The Ultimate Paleo Diet Food List [+Infographics]
Eating Paleo is actually pretty simple.
Eat foods that our caveman ancestors might have eaten 1,000,000 years ago. But as simple as that sounds, it’s not always obvious whether a food existed that long ago.
And more importantly, that’s only a starting point. It makes sense that a food will probably be safe and healthy if it has been eaten for a million years, but newer foods definitely could also be healthy.
So to make going Paleo as easy as possible, I’ve put together this Paleo Diet Food List.
Use the table of contents below to help you navigate through this comprehensive list of Paleo foods. I hope it helps you quickly and easily determine which foods should be added into (or deleted from) your diet.
Table of Contents – Paleo Diet Food List
- Paleo Diet Food List Infographic
- 3 Things to Keep In Mind About This Paleo Diet Food List
- How Much Carbs, Protein, and Fat Should You Eat On A Paleo Diet?
- Paleo Diet Food List Video
- Foods you can eat as much as you want of
- Foods you should eat just a little bit of
- Foods you should not eat at all
Paleo Diet Food List Infographic
Feel free to put this on your website – please just link back to our page here (https://paleoflourish.com/paleo-diet-food-list) to credit us for this infographic.
3 Things to Keep In Mind About This Paleo Diet Food List
- Other Paleo food lists might be different. Many lists haven’t been updated in ages, so they rely on outdated science and myth. This list is based on the most up-to-date understanding of each of these foods.Even so, it’s certainly possible to disagree that certain foods should or should not be eaten on a Paleo diet. For instance, potatoes are a big source of disagreement (Loren Cordain says no to them in his book, The Paleo Diet, but many other Paleo experts now think potatoes are not all that different to sweet potatoes). You’re never going to get complete agreement, but this list of foods to eat on a Paleo diet is an excellent place to start.
- This list should be customized for your particular body and life. If you’re diabetic and severely obese, then you probably shouldn’t be eating hardly any potatoes, sweet potatoes, or anything else that spikes your blood sugar, at least not until you get your blood sugar under control. On the other hand, if you’re 25 years old and incredibly active, you might need to eat a lot more sweet potato and taro.
- If you have specific goals, specific allergies, or specific diseases, then one or more of these foods may not make sense. If you want to lose weight, cut out almost all nuts for a while. If you’ve got irritable bowel syndrome, even berries may not be a good idea. And if you have autoimmune conditions, then you might need to avoid a lot of Paleo diet foods (including eggs, nuts, seeds, peppers and other nightshades). Those sorts of personalized plans are not covered in this list because there are just too many possibilities.
How Much Carbs, Protein, and Fat Should You Eat On A Paleo Diet?
This is a very common question we get, and from an ancestral perspective, it’s really hard to say.
Some tribes like the Kitavans ate a diet high in carbs (mostly from vegetables like tubers). Then the Inuits ate a diet that was very low in carbs and high in animal fats (as they had little access to vegetables for parts of the year). Both groups of people are considered healthier than most people in the Western world today.
So, how do we sort through this confusion?
We agree with Mark Sisson that the first step should be to assess how much protein you need. The exact amount depends on your lean body mass and whether you’re looking to build or maintain muscle. But on average, you probably should be getting around 30% of your calories from protein.
The Paleo diet is often considered to be a low carb diet, and that’s probably because once you cut out all the sugar and grains from your diet, you’ll naturally be eating fewer carbs. In general, most people find that they naturally eat under 100 grams of carbohydrates per day on a Paleo diet (mostly through eating vegetables), although if you have blood sugar issues or want to lose weight, then you may want to go lower.
And then the rest of your diet is made up of healthy Paleo fats (we list them all below).
Make sure you eat a HEALTHY Paleo diet
While being a Paleo diet generally makes you eat much healthier food than on a Standard American Diet (SAD), you can still eat junk on Paleo.
It can be easy to stuff your face with macadamia nuts or almond flour cookies daily. Another mistakes many people make is slathering butter on everything or only eating meat.
While macadamia nuts, butter, almond flour cookies, and meats are all foods on a Paleo diet, it doesn’t mean eating only those things is healthy.
Vegetables play a huge part in a Paleo diet. So make sure to add plenty of veggies into diet.
Paleo Diet Food List Video
Prefer watching videos? Here is a video I put together covering many of the foods on this list:
EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT OF THESE PALEO FOODS
Pretty much all vegetables are Paleo. Just remember that grains like corn, wheat, and rice are NOT vegetables.
Mushrooms (All Kinds)
Peppers (All Kinds)
Yellow Summer Squash
Most fruits are different than they were a million years ago, but some are healthier than others. Here are the best.
Every meat is Paleo, but quality makes a difference. Buy grass-fed, wild, and pastured when applicable and possible. Also, ignore any sites that tell you to eat only lean meats – that advice is based on 20-year old research and beliefs. If you have trouble getting good quality meats in the US, then check out US Wellness Meats here and get it delivered to your door!
Also, while chicken is included in this “meats” category, please don’t just eat chicken as your protein! Eat a variety of meats (including organ meats and fish and seafood) to ensure you get all your nutrients.
In the United States, organ meats have fallen out of favor, but there is no other category of food that is as nutritious. Eat any of the following from pretty much any animal. Again, US Wellness Meats can send these to your door in the US if you have trouble finding them.
Almost all legumes are off limits, but green beans and peas are actually still in seed form and fine to eat.
If you want know why legumes aren’t considered Paleo, then check out this article, 10 Reasons to Avoid Eating Legumes. And if you want to find out with green beans and peas are the only legumes that are good to eat on a Paleo diet, then check out this article here.
Pay particular attention to the oils that you cook in. These can make a huge difference in your overall health.
Butter (if you tolerate dairy)
Walnut Oil (small amounts)
Sesame Oil (small amounts)
This is something that mainstream health has always gotten right. Fish is highly nutritious, but buy wild-caught fish whenever possible.
Salmon (including smoked salmon)
Shellfish and other Seafood
Apart from organ meats, shellfish is the most nutrient-dense food you can eat. Often expensive, but worth it.
Other Paleo Foods
These foods do not neatly fall into any other category, but you should eat them at will.
Eggs (of any animal)
Spices (check ingredients for blends)
Herbs (check ingredients for blends)
Vinegars (check ingredients)
Gluten-Free Tamari Sauce or Coconut Aminos
EAT THESE FOODS, BUT NOT TOO MUCH
There isn’t anything wrong with the following vegetables, but it’s easy to eat too much of them. The more active you are, the less you need to worry about avoiding these vegetables.
These fruits are still Paleo, but you should eat them only occasionally as they’re much higher in sugar.
Nuts and Seeds
Humans have also always eaten nuts and seeds, but like fruits, you shouldn’t go wild, since humans rarely had access to plentiful supplies of nuts and seeds.
Raw or Fermented Dairy
This is a special category. You should eliminate these foods for at least a month, then reintroduce them to see how they make you feel.
Raw, unpasteurized milk
Raw honey, Maple Syrup, and Coconut Sugar are OK, but don’t overeat these! In the end, there’s not a huge difference between the various sugars, so try to avoid them all if possible.
Other Potentially Paleo Foods
These foods cause some people more problems than others, so it’s best to eliminate them for a while, then test out how they make you feel, and only ever consume them in very small amounts.
Dark Chocolate (> 85%)
Fermented foods (e.g., Kombucha, Coconut Kefir, Kimchi, Natto)
Dried Fruits (small amounts)
Fruit Juices (small amounts)
Cacao Powder (unsweetened)
AVOID THESE FOODS
If a food has added sugar in any form, try to avoid it. Some of these sweeteners are better than others, but the simplest and healthiest route is just to forgo them all.
Any Diet or Sugary Soda
Vegetable and Seed Oils
There are few things that will derail your health as much as these oils. With so many healthy oils to choose from (above), make sure to avoid these.
Grains are not evil, but they’re very low in nutrients and relatively high in toxins. It’s best to skip them all. Note that even some foods labeled “gluten-free” will contain grains so check the ingredients! White rice is often considered OK in small amounts if you are fairly athletic and healthy and don’t have blood sugar issues or don’t need to lose weight.
While raw and fermented dairy has some redeeming qualities, these highly-processed forms of dairy should be avoided.
Milk (other than raw)
Of all the things on the list of foods to avoid, beans are the least bad. Still, there’s not a whole lot of reason to eat them, and if you have digestive issues or are trying to lose weight, you’ll do much better without these in your diet. Note – avoid peanut and soy products regardless.
All Processed Foods
This is a catch-all, but an important one.
If it doesn’t look like it was recently part of a plant or animal, don’t eat it. While there are exceptions to this rule, it’s best to stick to the rule for as long as possible.
Other Foods to Avoid
For optimal health, also avoid the following:
Alcohol (including beer, wine, and spirits)
Pseudo-grains (including buckwheat and quinoa)
The Short Paleo Diet Food List Infographic
If you need something to pin to remind you what to eat on Paleo, then here it is – pin away!
And here are some Paleo recipes for each category in the above infographic.
Paleo Recipes with Meat
Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Blackcurrant Glaze
Grilled Pork Belly with Chimichurri
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Baked Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken
Paleo Recipes with Vegetables
Easy Morning Green Smoothie
Paleo Fried Zucchini
Zucchini Noodles with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce
Cilantro Roasted Potatoes
Paleo Recipes with Seafood
Lemon Basil Shrimp
Crispy Skin Sous Vide Salmon
Shrimp Scampi with Beet Noodles
Smoked Salmon and Veggie Frittata
Paleo Recipes with Fruit
Mini Blueberry Galettes
Coconut Water Fruit Popsicles
Tropical Green Smoothie Bowl
Paleo Recipes with Nuts
Honey Chipotle Snack Mix
Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Spread (AKA Homemade Nutella!)
Macadamia Crusted Halibut
Paleo Recipes with Seeds
Sesame Fish Cakes
Triple Chocolate Chia Pudding
Thank you for this easy list to pass on to others. I am just starting on this journey and not at all an “expert” but I am a believer. Many just think it is another diet or fad. Some see it as a low carb thing. This clear article will be a good conversation starter as well as a reminder for me about why I am doing this in the first place. Thank you!