The Best Super Foods for Your Money

The Best
Super Foods for Your Money

Some of the most healthy foods are downright affordable

Grocery store checkout with super foods

The world of nutrition and eating well is often mired in misinformation. And one of the greatest misconceptions is that healthy food is way more expensive that the easy, not-so-good-for-you variety. But you don't have to spend a lot to eat well. In fact, some of the most nutrient-dense super foods are downright affordable. Packed with fat-shredding fiber, muscle-building minerals and vitamins, along with health-boosting polyphenols and antioxidants, these superfoods give the body more of the nutrients it needs in order to run optimally. Of course, some can be more expensive than others, but here are five of the most affordable superfoods that provide the most nutritional bang for your buck.

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The Most Affordable Super Foods

Cooked lentils

Lentils

Lentils are nutrient-dense legumes rich in polyphenols, iron, calcium, magnesium, fiber and protein. Whether they are brown, green, black or red, these tiny gems can do everything from protect against heart disease to prevent congenital disabilities. Simple to cook, they don't require soaking like beans and are easy to incorporate into soups and salads. Lentils are also an economical protein source as meat is more expensive, has a shorter shelf life and is also full of saturated fat with no fiber. Swap lentils in for any recipe that calls for ground meat. Plus, a bag of lentils goes a long way as dry lentils tend to double in volume when cooked.

Frozen blueberries

Frozen blueberries

High in vitamin C, K and manganese, blueberries are also rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins—a flavonoid that gives this fruit their deep, dark hue. Known as the vision fruit, blueberries help prevent eye afflictions such as age-related macular degeneration. They are great for regulating blood sugar levels and assisting in muscle recovery, especially after exercise. Additionally, blueberries also have cardiovascular benefits and can help prevent neurodegenerative disease. They are particularly great for the skin, managing diabetes, strengthening bones and improving brain function. Best of all, the adaptable berries can be used in desserts, salads and smoothies. Choose frozen blueberries over fresh if you are looking to get the most for your dollar as both deliver the same nutritional and health benefits but frozen blueberries tend to be significantly less expensive.

Raw kale

Kale

Kale has strong cancer prevention properties largely due to its high concentration of flavonoids and carotenoids. It's also high in vitamin C and K, and just one cup of kale provides more than your daily Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin C, which helps the body produce collagen and protects cells from free radicals, as well as vitamin K, which promotes bone growth. Kale is also incredibly versatile. It can be baked into kale chips, or as the base for salads, or cooked into soup, or sautéed as a side dish, or tossed into pastas or smoothies. Kale is arguably one of the best and most affordable superfoods, at under $2 per bunch.

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Raw oats

Oats

Besides being delicious and versatile, oats (and oatmeal) are also inexpensive and nutritious. Naturally gluten-free and full of fiber, oats are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants called avenanthramides, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure. These antioxidants are also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching components, thus making oats a common ingredient in facial masks and skin treatments to calm inflamed skin. Oats are easily found in any grocery store and come in a variety of options, from rolled oats—which are processed so they can cook quickly—to oat groats, which are oats in their whole form and take similar time and effort to cook as rice. Regardless of form, oats don't cost a lot and can be used for everything from oatmeal to granola bars.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are a rich plant-based source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and dietary fiber. They provide a complete protein source for vegetarians and are great for stabilizing blood sugar. They can also help maintain stamina and are extremely versatile. You can eat them as a topping on salads, tossed into a smoothie as a thickener or added to desserts for texture and a nutty flavor. They can be purchased online or at your local grocery stores. Especially when bought from the bulk bins, their price per ounce is less expensive than traditional nuts and you get more per ounce.

Your Super Food Snack

Pop yourself some popcorn. A study by the University of Scranton found that popcorn contains more health-boosting polyphenols than most fruit. What's more, these nutrients are also better absorbed when eaten with a dose of healthy fats. So feel free to drizzle your bowl of popcorn with some organic butter.

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