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A Comparison of Primal, Paleo and Traditional Foods

The world of consumer health and nutrition is filled with diets of every kind.  Over the past several years, three of those diets have become quite popular.  The Primal Blueprint, The Paleolithic Diet and the Traditional Foods diet.  You, or someone you know, have probably tried one or two of these popular diets. Maybe you’ve tried a variation of one of these diets such as the Ketogenic Diet, the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, or the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) paleo diet.

Each of these diets has some components in common with the other diets.  Many people wonder, “What is the difference between Primal and Paleo?”  How does Primal or Paleo compare to Traditional Foods?  What is allowed on the Primal diet?  What is allowed on the Paleo Diet?  I have compiled a handy chart that compares and contrasts each of the three main diets in their purest form.

Pin This Article for Later A Comparison of Primal Paleo Traditional Foods

NOTE: This chart was created from the original versions of each of these diets. The diets have changed a little over time as science and personal preferences dictate. 

Before going any further, I want to make it clear that each of these so-called diets is actually a life-long way of eating and not a weight-loss diet.  While it’s true that a person eating a Primal, Paleo or Traditional Foods diet may lose weight, the main reason that many people chose these ways of eating is to increase health, not decrease weight. These diets require a commitment to changing the way you eat for the rest of your life.

All of the information I used to make this chart was obtained from the following books and websites:

Mark’s Daily Apple
The Paleo Diet
The Weston A. Price Foundation

This chart is a quick guide to be used for comparison only.  Do not use this chart to decide if any of these diets are right for you without first reading the books.  There is an incredible amount of information in each book that you will need to know before making a truly informed decision about which diet is right for you.  This chart simply addresses the differences between the Primal diet, the Paleo diet and the Traditional Foods diet.

Because this information is taken directly from the books listed above, there may be other acceptable foods for each diet that are not listed here because were not acceptable foods for the diet at the time of publishing.  As science forges ahead and we learn more about various foods and drinks, they may be found acceptable as part of one or more of these ways of eating.

Food or Drink
Wild Rice, Quinoa (technically a seed)Not allowedIn moderation
Soaked, sprouted or
fermented grains
Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs
Locally grown, organic vegetables and herbs
Locally grown, in season, high-antioxidant
All low-glycemic fruits and vegetables allowedFresh fruits, vegetables and
Fermented vegetables
Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Eggs
Local, pasture raised meat, pork, poultry and
pastured, free-range eggs
Organ meats
Wild-caught fish and select farm-raised
Lean meats and pork
Beef organ meats
Lean poultry
Eggs, enriched with omega-3, in moderation
No fatty meats, such as bacon
Local, grass-fed meat
Local pork
Local, free-range poultry
and eggs
Organ meats
Wild-caught fish
Beans and Legumes
Not allowedNot allowedAllowed when properly
sprouted and/or soaked
and cooked
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds, especially
macadamia nuts, coconuts and certain coconut products
Nut butters
Nuts and seeds allowedAllowed when properly sprouted and/or soaked
Nut butters made with coconut oil
Grass-fed, raw (unpasteurized) and/or
fermented milk and other dairy products
Not allowedRaw (unpasteurized),
grass-fed and/or
fermented milk and other fermented or cultured dairy products
Fats and Oils
Saturated animal fats, including

butter, ghee, lard and tallow for cooking

Coconut oil for cooking

Omega-3 oils such as olive oil, low heat cooking only

No flax oil

Reduce consumption of omega-6 oils

Olive oil, flax seed oil,
walnut oil, and avocado oil
Only olive oil for cooking(Many now include coconut oil, especially for cooking)
Liberal use of animal fats
Saturated fats, such
as coconut oil and other
animal fats, are recommended for cooking
Omega-3 fats are not
recommended for cooking, but are allowed as dressings
and in sauces
Omega-6 oils are avoided
or used rarely and are
never used for cooking
Salt and Spices
AllowedSalt not allowed (this has been relaxed to allow unrefined salt)
Spices allowed
Unrefined natural salts and organic spices are allowed
Not allowed

(This has been relaxed to allow for unrefined sweetners, but in strict moderation)

Not allowed

(This has been relaxed to allow for unrefined sweetners, but in very strict moderation — added sweeteners, even natural and unrefined are still discouraged in strict paleo diets)

In moderation
Organic, Grade B, Maple syrup
Sucanat (rapadura)
Raw, organic honey
coconut sugar
Unsweetened tea
Red wine, in moderation
Coffee, in moderation
Herbal tea
Alcoholic beverages, in
Herbal teas
Wine or unpasteurized beers,
in moderation

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