Is Baking Soda Paleo?

baking-soda-300x198.jpg
It’s a common question in the Paleo community: is baking soda Paleo? The short answer is, yes! While our cavemen ancestors certainly weren’t employing the leavening powers of baking soda in their cooking, the ingredient that constitutes baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is naturally derived and has been used since antiquity. Baking soda is acceptable to use on the Paleo diet in moderation, so bake on (and read on to learn more about the wonders of this diverse kitchen staple)!

Nutritional Value of Baking Soda

Serving size: 1/2 teaspoon (2g)

  • Calories: 0
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 616 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Vitamin A: 0%
  • Vitamin C: 0%
  • Calcium: 0%
  • Iron: 0%

Benefits of Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has the chemical structure NaHCO3, making it an alkaline (basic) ingredient. When mixed with acidic ingredients, sodium bicarbonate undergoes an acid-base chemical reaction which releases bubbles of carbon dioxide that form little air pockets in dough when batter is mixed. This process, known as leavening, is an important chemical reaction in baking, as it facilitates breads to rise, and imparts a light and airy quality to dough and finished baked goods. Because this acid-base reaction occurs within a matter of minutes, keep in mind that if you leave your mixed batter on the counter for a long time before baking, the carbon dioxide bubbles will escape and leave your batter flat.

The natural form of baking soda (known as nahcolite which is derived from the mineral natron) has been used since antiquity for cleaning and medicinal purposes, due to its odor- and acid-neutralizing properties. In the 1800s, people began to manufacture the white powder that is commonly known as baking soda from soda ash treated with carbon dioxide.

Baking soda is a common household staple owing to its diversity of uses which include everything from baking to cleaning, to medicinal uses, to extinguishing fires, and more! Baking soda is a strong absorbent of odors and moisture. Due to its odor-inhibiting properties, we see it in many deodorizers, as well as in the back of many refrigerators. Baking soda is also a mild abrasive, and is an effective cleaning agent for teeth, cookware, counters, and several other household items.

Commercial baking soda is considered safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and has no known toxicity or carcinogenicity when consumed within recommended amounts. As with anything, overdoses can lead to toxicity and people should always avoid consuming excessive amounts.

Where to Buy Baking Soda and How to Store Baking Soda

Baking soda is available in the baking aisle of most major grocery stores. Baking soda is naturally gluten-free, although it’s possible that cross contamination could occur in some processing facilities. For this reason, we recommend that you purchase a certified gluten-free baking soda to use in your cooking, like this one.

Be sure to check the expiration date on your package of baking soda, because it does lose its potency over time which can adversely affect the outcome of baked goods. Instead of throwing away expired baking soda, try using it for cleaning pots and pans! Don’t use the box of baking soda that’s sitting in the back of your refrigerator for baking, because it has likely absorbed the various odors from your fridge. Store baking soda used for cooking away from strong spices and odors, heat, and moisture.  You should replace the baking soda that you use for cooking every 2-3 months, but well-stored baking soda can be used for cleaning purposes for 2-3 years.

Is Baking Soda Paleo?

Baking soda and baking powder are two different leavening agents commonly used in baked goods to make dough rise, but they should not be confused with one another. In short, baking soda IS considered Paleo, while commercial baking powder is NOT. This is because baking powder frequently contains cornstarch and other unfavorable ingredients (like gluten and aluminum) that aren’t Paleo, whereas baking soda is 100% pure sodium bicarbonate. While they are not generally interchangeable in recipes, baking soda can be used as a substitution for baking powder when other acidic ingredients (such as cream of tartar) are added.

Kinsey Jackson

Kinsey Jackson, LMP, MS, CNS® is a clinical nutritionist specializing in functional and evolutionary nutrition. Her own experience of overcoming multiple autoimmune disorders by adopting a Paleo lifestyle vastly contributes to her passion for helping others to also reclaim their health and vitality by making informed dietary decisions.