Is Quinoa Paleo? Can you eat Quinoa on the Paleo Diet?

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If you have just started the Paleo diet and are wondering if the ever popular food item Quinoa falls under the category of paleo-friendly foods then we are here to tell you that the answer is not as simple as you may think.

Let us first understand what is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a seed harvested from the Chenopodium Quinoa plant which makes it different from whole grains or cereal grains that are also known as seeds but taken out from grasses, not plants.

The fact that we eat Quinoa almost in the similar manner we eat whole grains is the reason people tend to consider it the same but if you really want to categorize Quinoa then we can say that it is counted as a ‘pseudo-cereal’ which makes it neither a grain nor a cereal.

So now coming back to the main question, is Quinoa Paleo?

The short answer would be NO.

But let us take a closer look at why is not considered Paleo and why you cannot include it in a Paleo Diet.

Technically Quinoa is a seed which is why many people get confused when they hear that it is not Paleo, some have even continued consuming it in their Paleo diet without realizing that it contains some of the potential harmful properties found in grains.

While we cannot deny the fact that the food is gluten-free, high in protein and better than most grains but it still does not qualify as Paleo-friendly.

Along with having high carbohydrate content, Quinoa is also at times hard to process. Many people find it difficult to digest mainly because it contains anti-nutrients such as saponins, protease inhibitors and lectins.

These anti nutrients are produced by plants to prevent the growth of mold and fungus while also working as a defense mechanism to protect the seed but for those who consume food with these properties often fall victims to irritation of the digestive system.

The negative effects of Quinoa can be reduced by soaking, rinsing or polishing the seeds before adding them to our favorite recipes but the fact remains that these seeds are not Paleo and can cause weakening of the immune system over time.

So are there any healthy substitutes to Quinoa?

There are many ‘seeds’ that are Paleo-friendly such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds but unlike Quinoa you cannot consume them in the same style as grains-something which is possible with Quinoa, making it so popular.

However as many compare Quinoa to be as versatile as rice, which is another non-paleo-friendly food item, there are ways in which you can exchange both the items for something better.

Paleo enthusiasts often use cauliflower as a substitute for rice where the healthy item is processed to look like rice minus the harmful properties of the latter.

As Quinoa is often used in stir fries, baking and also porridge, there are many paleo friendly items which can be used in it replacement to make the same recipes but only healthier.

If you enjoyed quinoa porridge for breakfast then don’t worry because there are many other ways in which you can cook up a bowl of paleo friendly porridge without a hint of quinoa.  The best options are to use bananas, coconut and various seeds and nuts to whip up countless recipes of delicious porridges.

Below you will find some healthy alternatives for quinoa- these foods can be used to make all the recipes which you would have used quinoa in if it was paleo friendly.  As we already mentioned that Quinoa is a seed but consumed as a grain so we have compiled a list of food items which you can use instead of grains. We have also included the seeds which are Paleo-friendly.

Grain, Carb and Legume Substitutes for Paleo

  • Cauliflower Rice
  • Broccoli Rice
  • Plantains
  • Cauliflower Crust
  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Butternut Squash Noodles

Paleo Friendly Seeds

  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds

The internet is a wonderful place to find out what food is Paleo-friendly and what are not. If you are serious about following a Paleo diet and are strict in sticking by the rules then you must avoid Quinoa and look for ways in which you can replace the food without feeling completely at loss.

Following the Paleo diet is a lifestyle and you will need some guidelines to help you bring about the changes in your everyday eating habits. While the diet may seem boring and limited to some, many will tell you that by having the right knowledge and the proper guide you can enjoy a diversity of recipes while maintaining the diet.

The Paleo Hacks Cook Book consists of a collection of recipes and useful contents that can help you switch to the Paleo diet very easily. It is a downloadable eBook that includes over 200 recipes and a complete guide to how you can continue your Paleo diet in the simplest way and also enjoy healthy meals throughout the day, everyday.

We recommend checking out this article to know more about the book and how you can benefit from it. 

It is currently a best seller, a very popular product among Paleo enthusiasts and nutritionists alike so it is definitely something worth checking out if you need help in making a smooth transition to the Paleo lifestyle.


As we come to the end of this post let us quickly go over the important things regarding Quinoa.

As much as we would like to believe that this ‘superfood’ is healthy for us, we cannot overlook the fact that it does more harm than good to our body despite being been a ‘seed’ and healthier than most grains.

It cannot be included in a Paleo diet as it is a hard to process food which is sometimes difficult to digest and has been known to weaken the digestive system.

If you have sworn to follow the Paleo diet in the strictest of manner then you must by all means avoid Quinoa.

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