One comment I often get from people who are just starting to clean up their diets is that they miss crunchy foods. Things like panko, breadcrumbs, crispy breaded foods are hard not to miss. And it’s true. When you cut out all chips, crackers, cookies, and other grain-driven foods, the only crunch you’re generally left with is raw veggies and some fruits. The answer to today’s “Is It Paleo?” is going to be pretty obvious, but it’s worth talking about because it’s easy to forget just how many foods are made from processed ingredients that wreak havoc on our bodies.
What is Panko?
Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb with an unorthodox origin.
Panko (meaning “bread child”) starts out as a hunk of, well, bread. After it’s left to rise multiple times, it gets flattened with a metal weight and then electrocuted. That’s right—panko is electrified bread. Shocking (sorry – pun intended).
After it’s been zapped, it’s cut into small pieces and then passed through filters that reduce it down to the small, jagged pieces everyone knows as panko.
It sounds pretty awesome—who gets to say that they eat electrified food very often? However, there are a few things to keep in mind before we make a final decision on these Japanese breadcrumbs.
Is Panko Healthy?
First, it’s important to remember that, just like regular breadcrumbs, panko crumbs are made from grains.
In particular, it is sometimes noted for its acrylamide, a compound that forms when grains are cooked at high temperatures (can you get much hotter than straight electricity?). The World Health Organization (WHO) itself released a report saying that acrylamide is a “public health risk.” Some dangers cited included degenerative nerve changes, tumors, and hormone issues. In addition, WHO labeled acrylamide as carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
It is, of course, also important to recall the more common reasons why those following the Paleo diet go grain-free.
Remember that grains generally contribute to inflammation, gut issues, and all the diseases and disorders that arise from inflammation and gut issues (like heart disease). Also, the toxins in grains (such as gluten) damage the gut lining and make it difficult for our bodies to absorb nutrients.
Not surprisingly, Paleo experts have come to a consensus rather quickly about what to do with panko.
What do other Paleo gurus say?
Kelley Herring says: “Panko is bad news when it comes to your health.”
Marla Sarris says: “Is panko Paleo? NO.”
Is Panko Paleo?
All of the toxins of grains can still be found in panko.Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives. If you’re trying to bread something in true Paleo style, try almond flour or ground pork rinds.