If you’re following the Plant Paradox program, you’re likely well aware of the importance of consuming lectin-free foods. Dr. Steven Gundry’s diet plan focuses on reducing inflammation in the body by avoiding foods high in lectins (among other inflammatory foods like sugar). But with so many options out there, it can be tough to keep track of which foods are approved for the program.
That’s where our plant paradox printable shopping list (PDF) comes in handy. Not only will you find a list of the most common lectin-free foods, but they will be presented in a way that will help you easily understand what to prioritize during shopping, portion sizes, and how often you can eat the foods on the list. From fruits and vegetables to grains, flours, and sweeteners, to meats and dairy, this list got you covered. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, this resource will be a game-changer for your shopping and meal planning.
What are the plant paradox food list and program?
If you landed on this page, you probably heard of The Plant Paradox book, by Dr. Steven Gundry. I hope you read it, and if you didn’t yet, I recommend you do. The plant paradox program covers more than food, but this article will only focus on lectin-free food lists. The premise of this program is that lectins are proteins found in some foods, harming our health.
As a background, I discovered Dr. Gundry and the plant paradox in August 2017. While I was what, by many standards, is considered a clean eater, physically active, and doing daily yoga, I felt like I was continuously gaining weight (I was in my late 30s) and had digestive problems and lots of inflammation.
One day I came across an interview with Dr. Gundry about the dangers of healthy foods. It was the first time I heard about lectins. That’s when I realized my clean diet was actually high in lectins.
This approach resonated so much that I immediately stopped the NO foods, cleaned my pantry, and started eating only from the YES list. Weight loss came instantly, and since then, I’ve maintained a healthy weight without making any effort.
While the primary focus of eliminating lectins is not losing weight, this is probably one of the first noticeable changes. My surprise came when I realized that the pains I had all my life had suddenly vanished (like period pains).
What are lectins?
According to Dr. Steven Gundry (in The Plant Paradox book), lectins are large proteins found in plants and animals. They have been used strategically by plants as a defense system for survival. Lectins were discovered in 1884, as part of an investigation into different blood types.
If you’ve heard about lectins before the Plant Paradox book was published, you probably heard in the context of the blood type diet.
The most famous type of lectin is gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. But there are many harmful lectins (and some good ones too!) besides gluten.
Lectins are found in most plants’ seeds, some grains, skins, rinds, and leaves.
Now, a lectin-free diet or the plant paradox program is not against a plant-based diet; on the contrary. Humans and animals have been developing mechanisms of defense against lectins for millennia, rendering most lectins harmless.
So why are lectins bad for us?
So you are probably wondering why I should avoid lectins if we have these mechanisms in place. That’s a valid question. To understand the answer to this question, let’s review the humans’ four defense mechanisms developed against lectins and other anti-nutrients found in plants:
- The mucus in your nose and the saliva in your mouth are the first defense line. They are called mucopolysaccharides, and their role is to trap lectins. A runny nose or excess mucus is a way for the body to defend against lectins; when we eat too many lectins, like in spicy peppers, for example.
- Stomach acid is the second line of defense.
- The microbiome in your mouth and gut is the third line of defense.
- The mucus line of your intestines is the fourth line of defense against lectins.
All this makes sense, and if these four barriers are intact and healthy, we should not be bothered too much by lectins. However, can you see what the problem is? The modern human diet, especially the Western diet, has a way of weakening these defense mechanisms with all its heavily processed foods and unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Most of us have a weakened microbiome, low stomach acid, and all sorts of imbalances in the gut. That’s the reason we became unable to process most of the lectins.
Is a lectin-free diet forever?
While eating a diet low in lectins is part of a healthy lifestyle, strictly eliminating all harmful lectins is just a phase in your healing journey.
Depending on your health problems and goals, the strict elimination phase can last at least six weeks and maybe years. But there are ways to prepare heavy-lectin foods to lower their lectin content.
Once you strengthen the four lines of defense, you will be able to tolerate lectins better.
Bioindividually and lectin sensitivity
There are a few things to consider when adopting a lectin-free or low-lectin lifestyle:
- Bioindividuality – we are all different, so we need to personalize this plan to fit our needs and lifestyle, and we don’t all have the same sensitivity to lectins.
- This program is split into stages, also called phases (1, 2, 3), and some of the NO foods can be reintroduced in phase 3. There is also a Keto Intensive program for those with autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
- You don’t HAVE TO eat any of the foods on the YES list, they are just suggestions so you can make your plan.
- There isn’t just ONE WAY to get healthy or a ONE-SIZE FITS ALL approach. Explore, try, and see what works for you.
- There is a plant paradox food pyramid created by Dr. Steven Gundry – which will make it easy for you to understand what the plant paradox plate will look like.
What is different about this plant paradox shopping list?
There are many plant paradox food lists on the internet, including Dr. Gundry’s YES & NO food lists. But this one is unique. It lists most of the plant paradox-approved foods and categorizes them into levels, according to Dr. Gundry’s food pyramid.
On Level 1, the base of the pyramid, are the lectin-free foods you can consume without restrictions, ending with Level 5, the top of the pyramid, with the foods/drinks approved but in minimal amounts.
So, when you go shopping, you will know which foods to stock up on all the time and which foods are occasional treats.
Naturally, the YES foods will be foods low in lectins, and the NO foods will be foods high in lectins, but also foods that are highly inflammatory (such as sugar and industrial oils).
Dr. Gundry’s ‘Just Say NO’ food list – The Plant Paradox, Phase 1 & Phase 2
While I like to focus on the food I choose to eat, it’s good to have an overview of what is considered inflammatory and not part of a healthy lectin-free diet.
But remember, the plant paradox program is split into phases. Some foods below, like legumes, beans, or nightshades, can be reintroduced if prepared appropriately to reduce lectin content. Despite their high lectin content, they do have health benefits. We must give the body a chance to heal and then learn how to consume them safely.
- Grains and pseudo-grains, except for sorghum, millet, fonio, and teff, that are considered lectin-free. I recommend reading my article ‘The 4 Gut-Healthy, Gluten-Free and Lectin-Free grains’ for more insight on grains and All About Teff, the Ancient Grain Gaining Popularity.
- Legumes, beans, and soy (fermented, organic soy products, such as miso, are allowed)
- Nightshades: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, goji berries
- Gourds: pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, and zucchini
- Sugar, including maple or agave syrup; a small quantity of local, raw, or Manuka honey is acceptable
- Almonds with skin on or almond meal; peanuts and cashews
- A1 casein dairy, made with milk from cows with casein A1 milk
- Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
- CAFO animal protein: intensively raised and produced animal protein, not fed a specie-appropriate diet
- Inflammatory oils: canola, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut oil, or anything sold as vegetable oil
- Fruits high in sugar like grapes and ripe bananas; fruits in season are allowed, in moderation, preferably organic and local; berries are low in sugar and can be consumed more often; avocados, lemons, and limes are fruits, but they are not restricted; fresh figs are excellent, they are flowers, not fruits.
- Heavily, industrially processed foods
If you need help quitting sugar, you might find some motivation by reading this article: How I Quit Sugar 5 Years Ago. And I still Eat the Cake.
The Plant Paradox Phase 3 Reintroductions
In theory, Phase 1 will last three days, Phase 2 will last six weeks, and Phase 3 will be the maintenance phase. I stayed in Phase 2 for two years; some people chose to wait even longer. It’s up to you, and it depends on how you feel and if you have achieved your overall health goals.
As you can imagine, a 20-year-old with no severe health conditions, who wants to do this for athletic performance, will have a different approach than a 50-year-old with an auto-immune disease and obesity. One size doesn’t fit all.
It’s important to note that, as in any reintroduction phase, these foods should be introduced gradually and in small quantities to understand how they affect your body, as we are all different. It’s also OK not to want to reintroduce any of these foods.
- Beans, lentils, legumes, only soaked and pressure-cooked
- Nightshade vegetables: heirloom, local, seasonal, and preferably organic, peels and seeds removed; pressure-cooking will also remove lectins
- White potatoes, pressure-cooked, cooled in the refrigerator (preferably overnight), and consumed cold or reheated
- White Indian basmati rice, red rice, and black rice (preferably organic), pressure-cooked and cooled in the refrigerator before eating or reheating
- True artisan white sourdough bread, made with organic flour, consumed in extreme moderation, as an occasional treat, and only if there isn’t any gluten allergy.
The Plant Paradox Food Pyramid
As mentioned previously, I found it helpful to make a list organized on levels. Level 1 is the base of the pyramid, and Level 5 is the tip:
- LEVEL 1 – Go nuts! You have the green light to eat as much as you’d like from this list. Stock up on these lectin-free foods every time you go shopping. Eat the rainbow. Use healthy fats for cooking and seasoning all your meals.
- LEVEL 2 – Don’t eat anything. Time-restricted eating is part of a healthy diet. Avoid grazing and try to keep a 12-16 hour time gap between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. Increase the window gradually.
- LEVEL 3 – Eating a limited quantity of these foods per meal is OK.
- LEVEL 4 – Enjoy these foods in moderation, a small quantity a few times a week.
- LEVEL 5 – Eat/drink a very limited quantity of these foods, a few times a week.
It’s important to note that this is only a guideline, and the lines between levels are not strict. You can follow periods of feast with periods of fast. Days are different, and our needs are different every day.
As Dr. Gundry likes to say: “Do the best you can with what you have.”
The Plant Paradox Pantry and Lectin-Free Shop
While this shopping list is mainly focused on produce, you can find plant paradox-approved pantry items in the SHOP section of this website.
This shop contains carefully curated plant paradox-approved items that are essential for a lectin-free diet and healthy lifestyle, from pantry staples to cookware, to gadgets and books.
Visit my Gundry MD Ambassador Shop and start saving today on Gundry MD supplements and products for your lectin-free diet and plant paradox lifestyle.
Total Restore and Lectin Shield are a must. Stock up on olive oil and save more than 25%.
The Plant Paradox Shopping List (Printable pdf)
When it comes to food, something we will have to deal with for at least twice a day for the rest of our lives, we need to allow some flexibility.
I tried to keep this lectin-free diet food list as short as possible and to make it print-friendly while giving it a look that makes it visually attractive. I am a visual person, and that’s very important for me. Plus, this will make a great hand note if any of your friends and family ask you: “So, what else is out there to eat?”
This is not an exhaustive lectin-free food list. I tried to cover as much as possible in as little space as possible. Probably hundreds of plant species could get on this list, but I chose those more commonly used and available in as many regions as possible.
Since starting the plant paradox journey, I have lived in the United States, Denmark, and Romania. I’ve been traveling and living abroad for two decades, so I’m familiar with the food landscape in many parts of the world, including specialty items.
But I’m sure plenty of plants specific to different areas of the world are not on this list. If you are curious if something is compliant and can’t find it on any list, you can always leave a comment below, and I’m sure we will find out.
Download the printable Plant Paradox Shopping List here
I hope you find this plant paradox shopping list helpful, and if you do, please share it with your friends, family, and community.
I would be interested to hear your feedback. This list can certainly be improved if there is a need.
More articles that explain The Plant Paradox and the lectin-free diet.
- Quick Guide to Gluten-Free, Lectin-Free Flours
- A Day in the Life of Dr. Steven Gundry
- The Plant Paradox. How to Reduce Chronic Inflammation and Improve Your Health
- The Plant Paradox Diet, Explained in 12 Steps
- A Three-Day Plant Paradox Cleanse Guide
- How to Stay Plant Paradox Compliant When Traveling
*This post contains affiliated links, which means I get a small commission if you choose to purchase something via one of my links at no extra cost to you.
Jeanne SuhrMarch 14, 2022 at 5:33 pm
Dear Dr Gundry, Would you consider selling attractive and easy to read laminated shopping lists that will fit into our purse for referencing? Perhaps yes on one side and no on the other or one card all yes and another card all no? I will be the first to buy then. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Jeanne Suhr
ClaudiaMarch 15, 2022 at 8:03 am
Hi Jeanne, this is not Dr. Gundry’s website, but thank you for the suggestion. The problem is that we will never be able to fit all these foods in such a small format. Maybe just something with the big food groups. xx
Jeanne SuhrMarch 14, 2022 at 5:40 pm
Oh! By the way I easily make my own peanut butter substitutes in my food processor. I make Macadamia Butter and Pistachio Butter using a tiny bit of MTC or Avocado Oil. Delicious!
ClaudiaMarch 15, 2022 at 8:04 am
That’s the way to go!
Diane SMay 17, 2022 at 5:12 pm
This is great information. Thank you for sharing. I am unable to find an actual shopping list that pertains to The Plant Paradox recipes for each phase,, so I am painstakingly putting one together on a spreadsheet(unless you know of an actual shopping list for the recipes with full quantities of ingredients listed?) Hopefully it will be done soon.
ClaudiaMay 18, 2022 at 4:17 am
Hi Diane, are you referring to the phase 1 recipes in The Plant Paradox book? I think the reason no one is doing that exactly is that there are a lot of personal nuances when one does shopping. I personally would never make a shopping list with exact quantities. Different grocery stores and farmers’ markets have different ways of packing and selling produce. Plus, The PP book recipes are just a guide. You can always personalize your menus and create new recipes, and usually, that changes with seasons, availability of certain ingredients, where a person lives, etc. I also guess that would be too much work (as you discovered) for anyone to put in. But I’m also the type who eyeballs everything, so I understand some of us need more specific information.
Diane S.May 18, 2022 at 6:42 am
That makes sense. I hate shopping and cooking so I definitely need one! Lol. Your guides are
TinaAugust 29, 2022 at 2:40 pm
Have you finished the lists? I would love to purchase one from you!.
MarcyAugust 26, 2022 at 6:10 pm
I ordered two of the supplements from Dr Gundry and a warning label about lead exposure was included. Do you know anything about this?
ClaudiaAugust 28, 2022 at 4:00 am
Hi Marcy, no, I have no idea. Are you following me on Instagram? Can you send me a picture? Or on my email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are concerned, call customer service to ask for more information and if you are not comfortable with their answer, return the products.
Christine StantonOctober 27, 2022 at 1:59 am
I love your site.
I have Italian and French friends that would love this info in there respective languages.
Thank you so much.
MarwaOctober 28, 2022 at 10:48 am
Hi, I’m just starting with the lectin free diet and I want to ask about some ingredients:
date, date coffee, date sugar: date is a healthy fruit in my country
carob, carob syrup, carob flour
pine nut seeds of Aleppo pines
ClaudiaOctober 28, 2022 at 12:36 pm
Hi Marwa! Fresh dates are allowed, in small quantities, in season. Dry dates are with a question mark, allowed only in a very small quantity (like max one date a day) and only if there is no pre-existing condition like prediabetes, diabetes, or insulin resistance. There is 16g of sugar in one date. Date sugar and syrup are a no, way too much-concentrated sugar. Carob is a YES; carob flour too, but not carob syrup. Pine nuts are a YES. I hope this helps, all the best in your journey xx
MarwaOctober 31, 2022 at 4:40 am
BarbaraDecember 4, 2022 at 4:51 pm
Hi, thank you for sharing! I would like to know for low long we need to stay in each phase! Thank you in advance
ClaudiaDecember 6, 2022 at 5:52 am
Hi Barbara! Phase 1 is usually 3 days, but you can extend it up to one week. Phase 2 is technically 6 weeks, but again, depending on your health issues and how you feel, you can extend it as much as you need. Start phase 3 reintroductions slowly to understand how they affect you. Phase 3 is the maintenance phase, and you can adapt it to your lifestyle and needs. You can always go back to phase 1 if you feel like a reset. I hope this helps. If you search Plant Paradox Cleanse on this website, you find more info about Phase 1 and a meal plan. Also, reading The Plant Paradox book can be very helpful. I hope this helps.
SophieJanuary 7, 2023 at 2:49 pm
I’m trying to figure out the ‘status quo’ of bitter melon and tindora. I’d appreciate your help!
ClaudiaJanuary 8, 2023 at 3:14 am
Hi Sophie, they are both gourds, so the gourds rule applies: in season, in small quantities, peels and seeds removed. I hope this helps xx
Karen ButchkoJanuary 24, 2023 at 4:30 pm
Can I please have a copy of the Lectin free shopping List. Thank you
ClaudiaJanuary 25, 2023 at 7:54 am
Hi Karen, there is a link in the article before the images with the list. Click on it, and you can download the PDF document.
GabyFebruary 5, 2023 at 5:41 am
I’m Mexican and want to know about some of our foods. Are dry chili pods, (chipotle chile, ancho Chile, Chile de árbol) tamarind and tequila okay? I love my Mexican food but it’s loaded with lectins. A staple on almost every dish is corn tortillas (tacos, flautas, tostadas, enchiladas, tamales, gorditas) any suggestion on what to replace corn masa with? I am so disappointed I love to eat my corn tortillas, salsas, Mexican cheese and moles.
ClaudiaFebruary 5, 2023 at 8:10 am
Hi Gaby, unfortunately, none of these are compliant. Try a month without them and all the other NO foods and see how you feel. The result might be worth it. Peppers and spicy sauces are ok if fermented, so look for fermented options. Tamarind is a legume, so the same rules for legumes and beans apply. If fermented is ok. Cassava tortillas are a good replacement for corn tortillas. Dark spirits are ok in very small quantities. I hope this helps xx