Foods Allowed on the Paleo Diet

Chicken in a frying pan with tomatoes, spinach leaves, and olives
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These are the foods that are recommended to approximate a Paleo 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 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.


Vegetables are encouraged, although some versions of the diet exclude 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. Some Paleo eaters will eat sweet potatoes and some other tubers but still avoid white potatoes.


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.

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.


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.


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 occasional diet beverage is probably okay.

That's pretty much it for the foods allowed on the Paleo Diet. Also be sure to check out the foods which are forbidden on paleo.

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