Sake is fermented rice, and since rice is not strictly Paleo, sake would appear to be off the Paleo menu as well, but it’s not that simple.
Paleo and grains
Paleo and Fermentation
When it comes to sake, the fact that it is fermented does not immediately discredit it as a Paleo-unfriendly choice. Fermentation is a natural process that happens in the wild. Animals have been known to seek out fermenting fruit and it is reasonable to assume that our ancestors did the same. However, alcoholic beverages such as sake contain much more alcohol than we would ever encounter in the wild, so drinking one glass after another is still not recommended.
“New Sake” v. “Mature Sake”
Not all sake is created equal, though. There is “new sake” and “mature sake”. Mature sake has been aged in cedar barrels for nine to twelve months and this process may confer certain health benefits to the sake. It is believed that whiskey and brandy acquire their antioxidant content from the wood barrels they are aged in, so it is probable that sake receives the same benefits. The main difference is that whiskey and brandy are usually aged for multiple years, whereas sake is only aged for up to one year.
Sake is probably one of the least harmful alcoholic beverages out there, but since it doesn’t have any clear benefits, we recommend keeping it to the occasional treat, rather than a daily habit.
For more information on the pros and cons of alcohol, check out this post by Mark Sisson.