Nutrition Heart-Healthy Choices on the Paleo Diet By Heart and Vascular Institute, January 11, 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 fruits 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 Salmon Trout Herring 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 on 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 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.