Along with the Keto and Whole 30 diets, the Paleo diet is currently trending in popularity. Also called the “caveman” or “stone-age” diet, it’s based on the idea that today’s farming practices are not what they were when our ancestors ate 10,000 years ago. Paleo diet supporters believe in the hypothesis that our bodies have not been able to adapt to a modern diet, and thus is a contributing factor to the prevalence of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.
A paleo diet prohibits all grains, including whole grains, dairy and legumes. It also prohibits processed foods, sugars, salt, refined vegetable oils, alcohol and coffee. On the other hand, foods allowed include fresh fruits and vegetables (canned or frozen would be considered processed), lean meats and fish, nuts and seeds, eggs and small amounts of honey.
The pros of the diet is that it encourages fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and a few studies have shown the diet to produce short-term weight loss and cardiovascular benefits. The cons, however, is that portion sizes are not really mentioned, so it could be easy to over-consume high-calorie foods like nuts and seeds and some meats. There’s also a heavy reliance on meat, which can be very expensive, and red meat consumption is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and mortality. Another concerning con is the exclusion of two entire food groups (grains and dairy), which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. While four randomized controlled studies have shown short-term benefits, more long-term, high-quality studies are necessary. These four studies had less than 40 participants and the trials were only six months or less, making it difficult to generalize for the entire population. Rather than embarking on diet trends that have you excluding entire food groups, eat a balanced diet of unsaturated fats, lean protein and carbohydrates, which include whole grains and legumes. Follow the MyPlate guidelines at www.choosemyplate.org.
Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
½ cup almond milk
3 Tablespoons mashed blueberries
½ teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients into a mason jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Stir and enjoy!
Yield: 1 serving
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 12 grams fat, 160 milligrams sodium, 20 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams fiber, 7 grams protein