The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating

Reading the New York Times today, I came across a list of the 11 best foods you aren't eating. The author, Tara Parker-Hope, asked Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, to compile a list of accessible foods that most of us should be eating, but aren't. Interestingly, only one of these foods isn't vegan...

  1. Beets
  2. Cabbage
  3. Swiss Chard
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Pomegranate Juice
  6. Dried Plums
  7. Pumpkin Seeds
  8. Sardines
  9. Turmeric
  10. Frozen Blueberries
  11. Canned Pumpkin

I had to laugh when I saw this list. The number one item, beets, is something Jane can't seem to bring herself to make. We've bought them at the farmers market once or twice, but for some reason they keep winding up in the compost pile. Jane speculates that's because, as a child, she was forced to eat canned beets. She's never gotten over the trauma. 😉 As I'm writing this we actually have a bunch of orange beets in the fridge. Perhaps this post will inspire Jane to do something with them.

I'm happy to report that we tend to eat most of these foods ourselves. Obviously, we don't eat the sardines. Also, we don't drink a lot of fruit juice, mostly water and tea... And the pumpkin is something we usually only have around Thanksgiving, but we've got 9 of the 10 foods (not including the sardines) in our home at the moment.

Now, off to get myself a handful of pumpkin seeds...


  1. Can’t say I blame Jane on the beets! hehe

    I think the only reason the sardines are on that list is because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain, so if you’re getting a dose of avocado or uncooked olive or flax oil everyday, that should take their place. However, sardines/fish/other animals also contain types of fatty acids that don’t get synthesized very well by the human body (EPA and DHA), and most people get them via animal products *sigh*. These two acids occur in microalgae and seaweed (which is how it ends up in the fish), so the original source of it is vegan, but it’s most reliable to take in a supplement form. I don’t like how some nutritionists lead the masses to believe that they need animal products to be healthy.

    Just a tidbit of info I learned from the really good nutrition book Becoming Vegan.

  2. so funny, i was at shojin on sunday, and i ordered the bento box which came with pumpkin. at first, i was disappointed…i thought there was no way i’d enjoy it. but then once i started eating it, it totally grew on me. it ended up being my favorite thing in the box! go figure. anyways, great list! i could definitely add that stuff into my diet.

  3. Lindsey,
    Thanks for the info. And I’ve put the book on request from my library.

    Hi QuarryGirl,
    Jane and I almost went to Shojin on Sunday. Decided on mexican food instead. Yes, we thought the list was pretty easy to incorporate into daily life too. Although in reality, I can’t imagine eating pumpkin every day.

    Hi Gary,
    You think that way because you live on the east coast. Here, we have strawberries like you’ve never tasted, but the blueberries… well, let’s just put it this way, the best ones aren’t local, and we have about a two week window of goodness. Alas.

    Hi Byteful,
    Isn’t it a happy coincidence when the foods you love are actually good for you!

  4. We too have some troubles fixing beats. When we do fix them, we usually just slice them up, toss in olive oil/salt/pepper and roast them in the oven. Using maple syrup and nutmeg for the basting is nice for a sweet alternative.

  5. I have NEVER tried sardines and don’t intend to — Just not a seafood person! 😉 (I did try sushi for the first time ever last week, and I enjoyed it though…) But as for the rest of the stuff, I eat beets, pumpkin, CABBAGE, pomegranate juice (and seeds), plums and blueberries quite regularly 🙂
    Great list!

  6. Forgot to mention: The aforementioned discussions (for the most part) are aimed at people who don’t have the time and/or inclination to cook beets from scratch and are un-proud enough to use canned beets. In my case, that would be most of the people I know. 🙂

  7. Hey Gary,
    Jane is cautioning me to tell you NOT to hold your breath. But we’ve gotten a lot of inspirational tips from our readers, and maybe it’s time to get started….

    Hi Amy,
    Well, we’re certainly not going to advocate trying sardines (vegans here!). But the rest of the list… Eat up! 🙂

  8. This list makes me laugh because it’s like a stocklist of my kitchen. All my favorite foods!! Now I know for sure that my diet is weird – or just atypical.

  9. Hi Allison,
    If you’re vegan, your diet is atypical! We comprise less than 3% of the US population. By definition, that makes us atypical.
    Don’t feel to weird, we have all those things in our house too, excluding the sardines of course!

  10. Alot of people talk about sardines ina negative light, and yet– they are very nutritious. This whole thing about whether its ethical or unethical to eat meat is silly. What about being moderate? Do you really need that huge triple cheeseburger, and isnt it a but gluttonous? I don’t vouch for 3 quarters of whats out there for food but ill gladly take smaller fish over the larger stuff. Why? Larger concentrations of mercury and pcbs in bigger fish. But sardines and tuna are small so its only a miniscule amount. I have a formulae that i follow and ive stayed youthful over the years. I use it as an affirmation. I SACRIFICE CONVENIENT TASTE IN EXCHANGE FOR A HEALTHY BODY, BUT I WILL NOT SACRIFICE MY BODY TEMPLE FOR SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE IT TASTES GOOD… Blessings, and may all find that they are each great in their own place, as long as they TAKE ONLY WHAT THEY NEED…..

  11. Hi Jason,

    Discussion about whether it is ethical to take a life needlessly – or to subject sentient beings to the horrors of factory farms or to the torturous deaths that occur regularly in the animal agricultural and fishing industries – is not silly. In fact, it’s something we all should think about if we aspire to live a life that, to the extent practical and possible, does not exploit or inflict avoidable harm on others.

    I agree with you that gluttony is no virtue, and I think your maxim about taste and health is a good rule of thumb (though I like to reward myself with dessert on a regular basis). However, it is – to borrow your term – silly to speak of being “moderate” when one kills and inflicts harm – or pays others to do so – for pleasure. We are so indocrinated and addicted to using animals as disposable commodities, and inflicting all manner of cruelties upon them on a daily basis (stealing newborns from their mothers, amputating body parts without pain killers, crushing or suffocating 300 million male chicks at hatcheries, culling pigs by slamming them against the floor, forcing broiler chickens to overproduce so much flesh that many keel over heart attacks when as young as two week old, etc.) that “only” participating in these atrocities about half as much as our neighbors is now called “moderation.” It may be a nice-sounding, and possibly self-serving term but it is misappropriated if it means “only killing and maiming and torturing a little bit.”

    Why not would strive for a goal of trying to be as respectful to the lives of other individuals as much as possible? The first step along that path would be to stop participating three times or more a day in the mass killing and bodily harm done to animals. That requires essentially no time and no new costs, and therefore doesn’t interfere with other efforts to make the world a better place.

    Tuna is one of the few foods for which the USDA regularly issues health warnings, because of high mercury content. Bottom-feeder fish may ingest all manner of other pollutants. A recent meta-study suggests that the presumed advantages of eating fish may be a mirage, because the benefits can be attributed to other factors. If you want, I can get the details of the study.

    We can get omega-3s from plant sources and be perfectly healthy without exploiting and intentionally killing animals (most of them babies who had a miserable life), so why not take the peaceful route to health? That way, we bestow our blessings on more living creatures and honor not only our bodies but our deepest morals. I hope you’ll give this non-violent alternative some thought.

  12. Hi Jason,
    Gary has already responded, and rather eloquently, but I just wanted to add my two cents.
    Since there is no need to eat animal products to meet our nutritional requirements, we really have to examine how we treat the animals that are turned into food. We treat them barbarously. That is unethical. We are supposed to be intelligent and evolved enough to be compassionate. No animal has to die in order for us to live.
    Your meat doesn’t come to you from the idyllic family farm marketers want you to believe in. Animals are treated as commodities and raised under horrific conditions. See Earthlings. It might just change your mind. That treatment of these animals before they get to your plate is what people are saying is unethical.
    I too agree, that we should take only what we need. This is something that most Americans need to work on.

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