Gogi and acai berries, pomegranates, and even spirulina algae are taking the stage as superfood superstars. But a one-pound package of powdered algae costs $30 to $40 (and who wants to eat that anyway?!), and you’ll pay about $35 for a one-liter bottle of goji juice. But superfoods don’t have to be exotic or expensive.
Superfoods are foods that contain higher concentrations of nutrients and relatively fewer calories per serving than other foods. This includes most fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs and spices and fat-free dairy. Incorporating these nutritional superstars into your diet regularly will help ensure that you get enough of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy without blowing your budget on expensive specialty foods and supplements.
Top 10 Budget-Friendly Superfoods:
1. Beans and peas
Legumes, including kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and lentils, are an excellent source of meat-free protein, fiber, folate and potassium. Diets highs in beans and peas may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent diabetes.
2. Dark green leafy vegetables
Kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens are excellent sources of fiber, folate, Vitamins A and K and antioxidants that contribute to heart and bone health and may help to prevent some forms of cancer. Choose fresh greens in season, or purchase frozen chopped spinach and kale to incorporate into casserole and pasta dishes for the best value.
Low-fat and fat-free yogurt contains calcium and Vitamin D necessary for healthy bones, as well as potassium, which can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Choose Greek yogurt for twice the amount of protein in regular yogurt.
Related Recipe: Clean Eating Refrigerator Oatmeal (with Greek yogurt)
This ancient grain contains more protein per serving than any other grain. It also contains filling fiber, as well as iron and potassium. Try substituting quinoa for rice and couscous in grain recipes.
Related Recipe: Clean Eating Quinoa and Herb Summer Salad
5. Hot peppers
Low-calorie peppers contain cancer-fighting, heart-healthy antioxidants and Vitamin C. Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot, can also increase satiety and temporarily boost you metabolism by up to 15%.
6. Garlic and onions
Not just for adding flavor, members of the allium family, including garlic, onions, leeks and chives, are packed with polyphenols, which may help prevent stomach, breast, colon, esophageal and lung cancer.
Fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are prized for their naturally-sweet flavor, but these fruits are also bursting with a host of healthy nutrients, including fiber, Vitamins A, C and E, calcium and potassium. The antioxidants in berries may help to reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and some kinds of cancer. As a high-fiber, low-calorie sweet treat, berries can be helpful in weight control. Enjoy fresh berries in the spring and summer when they’re in season, and purchase frozen, unsweetened berries for smoothies and sauces throughout the year.
Related Recipe: Farmers’ Market Strawberry Salad
8. Broccoli and cauliflower
Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, contain powerful antioxidants that have been linked to reduced risk of several cancers. This group of vegetables is also low in calories and high in fiber and Vitamin C.
Polyphenols in cinnamon help to reduce inflammation in the body that can lead to heart disease and cancer. Sprinkle on oatmeal, coffee or toast for an added antioxidant boost.
Green and black teas contain flavonoids, which may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Just limit the amount of sugar you add to keep this healthful beverage low in calories.