Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Tag: nuts/seeds

Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?

Who doesn’t like nuts? They’re crunchy, fatty, nutritious, and convenient. They travel well. Tossing them into the air and catching them with your mouth is a fun way to impress any onlookers (this effect is enhanced if you sit in a chair backward at the same time). They even turn into butter. Nuts are the common bond between all dietary sects, it seems. Vegans love them for the protein. Ancestral eaters accept them, some begrudgingly. Weston A. Pricers have to soak, sprout, dehydrate, and ferment them before they’ll even consider eating nuts, but in the end, they love them. Mainstream healthy dieters dig their “healthy fats.” Epidemiologists, squirrels, and birds laud them. They’re self-contained little morsels of instant edibility, good raw and roasted alike. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s the phytic acid. Wait – isn’t that the stuff you find in grains and legumes? Yes. Should we be concerned? Let’s take a look…

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

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

Let’s dig in, shall we?

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Dear Mark: Are Roasted Nuts and Nut-Based Baked Goods Healthy?

I type these words with cranberry stickiness under my fingernails and the faint but unmistakable scent of turkey lingering about my person (I don’t think Buddha, my white lab, has stopped following me around all weekend, sneaking in the odd lick to an elbow still glistening with turkey grease; and, yep, he just got me again). The massive poultry carcass just finished three days of simmering for stock, odd bits of breast meat and yam and solidified gravy popping up on every shelf in the fridge, empty wine bottles holding an Occupy Kitchen Counter. Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you.

A staple of Thanksgiving seems to be fretting over holiday treats, only it’s a little different in the Primal community. Instead of freaking out over the saturated fat content of a dollop of whipped cream on a slice of pumpkin pie, we agonize over the gluten content, wonder if baking truly deactivated all the wheat germ agglutinin present in the crust, and speculate about how our gut flora will react to the fiber in the pumpkin filling. And when we make our own versions of holiday baked goods, like almond meal this or walnut flour that, we worry about the potential oxidation of the heated omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in the nuts. In fact, in the past week, I have received several questions on this very topic:

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Dear Mark: Hempseed, Too Much Omega-3, and Vitamin D’s Halflife

It’s a lovely summer morning here in Malibu. The cool sea breeze keeps the coming warmth at bay, for now, and makes me glad for the hot mug of coffee I’m clutching. I’ve still got a couple hours before heading into the office, so I’m hoping that I can get this post wrapped up and edited in time to hit the water for a bit of paddle boarding. We’ll see. I’ll try not to rush things too much. Today we’ve got a quick round of questions on a diverse set of topics: the suitability of hempseed in the Primal way of eating, whether you can get too much omega-3, and how long vitamin D lingers in the body before you need to replenish your stocks. As always, feel free to keep the questions coming and I’ll do my best to get to them!

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Dear Mark: Marcona Almonds, Olives, Grass-Fed Whey, and Carbquik

If you weren’t at UCLA this weekend for the Ancestral Health Symposium, you really missed out on the brainiest, brawniest, most physically and mentally impressive gathering I’ve been witness to. My hat’s off to the organizers (and my friends), Aaron Blaisdell and Brent Pottenger, and all the presenters and volunteers who made it happen. It went more smoothly than I’ve ever seen a conference of this magnitude go – and this was the inaugural one! I’m looking forward to the future and I’ve got a good feeling that this weekend will prove to be a powerful milestone in the story of the movement. All the presentations were filmed. I’ll alert you when they become available.

Let’s get to the questions. I field a Marcona almond query, discuss the unpalatability of raw olives, explain my stance on grass-fed whey protein, and lambast Carbquik.

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

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

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

Okay, on to the questions:

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Smart Fuel: Macadamia Oil

What can compare to the sweet, buttery mac nut’s tender embrace? As far as nuts, seeds, and pseudo-nuts go, its fatty acid profile is unparalleled. Throw a handful into a bowl of Greek yogurt, along with blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries (or any berry, really), and you’ve got yourself a rich, masterful dessert with minimal linoleic acid. And it’s got good amounts of magnesium, manganese, thiamine, copper, and iron. Pack a baggy full and you’ve got yourself the perfect trail food for day long hikes. Suffice it to say, they’re my go-to snack when I’m feeling a bit peckish throughout the day.

But that’s not why I’m here today – to extoll the virtues of the macadamia nut.

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Monday Musings: Poop Transplants, Sleep Deprivation and Going Nuts

And now for another round of Monday Musings…

Let’s Talk Sh**
Poop is the new probiotic. Doctors have been using fecal transplants as a “last resort,” mostly to treat the rising scourge of Clostridium difficile, a gut bug that affects about 250,000 Americans every year and proves extremely resistant to antibiotics. Shooting a fecal extract from healthy people into the C. diff-ridden colons of the affected has a 95% success rate. Some docs are pushing for the last resort to be the go-to move. I can’t argue with that.

But gut health isn’t just about acute infection. It’s also about basic metabolic health. A study showed that sterile mice receiving a fecal transplant from obese mice gained more weight than sterile mice who received transplants from lean mice. And most recently, a Dutch pilot study gave 18 obese males with pronounced metabolic syndrome fecal transplants from lean individuals. They did not lose weight, but they did experience improved insulin sensitivity and triglyceride numbers. These improvements reverted after about 12 weeks.

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How Much is Too Much? – Round 2

Last week’s post covering upper recommendations garnered so much interest – and additional questions – that I thought we’d give it another go around. While last week’s list took on basics like protein and fat as well as worthy indulgences like chocolate and – drum roll, please –BACON (break for rampant applause), this week I’ll take on a mix of specific foods and activity. Thanks for everyone’s great comments and questions last week, and be sure to weigh in on this week’s round.

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Dear Mark: Nuts and Omega-6s

Nuts have gotten a surprising amount of flack as of late. Many nuts have a fairly high PUFA content, and most of that PUFA is Omega-6, which is the bad one. It’s easily oxidized, highly unstable for cooking, usually rancid on the shelf, and, thanks to government farm subsidies and public hysteria over animal fat, it’s in absolutely everything nowadays. We Primal types generally avoid it for good reason, and that tends to influence how we react to the O6 content of nuts. Last week I received this email from a reader:

Dear Mark,

I’m a little confused. I get the animal fat, the meat, the veggies, and the lowish sugar fruit recommendations, but what about nuts? I love nuts, don’t get me wrong… I’m just a bit paranoid about the Omega 6 content. You recommend nuts in the book. If you (and pretty much all other Primal bloggers) tell us to avoid Omega 6 fats, should we still be eating them?  I’m having trouble reconciling the two bits of advice and there seem to be mixed messages out there. Thanks.

Is there a place for nuts in the Primal Blueprint diet? Let’s take a closer look.

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