorn ‘…comes from a mold organism (Fusarium venenatum) that was discovered in soil by scientists in the 1960s. This organism is then multiplied en masse in steel containers with some added sugar and nutrients and then contrived into foods such as burgers, sausages and meat.’ – Dr John Briffa

    Not a natural food just because it is manufactured from mold in dirt.

    1. Thanks for the input Dr John. I’ve never heard of this Quom-stuff til now. It’s disgusting! Worse, I must have eaten it and didn’t know it (like so many foods). And contains sugar? All I can think of now is moldy meat burgers, moldy sausages, and probably moldy spaghetti and ravioli. Humans can be really sick in the head sometimes.

  54. I love chicken skin…. its almost the whole point of roasting chicken… duh.

  55. Good write up, but doesn’t clarify sprouts enough for me. A later comment mentions “goitrogens”. Real? Concerned?

    Animarchy, as a bug eater, I recommend you check out bee larvae. Tasty, numerous, big and more than one reference discusses how the larvae were an early intended food source for people.

    thanks for the conversation folks.

    1. Thanks, you just gave me an idea… Buying bugs at pet stores.

  56. The study about mitochondrial function in frozen-thawed spermatozoa is about ram, not rat, sperm.

    Thanks for the heads up about soy lecithin. I only eat it in chocolate, and assumed it was such a small amount as to not bother me, but it’s worth eliminating and testing.

  57. Just found this website on chocolate ingredients, sort by cacao content and start at 100%. Looks like Green & Blacks is soy lecithin free as well as several others. Just not sure how available they all are but worth checking out.

  58. I used to eat quorn but I started getting sick – like really sick when I ate it. In my research I found that it’s not just some “fungus” found growing under a tree in Ireland or whatever – but it’s a highly processed fungus they made in a vat – and then they add a bunch of sugar and other stuff to it to make it taste good – it’s definitely not primal! Yeah, anyway, I like sprouts on my salad… but lately, i’ve just been eating pears on my salad – way tastier!!

  59. *btw-OLD email address 🙂
    I always appreciate these posts but I really don’t GET why PRIMAL is so hard for everyone? I am probably…gosh 75% primal, i’d guess, but I follow a few simple rules i’ve picked up from various places:

    1. If it doesn’t have a mother or it doesn’t come from the ground-it’s not going in my mouth. 😉

    Narrow that further-
    2. I don’t eat grains, legumes, or dairy.

    3. Whole foods only.

    I don’t get much more specific except to eat organic, grass fed, and free roaming as much as possible.

    WHOLE FOODS. It’s not that hard.

    1. Surely you just forgot to mention number

      4. Healthy fats.

      I’m with you on numbers 1, 2, and 3…it’s not that hard to eat right. But it is hard to find the good foods. Fortunately, I can raise all my own food…chickens, sheep, goats, veggies and very little fructose (fruit). I adore healthy butter, and the good salts. I’m eating a tablespoon of butter right now…yummmy

      I do miss some old favorites: spaghetti, mac and cheese, and burgers. So I splurge (fall off the wagon) once in a great while. Then back on the good stuff, feeling no guilt.

  60. Many people have hassled me over my love of chicken and salmon skin…it’s one of the best parts! Thank you for the vindication. ; )

  61. Question about skin: if it’s not organic skin, is it still a good idea to eat it?

    I was under the impression that in non-organically raised meat, that the skin has the highest concentration of toxins?

    I’ve been wanting to eat pork rinds, etc but havent found any “organic” ones and am scared off by te possible toxins.

    Please advise

    Ps: salmon skin, a little crispy on the outside, with that creamy omega-3 rich fat on the inside: pure heaven.

    1. My understanding is that the toxins do tend to concentrate in the skin, so this yet another reason to eat organic chicken and wild salmon. I love pork rinds too, and would be curious to know if organic ones are available as an indulgence once in awhile.

  62. Fairly new to the Primal diet but learning a ton. Agave nectar as noted in this blog is a “no-no”. What are the three most “primal accepted” types of sugar? One for say coffee or tea, one for sprinkling on fruit and perhaps one for baking?

    1. Xylitol is not bad for baking, but baking usually involves some kind of flour, so you’re treading a treacherous path no matter how you slice it. As an occasional treat, okay, but daily primal muffins are a bad idea and a crutch.

      Honey and real maple syrup are okay in moderation. I know some people that put honey in their coffee.

      You don’t need to sprinkle sugar on fruit. Especially once you have cut down on the amount of sugar you consume, you’ll be surprised that even vegetables taste kind of sweet.

      Mark’s done at least one post entirely on sweeteners, so you could look that up for more on the biochemistry.

  63. Doesn’t Quorn products contain wheat flour as a binder and wheat gluten?
    I used to sometimes eat Quorn but not now as it has gluten in it according to the list of ingredients here in the UK. Just thought I’d mention it, cos I don’t eat wheat flour or gluten, and I’m trying not to ingest gluten in any shape, form or way.

  64. I, like a few others, am having a hard time understanding why some people find it so difficult to determine what they should/should not eat. Granted, when it comes to certain whole foods I do understand some of the confusion–but I don’t understand why so many people are buying/eating so much packaged and processed food. I guess I’m just so spoiled living down here where the only things I buy in packages in the supermarket are cleaning products and toilet paper.

    I also don’t know if the meat I eat is organic or grass fed or whatever but it doesn’t matter to me because it is what is available from the butcher. I only buy locally raised chicken and chicken eggs, alpaca from the nearby Andes, beef that is raised in the central and southern regions of Chile, and fish/seafood that I either catch myself or buy from the sea port.

    Yes, I do eat cheese and won’t give it up for anyone or anything. I love it and I eat it almost every day with no adverse affects. I did try a 30 day “no cheese” test and felt no different physically during or after I reintroduced it, so it isn’t causing me any problems. I feel deprived without it and my life is not about deprivation.

    I also don’t want to have to “learn” to like something. If it tastes like shit then it tastes like shit. Period. I don’t care how good it is for me. I won’t take supplements because I know I can get all my vita-nutrients from the food I eat.

    I guess I can’t sit around getting my knickers in a twist about every little thing. Life is too short–even if you do live to be a 100+ to spend so much time worrying and tying yourself in knots about every little thing. If you feel good and are eating as well as you can–yes, finance and likes/dislikes definitely play a role–then you are probably fine. So what? One thing you really enjoy, like crispy chicken skin, is not from an organic source and you eat it a few times a month–seriously–you’re going to worry about that? You probably get more toxins from the air around you than the small amount you might pick up from non-organic chicken skin every once in a while. The worrying and sitting on your ass in front of the computer researching everything until your brain is running in circles when you could have been outside taking a walk does more damage.

    Oh, when I say “you” I don’t mean anyone in particular, just a general word meaning “anyone who is having these kinds of concerns.”

    1. You just spoke volumes. And by “you”–I meant you, you wise woman!

  65. Without your vetting of foods, I would be somewhat lost.. I began the ‘Primal’ diet 3 months ago, so to have an invaluable resource as this site and your knowledge is so helpful…Thank you for the diligent research!

  66. Very interesting to read on the USA vs. UK websites the ingredients in the same Quorn products. The UK items have fewer ingredients. But nothing I’d ever eat.

  67. Thank you for the post on Agave. People keep saying it’s a healthy sugar substitute, when it’s actually as good as high fructose corn syrup or some other extracted-sugar-syrup. Now I have it confirmed. 🙂

  68. I have recently joined in on primal eating and have a couple of questions to ask. With all of the talk about fats, I haven’t notice you talk about organic coconut oil, just the greatness of virgin olive oil… don’t you think it is equally as good or better?
    My daughter read parts of a book a Dr. wrote on wheat and how it has changed since the 1940’s and the rise of celiac disease. He himself has that and said that when he made bread from farmers that raised their wheat as it was anciently without modifing it to have more gluten, it didn’t effect him at all. What is your thoughts about making your own bread using ancient grains? I order all my burgers protein style when I eat fast food, but every once in a while a hot, toasted piece of bread covered in butter or organic coconut oil sounds pretty good!
    Any suggestions for acid reflux/hiatal hernia conditions?
    Thanks for all posts and help with my questions!

    1. I make bread for my family, I personaly dont eat it, but I cant control everything they eat and want especially with 2 small boys and wife that is still on the fence about primal. So I bake. I do sourdough bread, fermented for 3 days. The difference is that I use Kefir for the starter, and I ferment the loaf for 3 days not just the starter. By day 3 most of the bad stuff is preaty much gone. Its a great bread and more like a primal early ansestor to the quick rise 1 hour loafs of today. Even a 16 hour rise isnt enough. Using Kefir is great as I dont have to care for the bread starter. One tip is to put the doug into a bowl and brush with coconut oil to keep stuff from drying. I also grease the pan wit duck fat when I bake!
      Fermented stuff is great for reflux, so I have read. I eat it every day. I used to have reflux only when eating comercial cream, which sux but thats my body telling me to not eat it so I listen, you will probably find what your cause is by experimentation. I have no issues with Kefir and that is the only dairy besides butter that I have.

      1. Michal,
        Question re: Sourdough
        Would you please clarify your sourdough recipe?……we are making good clean sourdough and not having a lot of success with raising a nice loaf…….any assistance would be appreciated……I make my own Kefir from Raw Goasts Milk daily and would really like to make great Sourdough as we have eliminated so much and that includes all grains – this would be wonderful to have for those that miss bread!
        Thanks, Esther

      2. I sorta do the same stuff but I use a wild starter, do you do the same? I ferment the “dough” for 2 days then make the actual dough. Bake the bread in a dutch oven then it is really good. I use a mixture of almond meal and coconut flour and I only make it when I really need it.

    2. I had terrible reflux, medicated, for years — until twice-weekly yoga completely cured it. I don’t think it was the yoga per se, I think it was the improvement in my posture / strengthening of my back.

  69. Never heard of Quorn (and don’t know how to pronounce it) but unless it tastes like bacon I’ll stay clear of it (quorn bread and quorn chips doesn’t sound too bad though)…with you guys on the animal skin…That’s the best part of any animal!

    1. Pronouced Kworn.

      Never had it. Always thought the idea was vile and never healthy.

  70. We LOVE chicken skin at our house. In fact, my 2 1/2 year old gets really upset if I buy skinless, boneless chicken thighs for dinner because they are missing his favorite part! We had roast chicken last night, and I think he ate about half of the skin on there…and would have had more if we let him. We found out the hard way that his stomach really can’t handle any more than that 🙂 .

  71. Another nasty with Soy Lecithin is that it is extracted with hexane which is neurotoxic. Much of which would be evaporated off but there would still be trace amounts which is enough to make me want to avoid it. It was in my protein powder so I switched to a non emulsified plain one. I then found it was in my dogs food so switched brands. I had no idea how much it is used. Its even a supplement or used in supplements.

  72. Boy am I with you on the animal skin, Mark!

    All those years of boneless, skinless chicken breasts make me cringe now. What was I thinking?! Now I just roast everything and it is divine.

  73. Just FYI: quorn is nowhere near vegan…it is chock full of egg protein and whey. And yeasts and other not so nice stuff. My guess is the reason so many people have adverse reactions to it is that it is full of some of the top food allergens but folks dont realize that until it is too late.

  74. I’ve never heard of quorn before. I don’t get it. If you want to eat fake meat made of fungus then make a great big portabello mushroom and pretend it’s steak.

    I also find it odd how people struggle with the “is it primal” question so much. Animal skin? How could anyone ask such a silly question. This blog is full of posts about bones and organs so of course skin is primal!

    Basically eat green plants and animals. Avoid reproducing your former foods with fake primal substitutes (aka “candy cigarettes.”) Start there and everything will begin to make sense and soon enough it’ll become obvious that coconut aminos and quorn and agave syrup are unnecessary so why even worry about them.

  75. “…agave nectar marinated Quorn steaks, served with a soy lecithin-emulsification”

    Thanks for the idea! I will incorporate this into our next menu cycle for EliteEATS. I’m sure all my crossfitting clients will enjoy it 😉

  76. Dude- Thanksgiving I take my free range turkey, cover it in bacon (so the bacon fat leaches into the meat and makes it moist as hell), and roast it. I baste with a mix of white wine and my organic chicken/vegi/herb broth from scratch, and when that bird comes out of the oven, its a freaking free for all in my kitchen. It’s every man for himself- FYI-that bird is STARK NAKED in 45 seconds… Turkey skin with bacon-YUM!!!!!!

  77. Quorn
    “Now that I realize it’s a mock meat derived from a fungus, I feel betrayed.”

    Hey Folks,
    I just want to let you know that the word “Fungus” is the Asian word for mushroom, which is what a mushroom is. Mushrooms have an amazing amount of good things in them. O.K. so you prefer meat. But don’t write off mushroom, which are as “Primal” as meat.
    Case in point:
    Shiitakes Mushrooms (The bouquet of small long stem ones) :
    Cultivated for more than 1,000 years, these meaty, tender Chinese mushrooms have long served as both food and medicine. They owe their reputation as immunity boosters to a type of carbohydrate called beta-glucans. Unlike other immunity nutrients, beta-glucans don’t create or regulate cells within your immune system. Instead, they act as a kind of decoy, boosting your body’s immune response. When you eat shiitakes (or other beta-glucan-containing foods), your immune system reacts as if a harmful substance is present and kicks into high gear to protect you. In a 2004 animal study of swine influenza virus, the group given beta-glucans before infection developed a much milder case of the flu than those untreated. While the swine flu virus studied was not the same strain as the human H1N1 virus, the results show promise for beta-glucans’ ability to prevent and treat the flu.

    *Got this off the internet.

    1. Wellllllllll fungus is actually the Latin word for mushroom and where the Spanish word “hongo” comes from.

  78. Why aren’t you eating what Grok ate? What’s the point, if you eat all the stuff, that he never had?

  79. Too many Australians are living primal/paleo. It’s supposed to be an American phenomenon.

  80. I recently tried some crispy salmon skin after reading the post about it (yum!!) so I’ll be keeping it for myself now. (Sorry Mark) Thanks for pointing out how good it is. I probably wouldn’t be enjoying chicken and pork skin either if it weren’t for MDA!

  81. I replaced all my major carb sources (grains, potatoes) with home sprouted lentils when I seriously went low carb. It was great for the first couple of months, then I started to go downhill. By 4 months I was not in a good space. I was bloated, had terrible gut pain when I ate and knew I had a serious immune response going on. I went deep within myself in meditation and after some time came to the sense that I should give up the lentils. My medical practitioner advisor was a vegetarian and I knew he wouldn’t attribute any problems to lentils so I kept quiet about it. The acute gut pain stopped immediately. The immune response took about about six months to settle down though I’m still not right 2 years later though don’t know if that is due to the lentils or because something else isn’t right too. But I can’t recommend legumes, sprouted or otherwise.

  82. I’m fairly new to primal. Realizing I can eat the chicken skin. Heaven.

  83. Hey guys,

    I haven’t seen it in any posts, and it may be a dumb question – but along the same theme. Almond Milk? In the book it says no to that sort of milk that is flavored, but Blue Diamond has a brand of Almond Milk, and I was wondering if it fell in that same category as the “don’t” in the book? I’m stationed overseas, so I’m limited and this is a big question for me. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  84. I can’t read 4 pages of comments to see if anyone else mentioned this, but…can’t believe Mark does not address the soy lecithin issue in terms of the GMO factor. If soy lecithin does not bother you, it’s critical to buy a chocolate bar with the Non-GMO Verified label on it. There will be little or no primal food left if we support companies that allow that poison to further infiltrate our food chain. ‘Nuff said. Oh, and incidentally…you don’t want that crap in your primally pristine body.

  85. Dear Mark,

    One thing I noticed you didn’t address with Agave Nectar is that like HFCS, it has small dense LDL, the type that’s very bad for you and leads to arteriosclerosis and heart attacks. All around bad for you, definitely NOT PRIMAL.

    And I eat the discards from my family regarding the chicken skin…along with their grassfed beef fat, if I can get it before they feed it to the dogs.

    Thank you for your informative and fun-to-read newsletters! I love them!


  86. I try to buy Chocolate bars without soy lecithin in them. Some of the best bars are make with just cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. Theo is a popular brand that doesn’t use soy lecithin and there are a few more Organic and Fair Trade brands that do no use it as well.

  87. Love the comment and explanation on agave nectar. I bought it once, and won’t again. I much prefer the taste of maple syrup and honey to agave. And the price is similar!

    The world of food can become so confusing and seemingly complicated with the media and people like Doctor Oz promoting a different product one day, and the next telling us to stay away!

    Thanks for the info. This is my go to paleo/primal site!

  88. Thanks for the informative post Mark.

    I eat quorn sometimes (though I’m not strictly primal, just gluten / grain free apart from occasional rice) because I’m transitioning back to omnivore from vegetarian, and still don’t digest meat & eggs so well unless in small quantities (e.g. I can only eat 1 egg in a meal, any more and I feel sick – and I get good quality organic, free-range “woodland” eggs).

    I find quorn quite agreeable, but there are some who are allergic to it (and get quite sick from it). I’ve heard that quorn has been vilified in the USA by people with an interest in the soy industry (I heard some even wanted to ban it?), however, here in the UK it doesn’t seem to have that problem.

    I’m not saying everyone should eat quorn or that quorn is wholesome, just saying that I think it can be a transition food for those not used to real meat & eggs yet (and probably better than soy!).

  89. Thanks Mark, the Agave Nectar part was exceptionally enlightening. As a former vegan chef, I was using it in many dishes, and pouring over buckwheat pancakes for people, mixing it into Yerba Mate, etc. If they only knew…

  90. SPROUT QUESTION here….
    Can’t find anywhere on the net… info about sprouting seeds intended for the garden… A friend mentioned they might be coated with a pesticide or something, otherwise ‘sprouting’ seeds would not be sold as exactly that.
    Any answers from the Gang??

    1. Yes, be VERY careful about this. Seeds intended to be planted out in the garden are often coated in fungicides to prevent damping off (which can happen easily in damp, warm greenhouses), or with chemicals to make them unattractive to birds.

  91. I have to confess. I am willing to eat skin and fat but the chewy, grow in your mouth, consistency makes me gag. The same goes for gristle and cartilage.
    My son makes a wonderful Greek meatloaf used to make giros. It’s so finely ground that I don’t notice the addition of a few organ meats or saved bits of fats. The strong rosemary taste covers almost everything else. I eat it with lettuce, tomato and taziki (sp?) sauce and no pita bread. Yummy!

  92. Dear Mark,
    Thanks for the article, sorting out the grey areas is much appreciated.
    In your comments on sprouts you mentioned the conversion of sugar to vitamin C, acknowledged we cannot produce it and stated we need “Not a lot, but some.” In fact, our needs are consantly changing; therefore the proper dose does likewise. When under stress or fighting illness we require doses that might be considered “massive” under ordinary circumstances. For further documentation see “The Healing Factor” by Irwin Stone, which can be accessed at Another great site is

  93. I must say that my protein shakes are quite the “lucious mouthful” lol, so I can see why even the best protein powders (like from Optimum Nutrition) still carry this additive. I’ve yet to find a “perfect” ingredient list on an edible protein powder yet but the ones that come close have the soy lecithin. I know a lot of people have questions about protein powders so I hope to do a post in a couple days help pointing out the best ones. Any advice appreciated

    1. Natural Factors plain whey powder. It has a nice clean taste – jazz it up however you like.

  94. I need some help from the paleo community. I don’t mean to side-step, but it’s related to the topic, only not the content.

    Almond milk. In his book he says it’s a no go, but I’m a little confused. There was something about flavoring and other things I’m not entirely familiar with.

    I live overseas and the commissary here has Blue Diamond Almond Milk. Does anyone know if this is pale-ok? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

      1. I was just bragging to my fellow Marines (also all doing the paleo) how Mark Sisson personally responded to my question! Ha ha. Thanks. I followed the link and it was the exact information I needed. I’ll just eat almonds instead.

        Thanks again. We’re big fans of yours over here.

  95. Chicken skin is great if you can get organic free range chicken…. but if you have to eat ‘commercial-grown’ chicken it is best to remove the skin. Most ofthe growth hormones is found in the fat under the skin and by removing the skin you can get rid of 90% of the hormones.

  96. Mark, can you please do a write up on Coconut Palm Sugar – is it primal?

  97. We frequently buy Lindt Chili chocolate bars, because my wife likes the ‘bite’ from what the label calls, ‘chili extract.’
    These bars are 70% cocoa, but, as pointed out several times here, contain soy lecithin.
    I have before me a 100g bar of ‘72% Cocoa Swiss Dark Chocolate’. Ingredients are: Chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, natural flavour. No soy of any kind, although there is the disclaimer that it ‘may contain tree nuts, peanuts and soy.’ Cocoa solids: 72% minimum. These bars are made in Switzerland, under licence, for Interprovincial Co-operative Limited, a distribution corporation for many retail co-ops across Canada. In our co-op store, the bars regularly sell for C$1.69; they are frequently put on sale at 2/$3. I like the texture of these bars, and they have quite a hard consistency, like a premium-priced name-brand bar.
    My wife still prefers the Lindt….
    This is apparently an example of a product of a plant without a ‘name’ or an advertising budget, but one whose product is equal, and often superior, to ‘nationally adveertised brands.”
    BTW, the house brand bars at Safeway stores seem to be similar, but I have not compared the bars side by side to see if the molds have the same markins, or if the labels have the same ingredients list. I would not be beyond reason to discover both distributors access the same supplier.

  98. I have a question of is it primal? In the UK and I’m guessing a variation in America, there is a thing called Pepperami – a salami stick ‘Made with 37.5g of Pork per 25g finished product as some moisture is lost during curing and drying.’

    The ingrediants are :’Pork (150%), Salt, Glucose, Spices, Flavour Enhancers (Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium 5′ Ribonucleotides), Garlic Powder, Preservative (Sodium Nitrite)’.

    Is this primal? I would guess due to the glucose and preservative it would be in the 80/20? I would just like some verification because they are really nice meat snacks. thanks

    1. I still don’t understand the full biochemistry but basically glucose will cause some damage to the PUFA in pork. Cheap pork (which I assume this product uses) will have a rather high Omega-6 PUFA content due to it being fed grains.

      See and see if you understand it 🙂

      The Sodium Nitrite is fine, your saliva contains way more than they’ll put in there:

      I would mostly worry about the meat quality and the flavor enhancers like MSG. If you’re prone to headaches glutamates are not a good idea I gather.

      1. Thanks for the links. I have found another brand (although I agree the downside is probably the quality of the pork) which hasn’t got glucose but dextrose:

        Ingredients: Pork, Salt, Spice Mix (Dextrose, Chilli, Pepper, Garlic, Caraway, Antioxidant: Sodium Ascorbate; Chilli Extract, Onion Extract), Preservative: Sodium Nitrite, Made using 155g Pork per 100g of finished product, Moisture is lost during the drying process.

        Would this version count of primal (ignoring the meat quality as less primal), I’m not sure what dextrose is and have a limited is it primal knowledge when it comes to items like this – anyway any advice or suggestions would be helpful.

  99. Last night I tried a cold infusion of poppy seeds in pineapple juice. I mixed them in bottles and then shook the bottles a few times over the course of maybe an hour. It tasted good and was relaxing.
    I’ve been refilling the bottles with water to stay hydrated today and it still tastes good. The second infusion, which I downed early this morning, tasted pleasant with some honey and instant coffee added.

  100. Agave nectar is great if you let it ferment first, then distill it. Great with lemon.

  101. So I g=have found green lentils to be the easiest sprouts to grow and very tasty. We ate them as a staple in the winter pre-primal and I really don’t understand why they can’t be considered primal. I am sure primal eaters would have pulled up young plants to eat if they were readily available. My understanding is that one of the ways of judging whether something is prima is whether you can eat it raw
    lentils – no
    lentil sprouts – yes
    Please tell me what is wrong with eating sprouted green lentils as a raw veggie

  102. Slow roasting or simmering will break down skin and sinews. Fatty pork skin is the best. So gelatinous and fatty at the same time.

  103. HI, just starting out going proper primal, and was interested in whether Quorn is a legitimate nutritional replacement for meat protein.
    I eat meat, but having worked in the meat industry, and being mindful of the environmental damage of meat production, as well as the often less than optimum lifestyles many sources have (i know-get grass fed!), as well as having a veggie wife (for sensible reasons) im trying to reduce my meat intake (although I’d cheerfully munch my way through a cow), and figured that quorn might be a helpful (and cheap) substitute. It tastes pretty good, and is sustainable.
    Any thoughts Mark?

  104. Oh and in response to a few posts any fungus product will have a negative food poisoning effect on some people (A small percentage) who will respond badly as with any other allergy, even the humble breakfast mushroom.
    This is not a reason to avoid quorn, which Iv eaten regularly with no side effects.

  105. I am really bummed about agave. We bought some as it is low on the glycemic list which is very important to my wife as she is pre-diabetic.

    1. The glycaemic index is not necessarily a list of “what’s good, what’s bad” – it’s a list of things exhibiting varying degrees of one particular physiologic reaction in reference to glucose. It’s simple conceptually, but very complicated and imprecise in practice.

      Your wife would be well off to read the “Protein Power” books, as well as “The New Atkins For a New You”, and the companion “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living”.

      I use Stevia – specifically SweetLeaf liquid, as it’s hard to meter the powders. It’s heat stable. Now I can’t stand the taste of real sugars.

  106. Why is it, whenever I eat tapioca, that I feel giddy and clumsy and nauseated? It’s almost like a drug. It’s so weird. What causes that?

  107. I am SO glad that I stumbled across this today 1) because I have been wondering if coconut aminos has any health benefits in itself and 2) My mom and I were talking just yesterday (both of us chose to go Primal together almost a month ago – she talked me into it) and she was upset because she had eaten some of a Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate bar (86% cacao) thinking she was going to be okay. Well, it made her break out in some weird itchiness. Well, she got all sad thinking she would just have to cut out chocolate altogether. Until today! I came across this post and mentioned it to her, we looked up the ingredients in the chocolate and – lo and behold – soy lecithin. I instantly made her eat some of an organic dark chocolate bar that we had in the hosue (85% containing NO soy lecithin) to see what happens. That was about 2 hours ago and so far no itching! Thanks so much Mark!!!!!

  108. hello
    i was wondering where pea shoots would fit in here. Are they primal. I understand peas not being but surely the leafy shoots that have had to germinate are okay?

    Any clarification is greatly appreciated.

  109. I am so hungry now……. I am dating someone who is mainly vegetarian (dont worry she eats fish) – she doesnt want the salmon skin!!!!!!!

    she was going to give the skin to our cats…….. until a primal battle took place

    I came out a little bloody BUT THE SALMON SKIN WAS MINE!!!!!!!!

    and for chicken skin….. I create very sensual moans and start to uncontrolably dance in happiness when I get to eat it!

    I think the only food I love more then chicken skin or salmon skin is the fat on the bottom chunk of a ribeye steak……. I just drooled as I typed it in….

  110. Study never stops. There are so many things we need to know in life. But, I’m with you on one thing – the more animal skin we have, the better!