Tag Archives: zinc

Oyters on Grill |The Paleo Diet

Zinc! It’s the essential mineral that’s praised by many advocates involved in the Paleo community. Most people generally recognize zinc for its reputation as a potent cold and flu virus prevention solution, but its numerous benefits also extend beyond its role as an immunity-boosting mineral.

Ensuring adequate zinc intake in one’s diet is absolutely necessary for achieving long term health goals while following an ancestral eating plan. Zinc is essential for maintaining numerous physiological functions within the human body including tissue and epithelial integrity, immune system regulation, cellular growth, gut health, and inflammation suppression. The current USA government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc averages in at approximately 10 mg. The USA RDA for zinc might be adequate for maintaining proper zinc levels for most healthy human beings that do not suffer from a zinc deficiency, but higher short-term dosages are likely needed to correct a deficiency. Physical indications of zinc deficiency include but are not limited to frequent viral infections, white spots or streaks on the fingernails, poor physical growth in childhood, hair loss, impaired vision, diarrhea, acne, dandruff, chronic dry skin, and impaired mental functioning (i.e. depression, anxiety, brain fog). It’s worth noting that all of the listed conditions can also result from the manifestation of other nutrient and mineral imbalances, and ensuring a highly varied nutrient rich ancestral diet that is rich in omega-3’s is crucial to preventing and resolving any of the aforementioned health issues.

Zinc in excess can be equally problematic as zinc deficiency. The daily upper limit threshold for zinc in healthy individuals is about 40 mg for adults over 19 and 25mg for those under 19. Excessive zinc consumption is characterized by severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite. Over the long term, excessive zinc intake in the absence of copper will result in the gradual depletion of copper from the human body. For this reason it is recommended that those looking to supplement zinc in their diets should avoid zinc dietary supplements and instead opt for “au-naturel” food-based sources of zinc that are inherently proportionately balanced with copper.

Those looking to ensure optimum zinc intake in their diet must decide whether to source their zinc from animal sources or plant sources. Below are two tables demonstrating a handful of the highest ranking sources of zinc from both plants and animals. The zinc content of each source is listed in mg. Note that many of the listed zinc-rich plant foods do not adhere to the Paleo lifestyle.

Zinc Sources Table | The Paleo Diet

When examining the table above, it becomes obvious that ratio of zinc in animal-based foods is significantly higher than the ratio of zinc found in plant-based foods. Additionally, all of the animal-based sources of zinc naturally have appropriate zinc to copper ratios, so you don’t have to worry about creating a mineral imbalance while consuming these foods.

Now you might be wondering if it is still worth considering plant-based sources of zinc in your diet. From the tables above, it is immediately apparent that one would have to consume much higher quantities of zinc-containing plant foods to achieve the same proportion of zinc found in the animal foods listed above. Besides pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, all of the other listed plant-based zinc sources are off limits for Paleo followers. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that many of the zinc-rich plant foods such as legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains contain phytates (i.e. phytic acid). Phytates have been demonstrated to bind to zinc and other important dietary minerals such as iron and manganese. The bonding of phytates with zinc and other minerals upon digestion drastically reduces your body’s ability to absorb these key minerals, thus making you more prone to mineral deficiencies. Animal foods do not inhibit the absorption of zinc or other minerals and instead aid in absorption during digestion.

Oysters rank supreme amongst all other zinc containing food sources available for human consumption, and thus are ideal for treating individuals with zinc deficiency, and for those simply looking to incorporate zinc-rich food sources into their diets.

Oysters have long been revered for their rich taste and nutritional qualities across all parts of the globe. Preference for oyster consumption has shown up in historical documentation dating back to the ancient Greeks and Chinese. In fact, in Europe up until the 18th century oysters were considered a “luxury” food only reserved for the highest classes. Within the colonies of North America, oyster consumption was never restricted to the rich and thus most colonists and Native Americans consumed oysters regularly. The 19th century in The United States was marked by the widespread establishment of “oyster bars” that originated on the eastern seaboard and quickly became popular throughout the west. By 1881 there were nearly 379 oyster bars in Philadelphia alone! Zinc deficiency was likely not a major problem for oyster-loving 19th century Americans.

Nowadays oysters are becoming an increasingly obsolete food source. Oysters can be difficult to source fresh, especially if you are like myself and live thousands of miles inland from the nearest ocean. The best economical solution for inlanders is to purchase canned oysters from your local grocery store. A large majority of the oysters on store shelves are canned in cottonseed oil, which you will definitely want to avoid if you are sticking to a Paleo eating plan. Fortunately, Crown Prince offers a line of smoked oysters that are canned in extra-virgin olive oil. I have seen these oysters available in Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s for about $2 – $3 per can. If you are not quite adjusted to the “delicious” taste of oysters yet, try topping them with a few drops of Paleo-friendly hot sauce.

References

1. Berger, Abi. “What does zinc do?.” BMJ 325.7372 (2002): 1062.
2. Hambidge, M. (2000). Human zinc deficiency. The Journal of nutrition,130(5), 1344S-1349S.
3. Lönnerdal, B. O. (2000). Dietary factors influencing zinc absorption. The Journal of nutrition, 130(5), 1378S-1383S.
4. Ma, J., & Betts, N. M. (2000). Zinc and copper intakes and their major food sources for older adults in the 1994–96 continuing survey of food intakes by individuals (CSFII). The Journal of nutrition, 130(11), 2838-2843.
5. Office of Dietary Supplements – Zinc. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2015, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

Red Meat and The Paleo Diet

Who doesn’t like a nice, rare filet mignon for dinner?  Or some flank steak, marinated in cumin, orange, lime and garlic, sautéed with peppers and onions and served with Bibb Lettuce warps and guacamole to create Paleo Fajitas?

It’s too bad we can’t eat this type of food that often. Or can we? We’ve all heard “Don’t eat red meat more than once per week” and “Always choose the leanest cuts of meat” from not only our doctors, but also from the media.

Unfortunately, the misconception that eating red meat, in and of itself, can cause certain types of cancers, high cholesterol and weight gain in the case of choosing fattier cuts, often serves as a deterrent for eating what is, in actuality, an outstanding source of protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins and fatty acids.

While we’d certainly want to avoid feed-lot, corn-fed beef, if we also ‘steer’ clear (pardon the pun) of 100% grass-fed beef, we’re actually doing ourselves a huge disservice.

To group the two together and present the nutritional value as one in the same would be akin to categorizing all proteins under one heading, where anything from hot dogs to wild salmon are suggested to be basically the same.

Not only does grass-fed beef come from a far more humane source, it’s also much higher in omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (a potent source of antioxidants), Vitamin E and beta-carotene than grain-fed beef.

So how often can we eat it?  Isn’t more than once per week too much?

Eating it in balance, with a variety of other wild proteins, is the key.

Just as we wouldn’t want to eat only pastured chicken breast and wild salmon along with only broccoli and spinach, if we focus on incorporating some grass-fed meat, some wild fish, some pastured chicken, some eggs from pastured hens and some game meats, if accessible, we’ll reach a nicely balanced range of proteins, to accompany an equally varied array of fresh, local, in season veggies.

Now, what about choosing between a rib eye and a filet? Surely, the rib eye is a no-go, isn’t it? Not necessarily.

There’s room on a Paleo Diet for a fattier cut now and then, too.

So long as we stick with grass-fed, adding the more decadent cuts once in a while can often be what keeps us more likely to stay true to our Paleo lifestyle.

The satiating effect of the higher fat content, not to mention the flavor, can be the pièce de résistance of a special occasion meal, providing that beautiful balance so inherent to this healthy approach to eating and living.

Here is a great recipe to try; it’s my Paleoista version of Argentinean Flank Steak with Chimichurri.

Salud!

INGREDIENTS

Serves 2-3

  • 2 lbs grass fed flank steak
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Dried crushed red pepper, optional, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Using a meat tenderizer tool, pound both sides of steak.

2. Place smashed garlic onto flesh of one side and pound into meat with tenderizer tool.

3. Rub thoroughly with olive oil and squeeze lime on top.

4. Combine all dry spices and press into meat.

5. Place in glass or ceramic dish and cover tightly; let marinate in refrigerator at least four hours.

6. Combine four remaining ingredients in mini prep food processor and whiz to combine. Tightly cover and refrigerate.

7. Preheat oven to broil (or light up the barbeque) and cook for roughly three minutes per side for rare, or longer for more done.

8. Remove from heat and let rest while you steam your favorite veggies.

9. Serve together with parsley combination on top.

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