What are the Foods on the Paleo Diet?

You may have seen the news. The paleo diet is portrayed with cavemen eating meat—lots of meat. Perhaps that is an exaggeration for the sake of news program ratings, but yes, the Paleo diet does include meat. It also includes LOTS of other foods!

So, what does the paleo diet consist of? What is on the Paleo Diet Food List?

Yep, lots of vegetables. Beets, turnips, parsnips, radish, spinach, lettuce, kale, beet top, mustard greens, collard greens, jerusalem artichokes, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, buttercup squash, dandelion, watercress, turnip greens, seaweeds, bok choy, swiss chard, endive, arugula (rocket) , radicchio, rapini, chicory, brussels sprouts, artichokes, okra, avocados, carrots, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, yellow summer squash, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, celery, onions, green onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, eggplants, asparagus, cucumber and cabbage. To name a few.

Grapes, cantaloupe, cherries, apricot, bananas, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, apples, oranges, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, papaya, watermelon, honeydew melon, kiwi, lychee, coconut, mango, figs, dates, persimmon, passion fruit, berries (strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranates, and pineapple.

sweet-spicy-nut-mix-smNuts and seeds
Pecans, walnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds.

Fresh and dried herbs
Your meals will be far tastier with parsley, thyme, basil, tarragon, chives, oregano, sage, dill, bay leaves, coriander, lavender, mint, and rosemary.

Spices and other natural flavor enhancers
Add vanilla, garlic, cloves, chilies, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, onions, black pepper, hot peppers, star anise, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and ginger.

Go for the earthy yumminess of oyster mushroom, chanterelle, porcini,button mushroom, morel, crimini, shiitake and portabello, among others.

To get the right kinds of fat in your diet, take coconut flesh, nut butters, coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, lard, tallow, duck fat, veal fat, lamb fat, fatty fishes (mackerel, salmon, sardines), nut oils (walnut, macadamia), avocado oil and avocados.

cooked-beef-steak-with-vegetables-smAnimal Protein
Naturally, your Paleo diet would not be complete without a good bit of animal protein.

There’s pork, rabbit, goat, sheep, woodcock, elk, rabbit, reindeer, wild boar, bear, moose, deer, bison/buffalo, veal, beef, lamb, horse and pheasant.

Or try mussels, crab, scallops, oysters, clams, chicken eggs, quail eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs, salmon, tuna, sole, haddock, turbot, trout, bass, halibut, cod, flatfish, grouper, walleye, tilapia, mackerel, anchovy, herring, lobster, shrimps, turkey, duck, quail, goose, wild turkey and chicken.

Even bacon, sausage, and smoked meats are fine. Just make sure all of your meats are from appropriately raised animals, and that the packaged meats contain no weird additives like nitrates/nitrites or weird chemical preservatives.

What should you leave off the list?

Most importantly, keep grains and legumes like wheat, rice and soy as far from your mouth as possible. Dairy is “Primal” – not Paleo – and vegetable oils like soy oil and corn oil are inflammatory. Refined sugar is hard on your blood sugar and doesn’t contain any nutrients, so keep it at a bare minimum. Anything in a box is probably not going to be very Paleo, so shop on the outer edges of the grocery store and you should be safe!

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  1. Juan

    Can you eat corn tortillas when on the paleo diet?

    • Neely Quinn

      Juan – corn is a grain and a lot of people have issues with it. It’s not Paleo – sorry.

  2. Donna Salute

    I have been on the diet for ten days an I have lost 9lb. Love the diet makes HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.Thank you…

  3. Jay

    I’ve been on the diet for a week now and just when I though it would also be exercising, BAM it was the dairy, dropped 11Ibs in one week….Epic

  4. cynthia

    Sounds good, what about oatmeal ?

    • Neely

      Cynthia – Oatmeal, dried beans, and brown rice are grains or legumes, so they’re off the Paleo diet technically.

  5. cynthia

    Sounds good, what about oatmeal & dried beans,brown rice ? my husband is asian, not sure we can go with out the rice completely!

  6. Karen

    Have a look at this article: http://www.paleoplan.com/2012/06-28/can-a-vegetarian-or-vegan-be-paleo/ one our of expert Nutritionists wrote. If you need more information, you can email directly info@paleoplan.com and they can answer any further questions.

  7. Anonymous

    what about potatoes???

    • Kinsey Jackson

      Hi! Check out our blog post on “Are Potatoes Paleo?”, which will hopefully answer your questions about whether or not you should eat potatoes. The short answer is, it depends on the person. Let us know if the article doesn’t answer all of your questions…there are also a couple of great links at the end of the post to more info.

      Best regards,
      Kinsey Jackson, MS, CN

  8. Josh

    Been on this diet for a couple weeks is milk okay? And what about pasta?

  9. Wanda

    What if you had gastric bypass and if you gag on cooked veggies can you eat some raw? I can’t eat much of anything and I have lost over 115 pounds and now my thyroid is not acting right I have to take meds for that but still feel fatigued and lots of brain fog and memory loss and I have fibromyalgia and lupus I have severe chronic pain and back pain and nerve damage with neuropathy pain as well from a car accident . I truly hate veggies cooked but if I try to eat salad which I love I get severe stomach pains and issues what can I do?

    • Aimee McNew

      Hi Wanda,

      If raw veggies are problematic for digestion, ask your nutritionist about digestive enzymes, which can help to make vegetables easier on the stomach. Try sticking to more easily digested raw vegetables, like romaine and cucumber, and avoid broccoli and cruciferous ones for now which, when raw, can be harder to digest without certain enzymes. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot! I wish you well on your continued health journey.

  10. carmel kirkpatrick

    are sweet potatoes n white potatoes allowed on,paleo

    • Aimee McNew


      Yes, sweet potatoes and white potatoes are both Paleo friendly. They should be eaten in moderation by anyone who has diabetes or blood sugar issues, or who needs to lose weight.

  11. carmel kirkpatrick

    what abouit dark chocolate or lillys dark sugarless chocolate

    • Aimee McNew


      Some dark chocolate is definitely Paleo friendly: look for at least 80% dark, with no soy lecithin. I like Alter Eco: http://www.alterecofoods.com/product/dark-blackout/

      Lily’s dark chocolate unfortunately has both corn and soy in it, meaning it’s definitely not Paleo friendly.

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