What is the Paleo diet? It's a diet that's based (for the most part) on eating foods our caveman ancestors would have eaten thousands of years ago. Don't let the unrefined reputation of the caveman put you off. There are many great Paleo recipes to knock your socks off (including the one below for caveman chili).
The idea behind the diet is that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat like our ancestors did, prior to the agricultural revolution. In other words, eat what you could hunt, fish and gather and eliminate processed foods.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D., is the founder of the Paleo movement. Research conducted by Cordain and his colleagues revealed that Paleo people were generally free of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and others.
You might not think the Paleo diet is robust, but it is. You can enjoy meats (go for lean meats and stay away from processed meats); seafood; vegetables and fruits; nuts, seeds and berries; healthy oils like coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil; and eggs. When you're selecting your food, try to stick to grass-fed, free-range meats, wild fish and fresh fruits and veggies, particularly organic, if possible.
You wouldn't have seen people in the Paleolithic era lunching and munching on fast food and prepackaged cookies, and that means those types of foods are not included in the Paleo diet. Nor are grains, dairy, legumes (including peanuts), potatoes and refined sugar.
But keep in mind that there are many interpretations of the Paleo diet, and people make exceptions here and there. For example, some versions of the diet exclude tomatoes and eggplant, while others don't. Also, salt isn't standard on Cordain's plan, but you might use sea salt, sparingly. While sugar is not included in the diet, raw honey is.
You don't have to go all-out to enjoy the flavors and benefits of the Paleo diet. Some health experts say that eating a Paleo diet even 80 percent of the time can provide health benefits. Whether you follow Cordain's version of the Paleo diet or another that might be more middle-of-the-road, consider talking with your healthcare provider first.
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