Superfoods have a notorious reputation for being expensive, and a lot of people end up grabbing fast food because they believe it’s a cheaper option. High-quality food is one of the greatest investments you can make for your health, but sometimes you just can’t afford to splurge on goji berries, chia seeds, and camu camu powder.
Fortunately, there are plenty of nutrient-packed foods proven prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and more – that won’t break the bank. It seems like a new superfood comes out every week, and it’s easy to forget about old faithful foods that actually boast a huge range of benefits. When you want to save some money, make sure you stock up on these fifteen superfoods you can find in almost any grocery store.
Blueberries contain antioxidants, fiber, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, and even copper. Fiber supports digestive health and circulation, while vitamin K protects heart health and prevents osteoporosis. Manganese increases metabolism and regulates blood sugar levels, while vitamin C improves immunity and promotes cell regeneration for healthy, youthful skin. Frozen blueberries are a great, even less expensive option, and give smoothies a creamy texture.
2. Collard Greens
Collard greens can help improve digestion and support brain health. Just one cup contains 858% of your daily vitamin K needs. This superfood boasts vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6, all essential for adrenal health, mental focus, and energy. Braised collards are delicious and nourishing, and this green leafy vegetable is equally as good in a green salad. Collard leaves are also a fantastic substitute for tortillas, making it super easy and nutritious to make your burrito free of grains or gluten.
3. Sesame seeds
Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds often come with a high price tag, but lots of people forget that sesame seeds boast fantastic health benefits. Sesame seeds are a great source of fiber, selenium, iron, and magnesium. Selenium protects cells from damage and reduces the risk of infertility and prostate cancer. Iron is crucial for blood health and muscle tone, while magnesium greatly improves circulation and digestion. These little seeds can also make a delicious heart-healthy crust on salmon, shrimp, or practically any other seafood.
Millet is a hulled grain that can be cooked to a fluffy or creamy consistency, and it’s a delicious substitute for quinoa, which often comes in at a higher price point. Millet is a great source of magnesium, copper, phosphorous, and manganese. It’s said to protect heart health, aid in the development and repair of muscles and tissues, and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are often pigeonholed as those marshmallow-covered casseroles you only find at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Not so fast – when simply steamed or roasted with some high-quality oil and sea salt, sweet potatoes are the ultimate superfood. They soothe the digestive system and support elimination with their high fiber content.
Cabbage is finally having its day in the sun as more and more people are realizing how super this food is. Cabbage comes in several different varieties, including green, red, and white, and is a member of the brassica family of vegetables. Cabbage is chock full of fiber and antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure. Cabbage can also lower cholesterol by preventing bile from absorbing fat after meals.
Adding broccoli to your diet is a great way to include more greens in your meals. Also a member of the brassica family, broccoli is full of nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals. The collagen, calcium, and vitamin K in broccoli has been shown to improve and maintain bone health. Vitamin C is essential to promoting healthy skin, and the fiber in broccoli can help prevent colon cancer. A 2015 study reported that people who consumed high amounts of dietary fiber are less likely to develop colorectal cancer.
Most nuts contain highly beneficial levels of antioxidants and nutrients, but none compare to almonds. Although traditionally thought to be very expensive, the popularity of almonds and almond milk has brought down the price over the years, and buying bulk bags of almonds at big box stores can be pretty cost effective. You can also make your own almond milk by soaking almonds in water, blending, and straining the resulting liquid. Almonds contain high levels of healthy fats (which keep you feeling full, longer), fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.
9. Black Beans
Cheap, delicious, and versatile, black beans are an often underrated, underappreciated superfood. Besides being extremely cost-effective, black beans are full of iron, phosphorus, and zinc, which are all crucial in supporting bone health. They also contain folate, which along with the lack of cholesterol in black beans, support heart health. Canned black beans can contain hidden salt, so be sure to opt for low- or no-salt varieties, or go for the dried beans instead. Rice and beans are a simple, delicious meal that can be made for a low price per serving.
10. Frozen or canned fish
Fresh fish filets, while healthy, can get very expensive. Opting for frozen or canned fish is a great way to still benefit from the nutrients in fish, without breaking the bank. Canned tuna and salmon are full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids that support brain health, and can often be purchased for around $1 per can.
The old adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has stuck around for a reason – apples contain polyphenols, a compound that improves digestion and brain health. Polyphenols act like antioxidants, fighting free-radicals found in the body and reducing inflammation that can cause chronic disease. The skin of the apple is also a great source of soluble fiber, and can help keep your digestive system regulated.
Of all legumes (think quinoa and chickpeas), lentils pack the most nutritious punch, and they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Lentils are also high in protein, containing more protein per ounce than steak. They’re also rich in magnesium, fiber, potassium, and several B vitamins. Lentils have also been shown to regulate insulin levels, contribute to better heart health, and feed good gut bacteria.
The quintessential breakfast food, eggs contain nine essential amino acids, are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are among the best sources of choline available. Though there’s been debate about their contribution to a healthy diet in the past, most modern research has shown that eggs deserve a spot at the superfood table. They’re also pretty cost-effective, with an 18-count carton of pasteurized eggs averaging a total of around $3, and have countless ways to cook them.
Carrots contain more than 50% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for adults, and that’s just the beginning. Carrots have fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and a low glycemic index score – meaning they’re unlikely to cause a blood sugar spike. Studies have also shown that the free radical-fighting antioxidants in carrots, like lutein and zeaxanthin, really can help your eyesight.
Studies have shown that blackberries, in addition to being a sweet, delicious treat, contain properties that can fight heart disease and inflammation. Research from 2013 also revealed that blackberries contain antibacterial properties, and can be effective in treating cold sores in conjunction with traditional treatments. Blackberries also contain anthocyanins - the agent that makes them purple – which have been used to treat heart and blood vessel conditions like diabetes. Frozen blackberries are picked at the ripe of freshness, and make a great addition to oatmeal for a hearty, heart-healthy breakfast.
The bottom line
Including superfoods into your diet doesn’t have to break your budget! Buying in bulk, in season, and opting for frozen or canned options are all ways to incorporate these superfoods into your diet. Focusing on what you put into your body is considered a luxury that people on tight budgets often think they can’t afford, but hopefully this list has shown that there are ways to include healthy foods for not much money.
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