The Complete Paleo Food List

Here at PaleoPlan, we believe that you should have a simple guide to help you easily say “yes” or “no” to certain foods. In addition to our Paleo diet food list, you should also consider using our free Paleo recipes, or try our Paleo Meal Plan free for 14 days.

The PaleoPlan meal plan makes following a Paleo diet really easy, since your menus, recipes, shopping lists, and even prep notes are all laid out for you.

In general, eating Paleo means eating veggies, fruits, meats, fish, certain fats, nuts, and seeds. It means removing grains (breads, pastas, rice, etc), beans, soy, dairy, certain vegetable oils, and refined sugar from your diet. But you probably want more details than that, right?

Below, you’ll find our complete Paleo Food List. This is a list of foods and to what extent they are accepted as Paleo. Our guidelines are created using a mixture of all of the Paleo gurus’ philosophies and research, our own beliefs, and what is realistic to implement in your daily life.

For all of the foods listed, our hope is that you choose the highest quality that you can afford, i.e. grass-fed and pastured meats when available instead of conventional meats, as well as organic and local produce when it is an option.

Quick-Start Paleo Food List

While we go into more detail below, here is a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Meats: most kinds, ideally pasture-raised or grass-fed, including organ meats
  • Seafood: most kinds, ideally wild-caught
  • Vegetables: any kind, ideally organic and local
  • Eggs: any kind, ideally pasture-raised or free-range
  • Fruit: any kind, all in moderation, ideally organic
  • Nuts and seeds: all kinds, in moderation, ideally organic and with no added oils
  • Certain oils and fats: mainly saturated and monounsaturated fats (few polyunsaturated fats), ideally organic and unrefined

Foods to Avoid

Before we dive into the enormous list of food that you can enjoy on a Paleo diet, here are the basics of what you should avoid.

Grains

No grains are Paleo, even gluten-free grains. All grains should be eliminated when adopting a Paleo diet. This includes, but not limited to:

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Sorghum
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Spelt

This includes all products made with these ingredients such as flours, pastas, breads, cakes, cookies, bagels, muffins, tortillas, chips, and the like.

Learn more: Why No Grains and Legumes

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes aren’t Paleo because they’re difficult to digest, similar to grains. Beans and legumes include, but are not limited to:

  • Soy (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soy lecithin)
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Red beans
  • Peanuts
  • White beans
  • Garbanzo beans

Peas and green beans are acceptable, even though sometimes they’re categorized as legumes.

Learn more: Are Green Beans and Snow Peas Paleo?

Dairy

dairy

We know it’s a bummer for most to hear that dairy isn’t Paleo, but most people struggle to digest it but don’t notice till they actually take a step away from it.

These forms of dairy are not Paleo, including:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Sour cream
  • Dairy creamer
  • Buttermilk
  • Powdered milk

The only exceptions that are allowable on most Paleo diets are butter and ghee. However, these should still only be consumed if you know you’re not sensitive to them. If you’re brand new to Paleo, we recommend at least 30 days away from all forms of dairy, including butter and ghee.

Learn more: Is Grass-Fed Butter Paleo?

High Omega-6 Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils aren’t really made from vegetables, which is why we’re still really confused how they came upon that name. They are usually made from junk oils that really aren’t fit for human consumption. These oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation (as opposed to omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory). They are debatably one of the major causes of heart disease, and are basically junk oils. While saturated fat remains demonized by mainstream nutrition, it really isn’t the culprit in poor health. These omega-6, junky oils are far more devastating for long-term health.

Vegetable oils to avoid include, but are not limited to:

  • Butter alternatives
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Crisco
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Margarine
  • Palm oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Shortening
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Vegetable oil

Learn more: The Complete Guide to Saturated Fat

Refined Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

Basically, on a Paleo diet, you want to avoid all added sugars except for the few that are Paleo friendly. Sugar doesn’t refer to naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, but rather added sugars that are found in many processed foods.

Added sugars and sweeteners to avoid include, but are not limited to:

  • Cane sugar
  • Cane syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Agave
  • Corn syrup (in any form, including high-fructose)
  • Glucose syrup (another name for corn syrup)
  • Dextrose or anything ending in “-ose”
  • Malt syrup
  • Splenda
  • Aspartame
  • Equal
  • Truvia
  • Sucralose

Too much sugar can make you gain weight and feel lethargic, but it can also strongly affect your mood and wellbeing. It’s not fun to take it out of your diet, and you will have cravings for it. But if you can make it through the first few days, it will get better every day from there.

Learn more: 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating Sugar for 30 Days (or Longer)

Iodized Table Salt

Table salt is common, but it is actually a highly refined product that is missing its natural nutrients. Instead of iodized table salt, eat sea salt instead.

Many types of table salt contain preservatives, anti-caking agents, and other chemicals. Avoid refined salts and regular table salts, because the refining process removes precious trace minerals while introducing chemical additives. Instead, opt for a natural, unrefined salt for a more intense flavor as well as extra trace minerals.

In contrast, unrefined salts are essential for good health and include all varieties of rock and sea salt that have not been stripped of minerals or had other ingredients added. Natural, unrefined sea salt provides a number of nutrients and minerals, in a form that the body recognizes and can use.

Learn more: The Detailed Guide to Dietary Salt

Processed, Hydrogenated, and Refined Foods

There’s a lot of gray area here, but in general, if you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label of a food, it’s probably not Paleo. Avoid all foods containing “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” ingredients.

Learn more: 22 Swaps to Make Your Next Meal More Paleo

Certain Seafoods

All species of seafood are totally Paleo, but you will want to avoid certain kinds of larger predatory fish because they have been alive for many years and accumulate heavy metals, like mercury, in their bodies. These primarily include:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish

Learn more: Is Fish Paleo?

Foods to Eat on a Paleo Diet

paleo diet foods

The Paleo diet is rich in nutrients and plenty of variety, so you don’t ever have to be bored or hungry! While it does take some getting used to, with the right tools, you’ll be a Paleo pro in no time.

Proteins

Anchovies
Bacon
Bass
Beef
Beef liver
Bison
Chicken
Chicken eggs
Chicken liver
Clams
Cod
Deer
Duck
Duck eggs
Elk
Emu
Goat
Goose
Haddock
Halibut
Ham
Lamb
Ostrich
Oysters
Pheasant
Pork
Quail
Rabbit
Salmon
Sardines
Scallops
Shellfish, all kinds
Shrimp
Snapper
Sole
Tilapia
Trout
Tuna
Turkey
Veal
Venison

Learn more: Paleo Cooking 101: How to Cook Meat Like a Pro

Vegetables and Fruits

fruits and vegetables

Algaes
Apples, all kinds
Apricots
Artichoke
Arugula
Asparagus
Avocado
Bananas
Beets
Beet greens
Bell peppers
Blackberries
Blueberries
Bok choy
Broccoli
Broccoli raab
Broccolini
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chard
Cherries
Coconut
Collard greens
Cranberries
Cucumber
Dandelion greens
Dates
Eggplant
Endive
Figs
Garlic
Grapefruit
Grapes
Green beans
Herbs, all kinds
Honeydew
Kale
Kelp
Kiwifruit
Kohlrabi
Kombu
Kumquats
Leeks
Lemons
Lettuces, all kinds
Limes
Mangoes
Mushrooms
Nectarines
Olives
Onions, all kinds
Oranges
Papaya
Parsnips
Passionfruit
Peaches
Pears
Persimmon
Pineapple
Plums
Pomegranate
Radicchio
Radish
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Sea vegetables, all kinds
Seaweeds
Snow peas
Spinach
Squash, all kinds
Star fruit
Strawberries
Sugar snap peas
Sweet peas
Sweet peppers
Sweet potatoes
Tangelos
Tangerines
Tomatillos
Tomatoes
Turnips
Wakame
Watercress
Watermelon
White potatoes
Zucchini

Learn more: How to Start Eating Vegetables (When You Don’t Like Them)

Nuts and Seeds and Their Products

Almonds
Almond butter (unsweetened)
Almond milk (unsweetened)
Brazil nuts
Cashews
Cashew butter (unsweetened)
Chestnuts
Chia seeds
Coconut
Flaxseeds
Hazelnuts
Hemp hearts
Macadamia nuts
Pecans
Pine nuts
Pistachios
Pumpkin seeds
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Sunflower butter (unsweetened)
Walnuts

Learn more: The Food Lover’s Guide to Paleo Snacks

Fats and Oils

avocado oil

Avocado oil
Coconut oil
Coconut cream
Coconut milk, full fat
Duck fat
Flaxseed oil
Ghee
Hempseed oil
Lard
Macadamia oil
Olive oil, extra virgin
Paleo mayonnaise
Tallow
Walnut oil

Learn more: Have a Change of Heart About Cholesterol: Cholesterol Is Healthy

Sweeteners

Coconut nectar
Coconut sugar
Date sugar
Honey, raw
Maple sugar
Maple syrup, grade B
Molasses
Stevia leaf, pure

Learn more: Paleo Sweeteners 101

Paleo Baking Flours

Almond flour
Arrowroot powder
Cassava flour
Coconut flour
Hazelnut flour
Tapioca starch

Learn more: What Is the Best Paleo Baking Flour?

Condiments and Cooking Ingredients

apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar
Applesauce (unsweetened)
Balsamic vinegar
Cacao, raw
Cacao nibs
Cacao powder
Coconut aminos
Fish sauce
Red wine vinegar
Tomato paste
Worcestershire sauce (corn-free)

Learn more: The Complete Guide to Shopping Paleo

Drinks

Black coffee (in moderation)
Black tea (in moderation)
Bone broth
Coconut water

Club soda
Green tea
Herbal tea
Kombucha
Matcha
Seltzer
Sparkling water (without artificial ingredients)
Water, filtered or spring
Water kefir
Wine (in moderation)
White tea (in moderation)

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Paleo Drinks

Bottom Line

paleo chicken

Basically, it all comes down to eating real food. Our bodies are engineered to utilize the nutrients found in whole foods in their natural form. The same cannot be said for the man-made chemicals that are now abundantly found in our food supply. Our bodies don’t know what to do with these foreign chemicals and altered foods.

Longterm results of following a highly processed diet are not good, and in fact, is largely why chronic conditions are rampant in our modern world. These processed and refined ingredients make our immune systems overly sensitive and can trigger countless disease states.

There is a time and a place for being really strict with your diet, like when you have food intolerance, allergy, or sensitivity, or when you’re facing other chronic health problems. Elite athletes and other high-performing people will also need to stay strict with a diet.

For everyone else who’s just trying to live a healthy lifestyle and have fun while doing it, give yourself a break sometimes and focus on what feeds your body as well as your soul.