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Foods Allowed on the Paleolithic (Paleo Diet, Caveman Diet)

What to Eat on a Paleolithic Diet

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Updated April 01, 2014

Paleolithic Diet

by Loren Cordain

Image Courtesy of Pricegrabber
These are the foods that are recommended to approximate a Paleolithic Diet. Note that authors disagree on a few details. I am in the process of revising this list to reflect the evolving thinking on this topic, but it's not my goal to comprehensively list the ideas of the growing number of authors on the subject. One thing that these authors agree on is that there is no way that we can exactly replicate the food of the Paleolithic period, so substitutions must be made in some cases. This accounts for many of the differing choices of the authors.

Meats and Eggs

Meats (including seafood) and eggs are perhaps the most important components of the Paleolithic Diet. Ideally, the animals from which the eggs and meat come from are fed a natural (to the animal) organic diet. That is, chickens have access to greens, insects, etc, as well as grain. Cattle eat grass and other pasture greenery. Fish should come from the wild, or at least be fed what wild fish eat. In any case, meats should be free of breading of any kind.

Loren Cordain (The Paleo Diet) believes we should seek out low-fat meat sources, while others disagree. His reasoning is that today's meats are much higher in saturated fat so we should seek out low fat meats and then supplement with fats from other sources.

Resources:

High Protein Food List

Cuts of Meat Low in Saturated Fats

Eggs Really ARE Incredible! - Nutrition, cooking, recipes

All About Salmon - Nutrition, selection, farmed vs wild, how to cook

Vegetables

Vegetables are encouraged, although some versions of the diet except green beans and peas as they are legumes. Some versions simply say that if it can't be eaten raw, don't eat it (though this doesn't mean that it must be eaten raw, only that it should be able to be eaten raw). Potatoes and other starchy tubers (e.g. cassava) is an area of varying opinions.

Resources:

Low Carb Vegetable List

10 Tips for Easy Vegetable Preparation

Green Leafy Vegetables: Nutritional Powerhouses

How to Cook Greens

Fruits

Fruits are generally allowed. Some advise that people who need to lose weight should limit consumption of high sugar fruits, especially dried fruit and juices. Some say everyone should limit these.

Resources:

Low Carb Fruit List

Healthy, Nutritious Berries

Fruits and Vegetables with Lowest and Highest Pesticide Levels

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are generally allowed, though Cordain suggests that those who want to lose weight limit them to four ounces per day. Note that peanuts are legumes and NOT allowed. Some don't allow cashews, since they can't be eaten raw. Unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk are often used as substitutes for dairy.

Resources:

Almond Flour/Almond Meal - what it is, where to get it, etc.

Flax Seeds and Flax Seed Meal - Nutrition, health benefits, storage, etc.

Oils

Though authors vary on recommended oils, basically the consensus seems to be that the oils from allowed plants are fine. Olive oil and nut oils including coconut oil are generally encouraged (Cordain recommends canola oil, but not coconut oil). Fish oil supplements are often recommended.

Beverages

No surprise that water is encouraged, and generally tea is considered to be fine. Beyond that, there is some variation as to advice about coffee and alcohol. Of course, sweet beverages (whether sweetened by sugars or artificial sweeteners) are pretty much out, though Cordain feels the occasionally diet beverage is probably OK.

Foods Forbidden on Paleo Diets

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