Is That Paleo?

For the most part, the idea behind the paleo diet is pretty straight forward: When in doubt, stay away from grains and dairy. Easy, right? Unfortunately, the edges of paleo’s dietary no-go list are blurry. In some cases, people have different definitions of what actually constitutes a “paleo” food. Three of the most common offenders? Sweet potatoes, wine, and coffee. We love all three, but do these foods actually have a place in the “paleo” diet? 

Sweet Potatoes

Short answer: Yes!

Long answer: The confusion here often arises from trying to distinguish sweet potatoes from plain, boring old white potatoes. They are both starchy tubers that come from the ground, right? Often, sweet potatoes are held up as the holy grail of good, complex carbohydrates in the paleo world, while they also appear on a fair share of “forbidden” food lists. Why is that? Part of the confusion comes from the fact that both sweet potatoes and white potatoes have similar amounts of carbohydrates. And, while sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, it is often advised that the those who intend to seriously limit their carbohydrates avoid both. Why, then, are sweet potatoes considered so healthy? Probably because they’re nutritional rock stars! The vitamin and mineral concentrations present in sweet potatoes are off the charts, especially when it comes to Vitamin A (they’re orange for a reason). When in doubt, think about the color: all those nutrients help give sweet potatoes their vibrant orange hue. Remember when they said eat the rainbow?

 Wine

Short answer:  Yes (kinda)

Long answer. Oh, wine. We wish this wasn’t as much of a gray area as it is. If you want to talk strictly about composition of a food, then yes, wine may fit the bill. There’s some evidence to suggest that our Paleolithic ancestors did occasionally consume alcohol. The first point regarding this is that wine with added sulfites, which definitely didn’t exist way back when, are out of the question, so if you do want to imbibe spend some time finding a vinter who produces wine without these chemical compounds. On the other hand, one of the main points of the paleo diet is to remove toxins from the body. There’s not really any question that alcohol is, in fact, a toxin. So, while wine may technically fit the bill, it’s best to either avoid or limit it in your diet if your serious about eating clean.

Coffee

Short answer: Not really…

Long Answer: Part of the focus of the paleo diet is on eliminating foods that are inflammatory to your body. Since caffeine is technically a stimulant, it can impair your natural bodily functions in certain ways, especially with regard to energy levels, moods, and sleep. Therefore, if you’re looking to get serious about being paleo, in the broadest sense of the diet possible, coffee probably doesn’t fit the bill.   

Published on: Tuesday, July 19