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Is Einkorn Paleo?

Louise Hendon | December 20
is einkorn paleo?

I got asked this great question recently, and I thought I’d share the answer with everyone since it can be confusing.

Quick Answer To Is Einkorn Paleo?

No, it’s not Paleo, because einkorn is still a grain and still contains gluten.

What is Einkorn Wheat or Flour?

Einkorn wheat is considered to be an ancient grain (wheat) first cultivated perhaps 5000 to 10,000 years ago.  Einkorn flour is the flour made from einkorn wheat.

I like to think of einkorn wheat as an old ancestor to the wheat we eat today. So, they share some similarities, but the ancestor is perhaps a tiny bit better looking.

Einkorn has gotten a lot of press in recent years as a healthier version of traditional wheat, and it’s become popular for many searching for a healthier diet. You can find einkorn wheat and flour sold in many health stores and online.  But I personally don’t think it’s the long term health solution people are looking for.

Scientifically, there is a small study that showed that the gluten (gliadin) in einkorn is less toxic to celiacs than than in modern wheat, but that gluten could still cause long term damage to your intestinal tract over the long run, and there would have to be more scientific evidence to convince me.

So that’s really where the good news ends.

Is Einkorn Better Than Regular Wheat?

Potentially – there are definitely suggestions that einkorn is more digestible than regular wheat, but I personally am not willing to risk it especially since it’s still not nutritionally great (there are plenty of other delicious foods out there that will beat it in terms of vitamin and mineral content!).

If Einkorn Is An Ancient Grain, Then Does That Make It Paleo?

Sadly not! For 3 reasons:

  1. Einkorn is not Paleolithic ancient – Einkorn is estimated to date back perhaps 10,000 years, but when we talk about eating like our ancestors, we’re talking about eating like people did in the Paleolithic times (that’s like 2 million years ago)!
  2. The gliadin in Einkorn is still likely toxic to us – the protein in all grains (and especially the gluten in wheat) cause digestive issues in humans over the long run, which is why the Paleo diet removes all grains including einkorn.
  3. Einkorn (like all grains) is NOT very nutritious – while einkorn may be slightly more nutritious than regular wheat, it’s still pretty poor when compared to lots of other Paleo foods. As pointed out by Dr. Loren Cordain, “consumption of cereal grains actually reduces the overall vitamin and mineral content of the diet because cereal grains on average are less nutrient dense for the 13 vitamins and minerals most lacking in the US diet when compared to fish, seafood, lean meat, fresh vegetables and fruits.”

Have You Tried Einkorn Wheat or Flour?

If so, let us know in the comments below your thoughts on it.

Images: Copyright © photocrew from Fotolia

Sheryl Hallmark - December 20

Thanks so much for expanding on your explanation. I’m printing this for my friend, because she does suffer from celiac disease.

So looking forward to studying my new “Essential Paleo Cookbook” and all the other info that comes with it! Thanks, Louise and Jeremy, for your hearts for our health.

Heidi Gordon - December 20

Einkorn grew wild millions of years ago and that does make it Paleo. This wheat has not changed and was never hybridized, unlike modern wheat.

    Louise Hendon - December 23

    Thanks Heidi for that point – however, it does not appear that humans ate any einkorn or were capable of it until very recently (10,000 years), so if that’s how you’re judging whether something or not is Paleo, that would make it not very Paleo at all. Also, as the article points out, that’s not the way to judge whether a food is Paleo or not.

Lenore H - December 24

I have been paleo for over 2 years now (doing about 80% now) and bought some einkorn so I could bake for my kids at Christmas time. I have become very intolerant of commercial wheat (causes stomach issues etc., that I didn’t have “before”.) So, I made some whole food, einkorn, oatmeal cookies. They turned out great and the kids like them, and I could actually tolerate the grain. I will NOT however, be making this a part of my regular diet, but it’s nice for a little treat once in a while. I think people need to figure out what works better for themselves, and to use it for a once in a while treat (birthday cake, Christmas cookies etc), well, it’s better than eating GMO white or wheat flour!

James H. - December 27

I tried einkorn two ways: regular bread and sourdough bread. Both were good and made a light, “fluffy” product. My only problem was the same as today’s flours, I get a serious blood glucose spike tending to last longer than a meal including, say, a large baked potato. A large potato alone will cause my BG to rise to 130 mg/dl but will drop to less than 100 mg/dl in less than an hour. ALL wheat flours, including einkorn, will result in a BG approaching 200 mg/dl taking almost two hours to drop to less than 100 mg/dl.

The occasional 200+ spike is not harmful in a healthy body but people eat bread several times per day and I am unwilling to subject my already bruised and battered pancreas to further abuse from an “ancient” form of refined carbohydrate.

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