National Farmer’s Market week celebrates two distinct and important aspects of this way of eating: locally-sourced foods and seasonally appropriate. And to that end, here are a few great, nutrient-dense seasonal foods you may find at your local market to include in your Paleo menu. Many of them provide not only a great variety of flavors, but also anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and otherwise health-promoting compounds. 2, 6
Broccoli is rich in vitamin C and fibre, and is surprisingly high in protein. It is a source of some potent phytochemicals, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, which have demonstrated protective effects in models of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions.1, 5, 11 Sautéed with a little garlic (another nutritional powerhouse) in olive oil, and you’ve got a delicious side dish for any Paleo meal.
Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants, retinoids (vitamin A-like compounds), and lycopene. The latter has been shown to protect the skin from the damaging effects of excess ultraviolet radiation – which might come in handy in the summer months, coincidentally, when tomatoes are in season.4, 7, 10 Cooking tomatoes maximizes the lycopene content,3 perfect for a summer Paleo Gazpacho.
If you have an autoimmune disease, certain glycoalkaloids in tomatoes may act to increase intestinal permeability and also contain certain immunological adjuvants (alpha tomatine in tomatoes) that up-regulate the immune response and should be avoided.
Zucchini is rich in folate, copper, and potassium, and is an extremely low-calorie food; only about 10-15 calories in a whole zucchini. It’s also one of the best sources for lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytonutrients that are good for ocular health.9 Zucchini has a delicate flavor which has been described as savory by some, and can be sliced, grilled, and ready-to-eat in just a few minutes.
Raspberries are another great source of antioxidants and anthocyanins. One study showed the equivalent of about a handful of raspberries per day reduces markers of inflammation in the blood while another study showed potentially protective effects against colorectal cancer. 8
While this is a terribly abbreviated list, you’ll surely find many other great Paleo Diet approved options at your local Farmer’s Market, so by all means, enjoy!
Dr. William Lagakos received a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology from Rutgers University where his research focused on dietary fat assimilation and integrated energy metabolism. His postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Diego, centered on obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Dr. William Lagakos has authored numerous manuscripts which have been published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as a non-fiction book titled The Poor, Misunderstood Calorie which explores the concept of calories and simultaneously explains how hormones and the neuroendocrine response to foods regulate nutrient partitioning. He is presently a nutritional sciences researcher, consultant, and blogger.
1. Jayakumar P, Pugalendi KV, Sankaran M. Attenuation of hyperglycemia-mediated oxidative stress by indole-3-carbinol and its metabolite 3, 3′- diindolylmethane in C57BL/6J mice. J Physiol Biochem. Jun 2014;70(2):525-534.
2. Jiang Y, Wu SH, Shu XO, Xiang YB, Ji BT, Milne GL, . . . Yang G. Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely correlated with circulating levels of proinflammatory markers in women. J Acad Nutr Diet. May 2014;114(5):700-708 e702.
3. Kamiloglu S, Demirci M, Selen S, Toydemir G, Boyacioglu D, Capanoglu E. Home processing of tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum): effects on in vitro bioaccessibility of total lycopene, phenolics, flavonoids, and antioxidant capacity. J Sci Food Agric. Aug 2014;94(11):2225-2233.
4. Khachik F, Carvalho L, Bernstein PS, Muir GJ, Zhao DY, Katz NB. Chemistry, distribution, and metabolism of tomato carotenoids and their impact on human health. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). Nov 2002;227(10):845-851.
5. Lenzi M, Fimognari C, Hrelia P. Sulforaphane as a promising molecule for fighting cancer. Cancer Treat Res. 2014;159:207-223.
6. Macready AL, George TW, Chong MF, Alimbetov DS, Jin Y, Vidal A, . . . Group FS. Flavonoid-rich fruit and vegetables improve microvascular reactivity and inflammatory status in men at risk of cardiovascular disease–FLAVURS: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. Mar 2014;99(3):479-489.
7. Rizwan M, Rodriguez-Blanco I, Harbottle A, Birch-Machin MA, Watson RE, Rhodes LE. Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. Jan 2011;164(1):154-162.
8. Sardo CL, Kitzmiller JP, Apseloff G, Harris RB, Roe DJD, Stoner GD, Jacobs ET. An Open-Label Randomized Crossover Trial of Lyophilized Black Raspberries on Postprandial Inflammation in Older Overweight Males: A Pilot Study. Am J Ther. Aug 26 2013.
9. Sommerburg O, Keunen JE, Bird AC, van Kuijk FJ. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol. Aug 1998;82(8):907-910.
10. Stahl W, Heinrich U, Aust O, Tronnier H, Sies H. Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection. Photochem Photobiol Sci. Feb 2006;5(2):238-242.
11. Tarozzi A, Angeloni C, Malaguti M, Morroni F, Hrelia S, Hrelia P. Sulforaphane as a potential protective phytochemical against neurodegenerative diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:415078.