Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 26, 2021

© LCBGlenn /

Blue potatoes.

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Off the beaten plate

Farmers’ markets are springing up everywhere these days; a few vendors and an open space seem to be all you need. That makes for a lot of food options, but it’s easy to fall into a rut and to keep buying the same thing. Some writers, like Jo Robinson in Eating on the Wild Side, are advocating turning to unconventional food sources for a more nutrient-rich diet. The next time you head to the market, look out for these lesser-eaten options to keep you healthy, and off the beaten plate.

Blues and roots

Skip the standard white spuds but check out blue potatoes, which provide extra flavonoids, and purple carrots, which contain more anthocyanins than their more common orange relatives. Choose the reddest beets possible, as they contain more betalin, a powerful cancer fighter, and sodium nitrate to improve physical performance. Avoid white beets; while no colour means no stains, it also means no nutrients. For added fibre and vitamins, try celery root or Jerusalem artichokes.

Sage decisions

Most herbs are packed with nutrients. Many contain phytochemicals that can promote heart health, reduce inflammation and cancer risk. Dill, often used only as a garnish, has anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties, while the seeds are thought to help with digestion. Another oft-forgotten herb is sage, which contains chemicals that help reduce inflammation. And you’ll be plenty “sage” by eating this herb; it contains compounds that enhance memory.

The bitter truth

Bitter-tasting vegetables are actually good for you. Many of the most potent phytonutrients, like the cancer-fighting glucosinolates found in the vegetables that make up the cabbage family can have a bitter taste, especially if they are overcooked. Avoiding that is easy; in fact a new study suggests that children will eat a greater variety of vegetables when they eat them raw with dip.1,2

You can also eat these vegetables partially cooked, with olive oil-based dressing or a bit of soy sauce to tone down the bitterness. Little-known members of the cabbage family include arugula, kale, mustard greens and radishes (including the leaves). Dark green vegetables are more nutritious than lighter vegetables, and look for red romaine lettuce, red radicchio, and purple cabbage to add even more phytonutrients than their greener counterparts.

Eat, drink and be berry

Some recent studies suggest a portion (125 ml) of berries a day will do a better job of keeping the doctor away than an apple will.3,4 Summer brings us a plethora of options, so you can put down the McIntosh and pick up a pint of blueberries.


If you're looking for either great recipes incorporating these ingredients, or fresh dips to accompany them, check out these recipes.

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