Is Quinoa Paleo Friendly?

The paleo diet has taken the fitness and health world by storm. It’s a miracle diet plan that has you lose fat without having to sacrifice any calories. What’s more, a paleo diet lets you nom on all kinds of delicious foods. More and more people are becoming paleo fanatics and for a good reason. People who are new to the diet often have a hard time figuring out what to eat and what not to eat. Quinoa is a perfect example of a disputed food item. Is quinoa paleo friendly or not is a hot topic in the paleo world nowadays. Some people believe that it is perfectly paleo friendly while others feel like it doesn’t meet the set standards of the paleo diet. Today, we’re going to go through the facts and figure out whether Quinoa is okay for a paleo diet or should it be avoided.

Well, the answer to this question isn’t a simple yes or no. If we look at Quinoa from a scientific point of view, then things become even more confusing. This is because Quinoa falls somewhere in between seeds and grains. Before we delve deeper into the conflicted nature of Quinoa, let’s talk a bit more about the paleo diet itself.

The Paleo Diet

This diet is incredibly simple in theory. All you have to do it stick to food items that our ancestors used to eat before they learned how to farm. We humans used to be hunter-gatherers before we learned how to farm. The paleo diet reasons that once we began farming, we started producing food items that nature hadn’t intended for us to eat. Hence, these food items aren’t the best source of nourishment for our bodies. This means that a variety of food items, including grains, must be avoided.

The list of things that the paleo diet deems acceptable for our bodies includes meat, nuts, seeds, and more. We’ve talked about the paleo diet in great detail in a previous article. You can go through it if you want more information about going paleo. Our point of talking about the paleo diet here is to discuss exactly why certain food items are to be avoided. Namely, grains; a vital ingredient that is part of various regions’ staple diet. While grains our nourishing, they also consist of various anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are substances that are bad for our immune system and our digestive system in the long run. Anti-nutrients that are commonly found in grains include:

  • Lectins
  • Gluten
  • Saponins

These are the kind of substances that we should avoid consuming. Grains are also avoided due to their high carb content.

The Nature of Quinoa

Quinoa is essentially a seed that comes from the goosefoot plant. It is officially classified as a seed. There are a variety of seeds that are allowed in a paleo diet because they’re a rich source of nutrients. However, it is also classified as a pseudocereal. Meaning that it’s a food item that lies in the grey area that exists between seeds and grains. This is where all the confusion regarding Quinoa comes from.

Some people say that since it’s a seed, then it’s a paleo friendly food item. Others argue that it is also classified as a grain, which makes it unsuitable for paleo diets.

The reason why Quinoa is thought to be a grain is that it does contain some harmful anti-nutrients. ​Quinoa is gluten free, in fact, Quinoa is loaded with protein and essential amino acids. However, it contains harmful anti-nutrients and has a very high number of carbs. Quinoa also includes Saponins, which are mostly present in its out husk.

So, Is ​Quinoa Paleo Friendly?

After taking a detailed look at Quinoa, we can surmise that Quinoa is and isn’t paleo friendly. It’s a superb source of protein and other nutrients that are required in a paleo diet. However, it also has properties that make it anti-paleo. Namely, this pseudocereal contains anti-nutrients and loads of carbs.

Some people argue that processing Quinoa and turning it into flour can negate its bad properties. Processing Quinoa will get rid of its outer husk, the part that contains most of the anti-nutrients. While this is a plausible way of eating Quinoa, it isn’t a well-rounded solution. Processed Quinoa is a huge source of carbs. This makes it a bad ingredient for regular intake. Unless you have a very active lifestyle and require loads of carbs, another problem with processed Quinoa is its availability. Good quality, properly processed Quinoa is hard to come by.

Quinoa can be counted as a paleo food item, provided that it is prepared correctly. If you can’t find any processed Quinoa, then you should thoroughly clean it before use. Leave the seeds to soak in some water for a few hours. Then rinse them in water to get rid of their outer husk. This will significantly reduce the amount of bad substances present.

Quinoa is a food item that is popular amongst people who are new to the paleo diet. It acts as a handy transitioning ingredient for when you’re preparing to leave grains behind completely. Once you’ve become used to a proper paleo diet, then it is advised to leave Quinoa behind as well. This is because there are a ton of other food items that you can replace Quinoa with.


Quinoa is a very nutritive pseudocereal. It is loaded with protein and is a complete source of essential amino acids such as phytic acid. However, it also contains plenty of carbohydrates and certain anti-nutrients. This handful of grain-like properties present in Quinoa make it a disputed ingredient amongst paleo dieters. One can have Quinoa in their paleo diet if it is properly prepped. However, Quinoa shouldn’t be thought of as an irreplaceable food item. You can find many food items with the same benefits. The biggest attraction of eating Quinoa is that it can be used to substitute grains. People who have a hard time saying goodbye to grains can use Quinoa as a transitioning food item.

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