Paleo Diet Food List

Here is a guide what to eat and what not to eat on the Paleo diet food list. It’s by no means a complete list of every possible Paleo-approved item, but will give you a comprehensive starting point for most readily-available foods.

Paleo Diet Food List
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

The aim of the Paleo diet is to mimic how our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate before agriculture started more than 10,000 years ago.   It’s not about trying to recreate the caveman period, it’s about taking inspiration from how they lived.  There is plenty of modern medical and scientific research to validate the diet.

The basic premise of the Paleo diet is that if our paleolithic ancestors could hunt or gather it, then it is allowed on the diet.  The focus is on eating whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.  It eliminates processed foods, grains, legumes, unhealthy oils, refined sugar and most dairy.  Some followers do include healthy dairy foods such as yoghurt and butter in their diet.  

Paleo is more a set of guidelines rather than strict rules and is all about how your body reacts after eating particular foods.

At-A-Glance Paleo Food List

Here’s a quick guide to what’s generally considered Paleo and what’s not. 

What To Eat

  • Grass-fed meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats

What Not To Eat

  • Processed foods
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Refined sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Processed vegetable oils and fats

Detailed Paleo Food List

What To Eat

Vegetables:

Paleo is all about eating lots of fresh vegetables.  This is really the foundation of the diet.  Vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fibre as well as being delicious and adding lots of variety to your diet. 

Some of the best veggies are:

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • Salad leaves (lettuce, endive, rocket (arugula), radicchio)
  • Asian greens (bok choy)
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Eggplant (aubergine)
  • Avocado
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Cassava
  • Yam
  • Taro
  • Capsicums (peppers)
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Beetroot (beets)
  • Radish
  • Seaweed
  • Herbs

Fruits:

Fruit can be a good way to satisfy those sweet cravings.  Be mindful that many fruits are high in sugar and so should be eaten in moderation.  Choose mostly low sugar fruit and berries.

Some good fruits:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, loganberries)
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Grapefruit
  • Tangerines
  • Coconuts
  • Melons (cantaloupe (rock melon), honeydew melon, watermelon)

Proteins:

Protein is essential to the body for growth and maintenance and is an important building block for bones, muscle, skin and blood.  While protein is an important part of the Paleo diet, it doesn’t mean eating meat all day!  Go for grass-fed, free range meat as this provides higher levels of nutrients because of the animal’s more natural diet. 

Meats:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Goat
  • Veal
  • Duck
  • Rabbit
  • Venison

Poultry:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Quail
  • Pheasant

Fish and Seafood (wild caught and sustainable is preferred):

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Anchovy
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Bass
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Prawns (shrimp)
  • Scallops
  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Squid
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Clams

Eggs (free range, pasture raised):

  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Quail

Nuts and Seeds:

Nuts, seeds and their butters are highly nutritious but should be consumed in moderation as they contain phytic acid and enzyme which can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some nutrients.  Activating nuts and seeds by soaking them and then dehydrating them can make them easier to digest.

Try these:

  • Almonds, almond butter and almond milk
  • Cashews, cashew butter
  • Macadamias
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Coconut
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hemp seeds

Fats and Oils:

Fat is an essential part of the Paleo diet. Go for fats and oils that have not been highly processed and refined:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut cream and full-fat coconut milk
  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Tahini
  • Duck fat
  • Lard
  • Tallow
  • Fish oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee

Condiments:

Read labels to check for added sugar, preservatives or other chemicals added.

Check out:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red and white wine vinegar
  • Fish sauce
  • Mustard
  • Tomato paste
  • Coconut aminos
  • Capers

Baking and Cooking Ingredients:

Paleo versions of baked goods are delicious but should be eaten as an occasional treat, not every day.  When you want to get baking use these:

  • Almond meal and flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Tapioca starch
  • Banana flour
  • Hemp flour
  • Cacao powder and nibs

Drinks:

Keep well hydrated with these drinks:

  • Water
  • Sparkling water (plain)
  • Coconut water
  • Bone broth
  • Black coffee (in moderation)
  • Black tea (in moderation)
  • Herbal tea
  • Green tea
  • Kombucha
  • Water kefir
  • Wine (in moderation)

What Not To Eat

Grains: 

All grains, even gluten-free grains and all products made with these grains are not allowed.

Grains include:

  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Spelt
  • Millet
  • Sorghum

Legumes:  

Legumes contain large amounts of lectins and phytic acid which bind to nutrients in the food and prevent you from absorbing them.  They are difficult for many people to digest. 

Legumes include:

  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Soy beans and products (tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, miso)
  • Lentils
  • Beans (kidney beans, lima beans, white beans, red beans, black beans)
  • Peanuts and peanut butter

Refined vegetable oils and fats:

These are not really made from vegetables (maybe it seems healthier that way).  These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids which are inflammatory and relatively low in omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory.

Vegetable oils include:

  • Canola (rapeseed) oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Margarine and other spreads made with these oils
  • Corn oil
  • Grapeseed oil

Refined sugar and sweeteners:

This does not refer to the naturally occurring sugar found in whole fruits but the refined and artificial sugars found in most processed foods. 

Sweeteners to avoid include:

  • Cane sugar (white, brown, raw)
  • Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, aspartame, Equal)
  • Corn syrup of any sort
  • Agave
  • Dextrose
  • Malt syrup
  • Rice syrup

Processed foods:

Tinned foods are mostly acceptable but make sure to read ingredients list for non-Paleo additives such as sugar. 

As a general rule avoid anything with a list of ingredients, especially if some of them are numbers!

Avoid processed foods such as:

  • Bread
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits and cookies
  • Pasta
  • Fruit juice
  • Sugary drinks
  • Most packaged foods

What’s In The Grey Area

Dairy:  

Whilst some people feel much better without any dairy products at all, others have no issues and so include some dairy such as cheese, kefir, full fat yoghurt, cream and butter in their diet.   If you’re new to Paleo it is good idea to avoid all forms of dairy foods including butter and ghee for 30 days to see what effect it has on your body.  You may find you have some sensitivity that you weren’t even aware of until you eliminate it.

Pseudograins: 

Seeds such as quinoa, chia, buckwheat and amaranth are not technically grains but can be used in a similar way.  They contain similar antinutrients to grains and legumes including phytates and saponins although the amounts tend to be lower.  Good preparation of soaking overnight, then rinsing and cooking well will help to remove these digestive enzyme inhibitors.  When starting on Paleo avoid these for 30 days then introduce slowly and in small amounts to see if they cause you an issue.

Natural Sweeteners:

Not all sweeteners are banned, however many Paleo followers avoid all sweeteners.  Remember that these are all high in fructose and therefore must only be used occasionally.

Some sweeteners which can be used sparingly:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar