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Paleo approved food list: The Complete Paleo Diet Food List: What to Eat and What to Avoid


The Ultimate Paleo Diet Food List

Updated: August 5th, 2021

This is the definitive paleo diet food list. In it, you’ll find a list of the paleo diet meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils that are allowed on the paleo diet. You can throw these into any delicious paleo recipe (or make up your own) and be 100% sure that you’re paleo diet compliant :). Let’s get started.

Paleo Diet Rules

We don’t specifically like to think of food as having “rules,” but when it comes to the paleo diet, there are foods that you should eat and ones you should avoid. For a quick “do eat” and “don’t eat” primer, see our quick reference guide below.


  • Grass-fed meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

Paleo Diet Food List App

If you thought that was easy, what if you could have a paleo reference app in your pocket – so you knew WITHOUT A DOUBT – whether every food you put in your body was paleo or not.

If you have more questions on specific foods, we’ve included a comprehensive list of paleo diet foods below. We’ve provided a list of the foods that are allowed on the paleo diet. We’ve also broken this list down into the specific food groups, so you can see which meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fats are on the paleo diet. In addition to all of that, we’ve also included a comprehensive list of foods not allowed on the paleo diet.

There’s often confusion about what falls where, so we’ve tried to clarify that as much as possible. You can click on the links below to jump directly to whichever section of the food list you’re interested in.

 Good luck and happy eating!

[color-box color=”yellow”]After multiple requests, we’ve turned this Paleo Diet Food List resource into a downloadable PDF that you can download, print off, and use on your next trip to the grocery store. Simply right click and download this Paleo Diet Food List. [/color-box]

Paleo Diet Foods


Almost all meats are paleo by definition. Of course, you’ll want to stay away from highly processed meats and meats that are very high in fat (stuff like spam, hot dogs, and other low-quality meats), but if it used to moo, oink, or make some other sound, it’s almost certainly paleo (and, yes, that means you can still have bacon). Here’s the full list of paleo diet meats. Grill them up!

  • Poultry
  • Turkey
  • Chicken breast
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Pork chops
  • Steak
  • Veal
  • Bacon
  • Pork
  • Ground beef
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Chicken thigh
  • Chicken leg
  • Chicken wings (yum!)
  • Lamb rack
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Clams
  • Salmon
  • Venison steaks
  • Buffalo
  • New York steak
  • Bison
  • Bison steaks
  • Bison jerky
  • Bison ribeye
  • Bison sirloin
  • Lamb chops
  • Rabbit
  • Goat
  • Elk
  • Emu
  • Goose
  • Kangaroo
  • Bear (good luck getting this!)
  • Beef jerky
  • Eggs (duck, chicken, or goose)
  • Wild boar
  • Reindeer
  • Turtle
  • Ostrich
  • Pheasant
  • Quail
  • Lean veal
  • Chuck steak
  • Rattlesnake
  • Head Cheese

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Fish are definitely on the paleo diet and they’re chock full of good stuff like omega-3s as well. If it swims and has fins, it’s definitely paleo diet food list worthy. Have it!

  • Bass
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Red snapper
  • Shark
  • Sunfish
  • Swordfish
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Walleye


Down in New Orleans and want to have a crawfish boil? Paleo. Swap it out for shrimp? Ditto. Heck, even a stop at Red Lobster is good as long as you stay away from the rolls. Check out all the different seafood you can eat on the paleo diet.

  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Crayfish
  • Shrimp


Almost all vegetables are paleo with some exceptions. Vegetables with a high starch content, such as potatoes and squashes, tend to have low nutritional value in comparison to the amount of starches/carbs/sugars they contain.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers (all kinds)
  • Cauliflower
  • Parsley
  • Eggplant
  • Green onions
  • Mushrooms

Some of our favorite paleo vegetables are even purple.

Starchy Vegetables*

These vegetables are quite starchy, so eat them in moderation especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

Oils and Fats

Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat; carbs do (and the Standard American Diet contains a ton of them!). Natural oils and fats are your body’s preferred sources of creating energy, so it’s best to give your body what it’s asking for. The following are some of the best types of paleo diet oils and fats that you can give your body if you’re in need of some additional energy.

  • Macadamia oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Ghee

Nuts and Seeds

We love nuts and they are decidedly paleo diet friendly. Be careful though, as cashews are high in fat and, for some reason, it’s incredibly easy to eat an entire jar of them in one sitting (that’s not just us, is it?). If you’re trying to lose weight, limit the amount of nuts you’re consuming. Otherwise, have at it. I mean, you can’t beat a good almond/pecan/walnut mix, can you?

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds

Please note: peanuts are NOT paleo as they’re not actually a nut. They’re a legume! For more on this, see our article about legumes.


Fruits are not only delicious, but they’re also great for you. That said, fruits (even paleo-approved ones) contain large amounts of fructose which, while much better than HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), is still sugar. If you’re looking to lose weight on the paleo diet, you’ll want to cut back on your fruit intake and focus more on the vegetables allowed on the paleo diet.

However, feel free to have one to three servings of fruit a day. Check out this list of paleo diet fruits and see if you’re not hungry by the end! (We’ll admit, we’re partial to blackberries!)

  • Apple
  • Avocado
  • Blackberries
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Mango
  • Lychee
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Dragon Fruit (how to eat it)
  • Lemon
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple guava
  • Lime
  • Raspberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tangerine
  • Figs
  • Oranges
  • Bananas*

*While these starchy foods are great for energy replacement for paleo diet athletes who are spending long periods of time exercising and who need some of the starchier foods to sustain their energy levels, if you’re trying to lose weight on the paleo diet, you’ll want to limit the quantities of these that you’re eating.

**Eat high-sugar fruits in moderation. They’re great for you, but it’s easy to overdo it. Remember, your caveman ancestors didn’t have access to Florida’s orange groves 24/7, so you probably shouldn’t try to eat a bushel of oranges in your next paleo diet meal.

Other Paleo-friendly Foods

This is a pretty comprehensive list of foods available on the paleo diet and we’re constantly updating it. If you’re looking for ways to eat these foods, check out some of the paleo recipes on our site.

Paleo Diet – Foods To Avoid

This is a complete list of foods not allowed on the paleo diet. It’s a sad day when you first have to say goodbye to these foods but, once you start, it’s much easier and you find there are even better paleo substitutes for these foods. The first few weeks might be tough, but if you stick with it over time, it’ll be worth it. We promise. Here’s the ultimate list of foods not allowed on the paleo diet.


  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Non-fat dairy creamer
  • Skim milk
  • 2% milk
  • Whole milk (sometimes)
  • Dairy spreads
  • Butter – this is debatable in the Paleo community. Some argue that grass-fed butter does have a place in a well-balanced Paleo diet.
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered milk
  • Yogurt
  • Pudding
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Ice milk
  • Low fat milk
  • Ice cream

Soft drinks

Soft drinks, pop, and Coke are packed with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup and are definitely NOT paleo diet friendly.

  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Pepsi
  • Mountain Dew
  • Etc.

Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are super high in sugar (fructose) and will throw your paleo diet off track. Stay away from these.

  • Apple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Grape juice
  • Strawberry juice
  • Chinola juice
  • Starfruit juice
  • Mango juice


You should avoid anything that has a grain in it. Yes, anything. If you pretend that grains are the devil, you’ll find it’s much easier to avoid them.

  • Cereals
  • Bread
  • English muffins
  • Toast
  • Sandwiches
  • Triscuits
  • Wheat Thins
  • Crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of wheat


Don’t know what a legume is? That’s okay because we’ve put together a primer on what legumes are and why, unfortunately, they’re not paleo diet friendly. For the paleo diet, legumes are not on the menu. Sorry. Here are the ones you should avoid.

  • All beans
    • Black beans
    • Broad beans
    • Fava beans
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Horse beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Lima beans
    • Mung beans
    • Adzuki beans
    • Navy beans
    • Pinto beans
    • Red beans
    • String beans
    • White beans
  • Peas
    • Black-eyed peas (and, yes, you should also avoid the band)
    • Chickpeas
    • Snow peas
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Miso
  • Lentils
  • Lupins
  • Mesquite
  • Soybeans
  • All soybean products and derivatives
  • Tofu
  • Caveat – fresh green beans and green peas can be consumed in moderation on the Paleo diet. Compared to other legumes, their phytic acid content is way lower, and these vegetables offer beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Artificial Sweeteners

Bad news – sweeteners aren’t paleo, sweetie. All artificial sweeteners are, by definition, artificial and not paleo. If you’d like to sweeten your foods, use honey, maple syrup, or (if you’re really in a pinch) Stevia.

  • Acesulfame potassium
    • ACK
    • Ace K
    • Equal Spoonful (also +aspartame)
    • Sweet One
    • Sunett
  • Aspartame
    • APM
    • AminoSweet (but not in US)
    • Aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester
    • Canderel (not in US)
    • Equal Classic
    • NatraTaste Blue
    • NutraSweet
  • Aspartame-acesulfame salt
  • Cyclamate
    • Not in US as per FDA
    • Calcium cyclamate
    • Cologran = cyclamate and saccharin (not in US)
    • Sucaryl
  • Erythritol
    • Sugar alcohol
    • Zerose
    • ZSweet
  • Glycerol
  • Glycyrrhizin
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate (HSH)
  • Isomalt
    • Sugar alcohol
    • ClearCut Isomalt
    • Decomalt
    • DiabetiSweet (also contains Acesulfame-K)
    • Hydrogenated Isomaltulose
    • Isomaltitol
  • Lactitol
  • Maltitol
    • Sugar alcohol
    • Maltitol syrup
    • Maltitol powder
    • Hydrogenated High Maltose Content Glucose Syrup
    • Hydrogenated maltose
    • Lesys
    • MaltiSweet (hard to purchase)
    • SweetPearl
  • Mannitol
  • Neotame
  • Polydextrose
    • Sugar alcohol
    • (Derived from glucose and sorbitol)
  • Saccharin
    • Acid saccharin
    • Equal Saccharin
    • Necta Sweet
    • Sodium Saccharin
    • Sweet N Low
    • Sweet Twin
  • Sorbitol
    • Sugar alcohol
    • D-glucitol
    • D-glucitol syrup
  • Steviol glycoside
  • Sucralose
    • 1′,4,6′-Trichlorogalactosucrose
    • Trichlorosucrose
    • Equal Sucralose
    • NatraTaste Gold
    • Splenda
  • Tagatose
  • Xylitol
    • Sugar alcohol
    • Smart Sweet
    • Xylipure
    • Xylosweet
    • Anything that says “artificial”

Fatty Meats

If you’re going to eat meat, go ahead and spring for some steak. Stay far away from these non-paleo foods.

  • Spam
  • Hot dogs
  • Other low-quality meats (if you do eat them, eat them in moderation)

Salty Foods

These overly salty foods fall outside the paleo diet guidelines.

  • French fries
  • Ketchup
  • Potato chips
  • Popcorn


These easy, cheap, and pre-packaged snacks could last years on their own. That means they’re definitely not paleo.

  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Triscuits
  • Wheat Thins
  • Cookies
  • SunChips
  • Pastries
  • Fruit gummies

Energy Drinks

These are not good for you and are definitely not approved for our paleo diet food list. Stay far, far away.

  • Mountain Dew MDX
  • Vault
  • XS Energy Drink
  • 5-Hour Energy


Unfortunately, almost all alcohol does not work with the paleo diet. Yes, this includes, but isn’t limited to:


Sugar is almost always manufactured and should be avoided on the paleo diet. This means you’ll need to cut out the delicious but destructive sweets and sugars that are standard in the Standard American Diet. The rule of thumb here is: if it contains a ton of sugar, it’s probably not on the paleo diet friendly. That said, here’s a specific lists of sweets that are not on the paleo diet food list. You might want to take a moment to say goodbye to them before you start your paleo diet journey.

  • Candy bars
  • Snickers
  • Snickers Peanut Butter
  • 100 Grand
  • Butterfinger
  • Milky Way
  • Reese’s (NOOOO!)
  • Payday
  • M&Ms
  • Skittles
  • Red Vines
  • Twizzlers
  • Hershey’s
  • Nestle Crunch
  • Almond Joy
  • Mounds
  • Reese’s Fast Break
  • Reeses’s Pieces
  • Twix
  • Twix Peanut Butter

Any other refined sugars.

What about gluten free foods?

If you’ve got questions about adopting a gluten free lifestyle, check out: The Ultimate Guide to a Gluten Free Diet. This will answer all the questions you have about going gluten free (including which foods you should eat and avoid.)


Other Resources

[color-box color=”yellow”]Get Paleo.io – THE paleo diet food list app – in your pocket and never ask “is this paleo?” again.[/color-box]

Recipes Made With Paleo Diet Food List Options

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Paleo Diet Food List Video

If you’re looking for the paleo diet food list in video format, look no further. We made a special song just for you :).

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