The Paleo Diet, also known as the hunter-gatherer or caveman diet, is based on the idea that eating the way ancient humans did is the best way to nourish your body. While there are some benefits, it is important to recognize what foods still need to be part of your daily intake.
What is the Paleo Diet?
According to the diet's advocates, food added to the human diet by farming aren't optimal for health. The theory is that humans are genetically predisposed to function best on a "caveman" type of diet.
What foods does the Paleo diet include and restrict?
"If the cavemen didn't eat it then you shouldn't either" is a good summary for what foods are allowed on the Paleo Diet. This includes foods like grass-fed meat, poultry, shellfish, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, roots, and berries. The diet also encourages participants to eat healthy oils from fruits and nuts and to be very physically active. This diet excludes grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and highly-processed foods.
How does the Paleo diet fall short?
There is no scientific evidence to say that the Paleo diet is optimal. The diet is rich in high fat meats contradicting current evidence-based guidelines that recommend limiting saturated fats. Furthermore, excluding all grains and dairy products could cause nutrient deficiencies. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, calcium and vitamin D, found in dairy products, are under consumed. Additionally, whole grains provide B vitamins and dietary fiber which are linked with a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
What is the key takeaway?
Parts of the Paleo diet line up with strong scientific evidence. The emphasis on eating more fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical activity, drinking water, and limiting salt and sugar all contribute to a healthier eating pattern. Add whole grains and low-fat dairy products and you have a well-rounded plan!
Choose one day this week to swap out a highly-processed snack for a better option, like apples slices with peanut butter, grapes and low-fat cheese, veggies or whole-wheat pita bread and hummus, or the recipe below.
Prep Time: 5 minutes / Total Time: 1-2 hours / Makes: 6 servings Ingredients
1 pound fresh strawberries, halved or whole
1 large container low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
Almonds or peanuts, chopped (or other nut of choice)
- Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper.
- Dip strawberry halves in vanilla Greek yogurt and sprinkle with chopped almonds or peanuts. Place on parchment paper.
- Place in freezer for 1-2 hours or until yogurt is hard. Place dipped strawberries in a freezer-safe container. Store in the freezer until ready to enjoy!
Nutrition Information per Serving (Serving Size: 4 strawberries)
Calories: 82, Total Fat: 5 grams, Saturated Fat: 1 gram, Sodium: 7 milligrams, Carbohydrates: 7 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Sugar: 4 grams, Protein: 4 grams
Recipe source: unknown