10 Seriously Cheap Superfoods
10 Seriously Cheap Superfoods
On a shoestring budget? That doesn't mean you can't have a healthy diet. Try these wallet-friendly superfoods. Specialty food stores not required.
Few foods can hold a candle to this leafy green. Kale is full of vitamins, minerals and health-enhancing antioxidants. Indeed, kale's filling fiber, bone-building calcium and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help support the body’s natural detox system, getting rid of harmful compounds that are thought to cause cancer, heart disease and other serious ills. And what a bargain it is too, at just about 60 cents a cup. Plus, kale is easy to prepare. Simply remove the center ribs of its leaves, then slice it into thin ribbons. Add this healthful pick to soups and stews in the last 20 minutes of cooking, or sauté it with a splash of olive oil for a delicious side dish.
Eating this brilliant vegetable is like giving your body a beauty treatment, thanks to its high concentration of beta carotene (the healthful antioxidant that gives this spud its orange hue). Beta carotene, which has been shown to help every cell in the body stay healthy, also happens to be a skin-targeted nutrient. Studies have shown it neutralizes wrinkle and sun spot-spurring damage from the sun and helps generate new, healthy glowing skin cells. Sweet potatoes are also packed with a slew of figure-friendly fiber and energizing B-vitamins -- all for just 43 cents a serving. Bake them whole or mash them with a bit of milk.
Who needs expensive, over-hyped, tropical fruit when you can get serious healing power from a home-grown variety for a fraction of the price? Dried cranberries rank among the highest antioxidant contents of any fruit, which means they may help reduce cancer and heart disease risk. Plus, they contain unique compounds that help prevent urinary tract and other pesky infections. What’s more, far from making a dent in your wallet, dried cranberries cost mere pocket change -- just 50 cents a cup. Toss them into salads, bake them into muffins or toss them into your morning cereal.
Moo juice is so common that we tend to overlook its power and value. Here’s a friendly reminder: One 8-ounce glass of milk is chock-full of 9 essential nutrients, many of which most of us fall short, including bone-building calcium, heart-healthy potassium, and vitamin D. All for about a quarter a glass! Besides drinking milk straight-up, nice and cold, you can use it for lattes, in smoothies and in hot cocoa. Put it in your morning cereal or use it for puddings. Be sure to buy non-fat or 1 percent low-fat products to reap its potent health power for the fewest calories.
Don’t be fooled by their small size, pinto beans pack a huge nutritional punch. They are loaded with figure-friendly protein, filling fiber, energizing B vitamins and heart-helping antioxidants. In fact, pinto beans take the budget super-food prize because they have one of the highest antioxidant counts of all beans and cost the least, a mere 13 cents a cup. Add pinto beans to your favorite chili recipe or mash them with some chicken broth, sautéed onion and garlic for a creamy side dish. The pinto possibilities are endless.
At only 70 calories and 20 cents each, eggs are one of the best nutritional bargains around. They are protein packed and a top dietary source of choline, an essential vitamin that has been shown to promote brain health. They are also loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, potent antioxidants which have been shown to enhance eye health. Note: Most of the vitamin and minerals in eggs are stored in its yolks so if you only spoon up their whites you’ll miss out. Just stick to no more than seven whole eggs a week (to keep your cholesterol in check) and strive to eat them boiled or poached instead of fried. One simple way to squeeze them in: Hard boil a few eggs at the start of the week so you have them on hand for a quick and healthy snack.
Surprise: You don’t have to spend big bucks on fancy teas to get a potent health punch. Regular black tea can easily fit the bill. Why? Its packed with flavanoids (protective compounds that neutralize health-damaging particles called free-radicals) therefore helping the health of every cell in our bodies. Plus, studies show tea sippers have less skin wrinkling as they age. So drink up! Up to six cups a day is suggested -- iced or hot. At only 5 cents per tea bag you can afford to. Just keep sweeteners to a minimum so you don’t add empty calories to your cup. Sensitive to caffeine? Keep your tea intake to early in the day, since decaf and herbal varieties don’t offer the same flavanoid benefits.
There’s an array of costly grains with super-food status in today’s markets, but there’s one inexpensive health hero you most likely already have in your cupboard -- oatmeal. Simple rolled oats are packed with essential minerals like immune-boosting zinc, magnesium and iron as well as chock-full of protective antioxidants called flavanoids that have been shown to reduce disease-causing inflammation in the body. But their real star power comes from their fiber. Oats are one of the top sources of soluble-fiber, the kind that can help sweep cholesterol out of the body and help keep blood sugar from rising too quickly. Buy plain oatmeal and gussy it up yourself for breakfast with fruit or simply sub in oats instead of breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe.
Good news: You can have all the benefits of wild salmon at a fraction of the cost by buying canned salmon. Fresh or canned, experts say a 4-ounce portion of salmon provides a day’s worth of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial fat that has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. This food also provides the daily value for vitamin D, while supplying other important minerals. Both fresh wild and canned salmon are also low in contaminants such as mercury and PCBs. Use canned salmon just as you would use canned tuna: Flake it into your summer pasta salad or mix it with a touch of mayo, mustard, lemon juice, chopped onion and celery and serve it on a sandwich.
Just one cup of this luscious fruit gives you 80 percent of the daily value for immune-boosting vitamin C, 25 percent of vitamin A (in its antioxidant form, beta-carotene), 7 percent potassium and 3 grams of filling fiber, not to mention all the healing power you get from its wealth of phenols, plant compounds that have potent antioxidant activity. You get this huge health bang all for just 110 calories and about 50 cents. To properly prep a mango, first slice a bit off its bottom so the fruit stands upright on your cutting board. Then, cut straight down along both sides of the pit to remove the fruit. Afterwards, just peel and cut into slices or chunks. Two other suggestions: Try blending mango with a carton of yogurt, a handful of ice and a touch of honey for a tasty smoothie or serving it as a salad sliced with avocado and red onion with a squeeze of lime.