The Paleo Diet is based on eating like our ancestors ate, back when they were still hunting and gathering. It eliminates foods that weren’t around back then, which makes sense since we’ve certainly taken some steps in the wrong direction in the past many thousand years when it comes to the foods we eat. (I’m looking at you, neon-orange cheese powder and doughnut cheeseburgers.)
With that in mind, here are 5 Paleo Diet principles worth following to help you eat better in our modern world.
Cut Out Processed Foods: People eating a Paleo-style diet don’t eat many foods that come out of a package. Limit foods like pretzels, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals and other not-so-good-for-you foods. This will help you cut down on your intake of refined grains (which have been stripped of beneficial fiber), as well as added sugar and sodium.
Eat Wild-Caught Seafood and Grass-Fed Meats: Our long-ago ancestors didn’t eat meats and seafood that came from an industrialized farming system. For that reason, the Paleo Diet emphasizes purchasing animal protein that has been raised sustainably. Not only is that better for the environment, but it may be better for you as well. Grass-fed beef has more omega-3 fatty acids than beef from cows fed corn and soy feed.
Get Your Veggies and Fill Up on Fruits: Since the Paleo Diet cuts out grains and legumes, all carbohydrates on the plan come from fruits and veggies. Most of us aren’t getting the recommended servings of produce we need, which means we’re missing out on important vitamins and minerals and fiber.
Cut Down on Salt: Paleo eaters have put down their salt shakers and so should you. Cutting back on salt can help improve your blood pressure and minimize other risks of cardiovascular disease. But decreasing salt doesn’t mean you have to eat bland foods.
Minimize Added Sugar: Minus the natural kind found in fruit, there’s virtually no sugar eaten on the Paleo Diet (which means no honey, maple syrup or other natural sweeteners either). Since most of us need help with our sweet tooth—the average American eats 30 teaspoons of added sugar a day, more than triple what’s recommended by the American Heart Association—take a page from the Paleo folks and cut down on your added sugar.
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