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Heart-Healthy Choices on the Paleo Diet


Sunday, January 11th, 2015

You’ve heard that the Paleo Diet is the latest diet craze, right? This eating plan became popular in the past few years and is also called the “caveman diet” due to its focus on fresh foods like meat, fruits and vegetables, and nuts.

The Paleo Diet includes foods that people ate before farming became a way of life, and before processed grains and dairy products made their way onto our plates. While eliminating processed foods in favor of more vegetables and lean cuts of meat, it’s wise to remember that every diet and meal plan should place a focus on moderation. Meat-based diets can increase your risk of heart disease. So, if you’re a meat eater, here are some things to keep in mind.

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables

The Paleo Diet includes plenty of fresh frutis and vegetables. Remember to choose:

  • Fresh fruits without added sugar
  • Fresh vegetables without added salt, butter, or cheese

Lean Meats Are the Best

Fresh meats from animals that were grass-fed, not corn-fed, are a big part of paleo eating. Make sure you pick:

  • Lean cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb
  • Chicken or turkey without skin
  • Only meats that are fresh, not processed or cured

Go Fish

Fish and shellfish are part of the Paleo Diet, and the American Heart Association suggests eating fish at least twice a week. Focus on fish that have omega-3 fatty acids, like

What About Grains & Dairy?

Two major food groups – whole grains and dairy – aren’t part of the Paleo Diet at all. While you can eat eggs, stick to no more than three egg yolks per week.

The Paleo Diet and Your Heart

So far, there’s not much research about how the Paleo Diet affects heart health. There are many good ideas in this diet, like eating fresh fruits and vegetables and staying away from foods that are fried, processed, sugary, and salty. Eating a lot of meat and other foods that are high in cholesterol, like eggs, can increase your risk for heart disease.

Before you make any changes to your diet, talk to your doctor to find out if they’re right for you.

Are you considering going Paleo? If so, visit to the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online to learn more about the impact of certain diets on the heart or to schedule a screening for vascular disease before embarking upon this meat-heavy diet.

Heart

Heart and Vascular Institute

As a recognized leader in cardiovascular care — with a rich history in clinical research and innovation — the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers a full spectrum of personalized cardiovascular services. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the United States, UPMC has made significant contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular medicine. Read More