Following a healthy diet is a daily challenge. Today our article is about a popular diet, which is the paleo diet. We will talk about the Mediterranean diet as well, and in what aspects both are similar and different. In addition, we will make a comparison between them with the vegan diet. So, let’s know more about the Paleo vs the Mediterranean vs vegan diet.

What is the paleo diet?

It’s an ancient nutritional plan based on eating foods similar to what humans used to eat in the Paleolithic era. The modern version of this diet has been designed to fit the modern lifestyle with the main idea of eating foods that our ancient ancestors used to eat. That means you should give away processed foods and sugar. The main idea is to stop consuming foods that provide just empty calories.

The basic principles of the paleo diet

The Paleo diet encourages returning to the old eating habits of the cavemen while including physical activity as a daily routine. Experts support the idea that most modern diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases happen due to unhealthy eating habits and eating processed foods that are full of sugar and salt. If we go back to the prehistoric period, we find that people during this time used to hunt animals for meat and eat from the earth.

Here are the basic principles of the paleo diet:

  • Just eat real natural whole foods like in the old times
  • Red meats are the main component 
  • Seafood and fish are important components 
  • Just eat when you feel hungry
  • Enjoy wide varieties of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid foods that make you feel not good
  • Learn how to cook your food
  • It’s not only about food but about sticking to a healthy lifestyle

Foods are allowed to eat in the paleo diet:

  •  Meat: You can enjoy eating fresh meats especially, which are organ and raised on grass, you have a wide variety like beef and lamb. In addition, you can eat pork, veal, goat, bison, and deer
  • Seafood and fish: Trout, shrimp, shellfish, salmon, tuna, mackerel, lobster, crab, oysters, mussels, bass, halibut, anchovy, herring, and clams
  • Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey, quail, and goose
  • Nuts and seeds: Walnut, almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts, cashews, pistachios, flax seeds, and others
  • Healthy fats and oils: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocados, ghee, nut butter, walnut oil
  • Vegetables: Fresh vegetables or frozen can be used like celery, artichokes, beets, radish, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots. Green leafy vegetables swiss chard, spinach, arugula, chicory, collard greens, lettuce
  • Fruits:  Fresh fruits or dried fruits are included like grapefruit, watermelon, cherries, coconut, kiwi, pineapple, figs, dates, apples, plums, bananas, citrus fruits
  • Herbs and spices: Herbs and spices are great choices for adding flavor to foods and they contain healthy nutrients as well. Additionally, most of them are low in fat or do not contain fat. You can try oregano, ginger, thyme, rosemary, cloves, cumin, turmeric, garlic, lavender, mint, basil, coriander
  • Eggs: Chicken eggs, quail eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs
  • Natural sweeteners: The best are honey and maple syrup

What foods should be avoided in the Paleo diet?

  • Grains: including Cereal, corn, bread, pasta, and others
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and soybeans
  • Refined sugar: Such as cane, sugar, buttered syrup, and others
  • Vegetable oils: Such as soybean oil, canola oil, and others
  • Highly processed foods: Such as processed meats, fast foods, and others
  • Refined carbohydrates: Such as white flour products, pasta, and others
  • Most dairy products: Dairy is not allowed in the strict paleo diet. But, some people in the paleo diet consume dairy products that are full fat

Health benefits of the paleo diet

  • Following the paleo diet have an impressive impact on skin health

That happens because when you eat natural healthy foods, provide your body with healthy nutrients, which are needed to improve and treat skin problems. On the other hand, avoiding highly processed food leads to getting rid of toxins that cause skin issues.

  • Boosting energy

The main source of energy in the paleo diet is natural sugar not refined sugar, which means it helps in keeping your sugar level stable, so you will feel active all day.

  • It helps sleep better

Giving away sugar and sugary beverages helps you to feel better during the day and will improve your sleep quality as well.

  • Lower inflammation

This diet is a way to eliminate processed foods, which cause inflammation and that leads to managing diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and others

  • Keep blood sugar levels stable

Paleo diet cons

  • Skipping grains could cause a deficiency in important nutrients including fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, and iron
  • Eating plenty of meats that are high in saturated fats could increase the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer
  • Some people may suffer from bad breath
  • It may be expensive for including some expensive foods such as seafood, fish, meats, and nuts
  • The dairy restriction could cause a deficiency in many important nutrients including calcium and vitamin D, which are important for bone health

The Mediterranean Diet

Eating the foods that were popular in the Mediterranean countries throughout history is the main idea of our modern Mediterranean diet. It was chosen to be one of the healthiest diets around the world. You can not find one specific way of doing it, but it varies from one country to another. Let’s know more about its basic rules.

Mediterranean Diet | Different Protocols and Foods To Follow

The basic rules of the Mediterranean Diet:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits 
  • Eat whole grains
  • Eat fish and seafood at least two times per week
  • Eat legumes and beans
  • Eat healthy fats from nuts and seeds
  • Limiting eating red meats
  • Use herbs and spices to flavor foods to reduce salt
  • Eat moderate portions of eggs, poultry, and low-fat dairy
  • Keep physical activity as a part of your life
  • Drink wine in moderation
  • Give away processed foods and sugar
  • The olive oil is the main component in the Med diet

Health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

  • The high fiber content in the Med diet helps lower LDL cholesterol and control blood pressure
  • The antioxidants in the foods included in the Med diet help prevent arteriosclerosis
  • Being rich in healthy fats helps support heart health
  • Eliminating processed foods leads to reduce salt and sugar intake, which leads to lower blood pressure and manage blood sugar level
  • Enhancing mental health

Mediterranean diet Vs. Paleo diet

What are the similarities between the Mediterranean diet and the Paleo diet?

  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a common principle between both diets
  • Both diets encourage eating fish and seafood as sources of omega-3 fats
  • Both diets encourage eating nuts, seeds, and olive oil as sources of omega-3 fats
  • The Med diet and the Paleo diet recommend not eating highly processed foods, which are full of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and preservatives

What are the differences between the Mediterranean diet and the Paleo diet?

  • The Paleo diet is more restrictive than the Med diet
  • Both diets encourage eating whole natural foods
  • The Med diet focuses on eating fish and seafood while the Paleo diet focuses on eating meats
  • The Med diet allows eating dairy, whole grains, and legumes while they are not included in the Paleo diet

Are paleo and Mediterranean diets effective for weight loss?

Both of them can lead to losing weight if you follow them for this goal. The Paleo diet may lead to weight loss faster than the Med diet. But, if you want to maintain the weight loss, the Med diet is better because it can be followed as a lifestyle easily for being less restrictive than the Paleo diet. 

Vegan diet

Some people prefer to be vegan because they believe that it’s healthy and good for the environment as well. Today many alternatives can be easily used in the vegan diet. 

What foods can be eaten in the vegan diet?

The main idea of the vegan diet is not to eat foods that come from animals. So, if you are vegan, you can eat:

  • Fruits and vegetables daily
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes and beans
  • Dairy alternatives 
  • Unsaturated oils and spreads
  • Nuts and seeds

What are dairy alternatives that can be sources of calcium?

Dairy products are rich in calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. So, vegans need to find replacements that contain calcium. Here are some sources of it:

  • White and brown bread
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soya drinks

All of these alternatives also provide iron, which is an important nutrient for body health. Don’t forget to expose yourself to sun rays for getting vitamin D.

If we want to make a comparison between the Paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the Vegans diet, we will see that there are some differences and similarities between them, so let’s see.

The Paleo diet Vs. the Mediterranean diet Vs. the Vegan diet

Similarities

  • We can see that all of them encourages consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • All of them include seeds and nuts 
  • All of them can be used as a lifestyle for a long term or for a specific time if the goal is to lose weight
  • They have common health benefits including weight loss, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, supporting heart health, and others
  • Coffee and tea are allowed in all of them, especially in the Mediterranean diet

Differences

  • Red meats are the main component in the Paleo diet while fish and seafood are more preferable in the Med diet, but the vegans do not eat animal meats at all
  • Dairy products are allowed in the Med diet, in contrast, the paleo and vegan diets eliminate them
  • The Med diet includes grains, beans, and legumes as well as the vegan diet, while the paleo diet does not include them
  • Soy milk, cookies, soda, and others are allowed in the vegan diet, while they are not included in the Med and paleo diets
  • In vegan and paleo diets, alcohol is not included, while in the Med diet wine is allowed in moderation

Last words

I hope that we have provided you with more information about the Pleo die, the Mediterranean diet, and the Vegan diet. Finally, what fits you, may not fit others! Just try to find the best diet for you, in which you feel comfortable. After all, you should eat healthy foods, sleep well, exercise continuously, reduce stress to enjoy a healthy life.

kristen carli
I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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