V8, Mezcal, Ezekiel Bread, and More

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In this “Is It Primal?” series of posts I’ve already scrutinized sprouts, cashews, sunflower butter, chocolate milk and a couple dozen other foods for their suitability in a healthy human diet. Today, I’m covering Ezekiel bread, the sprouted grain amalgamation favored by conventional health nuts; V8, the tomato juice with a little vegetable juice mixed in; edamame, the little kid of the soybean family; mezcal, tequila’s mysterious older brother; and tigernuts, which aren’t what you probably think they are.

Ready to go? Let’s do it:

Ezekiel Bread

Ezekiel bread is the stuff that you’d be forced to eat peanut butter and jelly on whenever you went over to your friend-with-the-hippie-parents’ house. The bread would be made from sprouted grains, the peanut butter would be sprouted, and even the strawberry seeds in the strawberry jam would be sprouted. Back then, you just wanted some Wonderbread and Jiffy, but now? Now that you’re health conscious, grain wary, and can rattle off a laundry list of anti-nutrients at a moment’s notice, you see that telltale orange package in the bread section of the Whole Foods and wonder if maybe it’s a decent choice for those times you want to splurge with some buttered bread. So, is it?

Kinda. One study found that eating sprouted grain breads (not Ezekiel, but similar to it) reduced the blood sugar response and increases the glucagon response when compared to eating unsprouted breads, 11-grain, 12-grain, white, or sourdough. That’s pretty good… for a bread. But it’s still bread. I’d like to see it matched up against a lack of bread.

Plus, sprouting might take care of some or most of the phytic acid, but it doesn’t break down the gluten. And with the first ingredient being whole wheat, and other major ingredients including barley and spelt, there’s going to be a significant amount of gluten remaining in the finished product. Some might be degraded, but not all of it. I’d suspect that gluten sensitive people will react “better” to Ezekiel bread, not “well.” Not enough to justify eating it, in my opinion. Celiacs, of course, should avoid it altogether.

Verdict: Not Primal, but possibly better than white bread (and whole grain bread, for that matter).

V8

All your vegetable needs in a can — what’s not to love?

First, the imbalanced sodium/potassium ratio. I have nothing against salt, but it’s fairly well-accepted that an imbalance between sodium and potassium intake is one of the factors involved in developing hypertension. Since one of the best reasons to eat vegetables is to get enough potassium to balance out the sodium you get elsewhere, drinking V8 for the potassium is kinda like eating salmon cooked in soybean oil for the omega-3s. Sure, you’ll technically get some DHA and EPA, but you’ll also get an equal amount of linoleic acid.

Second, seeing as how V8 100% vegetable juice is actually 87% tomato juice (from concentrate), it’s more accurate to say V8 provides all your tomato juice needs in a can. Which is totally fine, but it’s not an effective replacement for your celery, spinach, beet, carrot, lettuce, parsley, or watercress needs. I’m actually a fan of tomato juice, even the pasteurized, reconstituted type. Rather than render it nutritionally void, pasteurization actually increases the lycopene — a potent antioxidant that can help prevent sunburns, among other qualities — content of tomato products (including juice). V8 is great for tomato juice, not “vegetables.”

Third, V8 appears to contain traces of BPA, perhaps because the cans are lined with it (though a type of baby formula had more).

Verdict: Primal — it doesn’t contain added sugar or weird ingredients — but it doesn’t replace actual vegetables.

Edamame

Edamame have several strikes agianst it, right off the bat. It’s soy, which contains potent phytoestrogens, isoflavones that interact with estrogen receptors in the body. It’s a legume. It’s unfermented, unsprouted, and unsoaked. If it’s being served in the United States, it’s likely genetically modified. So, shall I strike it off the list and move on to the next one? No, of course not. That’s not what we do here.

There are actually some “better” things about edamame when you compare them to other forms of unfermented soy:

Edamame are young soy beans, still in the pods. They are not eaten raw, but they don’t require a lot of cooking. A light steam (or run through the microwave, as sushi restaurants do) will sufficiently tenderize the little beans. These aren’t hardy, difficult-to-digest dried beans. They’re more like green peas or green beans, which I previously gave the stamp of approval.

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