It is important to think of food as being the fuel and medicine for your body. You wouldn’t fill up your extremely expensive car with the cheapest gas you could find, right? Properly fueling your body helps it to continue to run smoothly and stave off chronic diseases.
However, while all whole foods are great, some give you better nutrition on a budget. For example, lettuce is a common vegetable, but there are more cost-effective vegetables that will provide your body with higher quality nutrients.
Here are 16 nutrition-boosting superfoods that are great if you are on a budget.
1. Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon
The “super” part of this food is in its omega-3 fatty acids. Research continues to show the vast health benefits that come from this nutrient. It is important to know, however, when it comes to salmon, it is crucial to buy the correct type.
Wild-caught Alaskan salmon has the healthy levels of omega-3 fats that your body is looking for, while farmed and genetically engineered varieties do not. Almost all of the salmon that is sold in stores and marked “Atlantic salmon” actually comes from toxic fish farms, and they contain about 50% of the omega-3 fats that wild-caught Alaskan salmon do.
If you want to be really cost-conscious, canned salmon that is labeled “Alaskan Salmon” is much cheaper than buying whole pieces of salmon. There are other fish too that have the benefits from omega-3 fats, including anchovies and sardines that are canned in water.
This anti-inflammatory fruit is a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Avocados also have compounds that stop the growth of and destroy certain cancer cells.
Due to their thick outer skin, avocados are very safe to buy conventionally-grown, so you do not need to spend more money to seek out the organic ones. Also, if you keep avocados in the refrigerator, it will slow down their ripening process and save you some money if you can buy them in bulk.
Microgreens have a very high concentration of nutrients when they are in their early stages. Because of this, you do not need to eat nearly as much of them as you would a mature plant. Microgreens are usually harvested after about two weeks, or when they have grown to be 2 inches tall.
Microgreens are very accessible, as they are easy and inexpensive to grow inside at home.
Microgreens also do not have to be cooked. An easy way to get their nutritional benefit is to simply use them in your salad rather than lettuce. You can also put them on sandwiches, burgers, or tacos.
Some of the key nutrients in microgreens are vitamins C, E and K.
Kale is another leafy green that packs a punch in nutrition. The nutritional density of kale is almost unprecedented among all of the green leafy vegetables available. Kale has all of the essential amino acids, as well as 9 non-essential ones. A half a cup of raw kale will complete your entire day for vitamin A, give you 340% of the vitamin K that you need, and 67% of your vitamin C for the day. Kale also helps to keep the eyes healthy with its lutein and zeaxanthin contents.
Kale is considered to be a superfood due to its cancer-fighting agents, such as the phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory benefits help prevent and soothe arthritis, cardiovascular disease and, several autoimmune diseases.
Spinach is another leafy green that is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, and critical vitamins and minerals that help to slow the aging process.
However, it is important to remember that because spinach is high in oxalate, it must be avoided by people who have calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Spinach is best eaten raw, as boiling spinach will cause it to lose valuable nutrients such as vitamin C. In fact, after just 10 minutes of boiling, spinach loses 3/4 of its phytonutrients.
Research has shown that broccoli can actually help reduce your risk for several diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and more.
Broccoli gives your body dozens of power nutrients to support optimal health, including sulforaphane, fiber, glucoraphanin, anti-inflammatory compounds, and it also helps to boost the immune system.
Eating just three servings of broccoli each week can reduce your risk of certain cancers by over 60%. Its nutrients also help to raise testosterone levels, stop the retention of body fat, detox the body from carcinogens, and protect your muscles from exercise-induced damage.
Raw broccoli is best, as many important nutrients are lost during the cooking process.
7. Fermented Cabbage
Cabbage is great for a few reasons. First, it is inexpensive. Also, you can maximize its health benefits by fermenting it, which will also extend its shelf life. The process of fermenting foods produces a lot of health-beneficial microbes that balance the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract and boost your immune system.
Having balanced flora in your gut can help to normalize your weight, prevent type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders such as depression.
8. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is dense in natural saturated fats. These fats increase the healthy cholesterol (HDL) in your body, as well as convert the bad cholesterol (LDL) into healthy cholesterols. With more HDLs, your body is likely to have a healthier heart and a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.
You can buy coconut oil by the gallon to save money. Because coconut oil is very resistant to oxidation, it retains its health benefits if it is exposed to air.
9. Organic, Pastured Eggs
Pastured eggs are an inexpensive and great source of high-quality protein and fat, among other nutrients. Just one egg has nine essential amino acids, as well as high-quality protein, lutein to benefit your eyes, choline to benefit your brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and B12.
To get the most nutrition out of your eggs, eat them as close to raw as you can. Some good ways to do this are to poach or soft boil them.
Scrambled and fried eggs are not very beneficial to your health, as this process of cooking the egg oxidizes the cholesterol in the yolk. It is also important for several health reasons to include the yolk when eating eggs because it holds many health benefits that the egg white does not.
Berries are a great superfood as they are loaded with health-benefitting vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Their antioxidant power fights free radicals and inflammation as well. Some of the most valuable antioxidants that can be found in berries are:
- ellagic acid
Studies say these antioxidants can help protect cells and stave off disease.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the best dietary sources of bioactive compounds that are associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, cancer, inflammation, and diabetes.
One cost effective way to purchase berries is to buy them frozen. Berries tend to go bad quickly, but when they are frozen, they are done so at the peak of their freshness, so those health benefits are maintained.
Kiwi is rich in vitamins C, E, and K, fiber, potassium, and powerful antioxidants that help keep chronic diseases at bay. Studies have also found that kiwis have been shown to lower blood pressure.
While some fruits, such as acerola cherries, are better, they are not available commercially in the United States and must be grown in subtropical environments. These cherries are less than one-tenth of the size of a kiwi, yet contain even more vitamin C.
12. Grassfed Beef, Beef Liver, and Butter
Switching to organic grass fed from grain-fed animal products that come from concentrated animal feeding facilities is worth the price because you will get higher quality nutrients and a decreased exposure to bacteria and antibiotics.
Organ meat, in general, is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are lacking in the average diet. Liver, especially, is more nutrient-dense than any other food, with its top nutrients including:
- bioavailable iron
- B vitamins
- vitamin D
When it comes to grass-fed butter, it is much more healthy for your heart than grain-fed, and it is also rich in CLA, which helps to diabetes and fight cancer. It is also important to note that this butter should be labeled as “raw”.
For a more cost-friendly option, you can make your own butter from grass-fed milk. You might also be able to find grass-fed butter at a local farmers market.
When it comes to your health, just make sure to always avoid margarine or spreads. These are in no way beneficial to your body.
13. Raw Yogurt and Kefir
Many commercial yogurt products are essentially glorified desserts that are made with a lot of sugar. However, yogurt and kefir that is made from organic, cultured, raw, grass-fed milk are very beneficial for your health and considered to be a real superfood. They provide your gut with a wide variety of healthy bacteria, high-quality protein, B-vitamins, calcium, and even linoleic acid.
Organic yogurts are actually typically less expensive than heavily processed yogurts, which makes this a great choice for your budget. Your best (and least expensive) bet is to make homemade kefir or yogurt with organic grass-fed milk. It is surprisingly easy to do and it requires nothing other than milk, some starter sugar, and some jars.
Mushrooms are actually very beneficial in boosting the immune system. Mushroom are actually so beneficial to your health that they help prevent and treat cancer.
Mushroom are also rich in fiber, protein, vitamin C, B-complex, calcium, selenium, minerals, and specific antioxidants that are only present in mushrooms. One of these antioxidants is ergothioneine, which has been recently discovered to be a super-antioxidant.
Make sure the mushrooms you eat are organic because mushrooms absorb toxins from air, soil, and water. It is a great idea to grow your own mushrooms, however, you should avoid picking them up in the wild unless you are positive you know exactly what you’re picking, as certain mushrooms are deadly.
Onions are a strong anti-inflammatory food that also helps to fight cancer. Research has actually shown that the stronger the flavor that an onion has, the more anti-cancer benefits it has as well. Even cooked onions have anti-cancer compounds.
Onions also help protect against heart disease and neurological decline. Onions can also inhibit certain enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract that helps to prevent obesity and diabetes, and support healthy blood sugar.
The outer layer of an onion contains the most antioxidants, so it is best to peel off only the outermost layer prior to consuming this super-food.
16. Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate in a dense source of nutrition with many health benefits, including:
- help to maintain blood sugar
- helps to maintain blood pressure
- supports the immune system
- helps to absorb proteins, fats, and
- promotes healthy insulin secretion
- helps preserve lean body tissue
Whey protein concentrate is a powerful superfood, as it is a rich source of amino acids and the best food for maximizing glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide that is found in every cell of your body and is known as the body’s strongest antioxidant.
Being on a tight budget does not mean that you can not eat a healthy diet. Stick to these inexpensive superfoods to stay healthy while also saving money.
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