While superfoods from places like the Amazon are an incredibly healthy choice, there are also many superfoods that might already be in your pantry or refrigerator that are more budget-friendly and still pack a nutritional punch. Of course, always buy what you like and will eat, rather than forcing yourself to eat a food just for its nutritional benefits. After all, there are plenty of choices. Here are 17 inexpensive superfoods easily available.
- Oats are chock full of avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart. Oats also lower cholesterol and are antimicrobial. Oats make a great winter breakfast not only to warm you up, but also to help prevent cold and flu. Don't care for the taste of oatmeal but like the benefits of oats? Try dry oats swapped in for breadcrumbs in your favorite recipe, like meatballs.
- Almonds are high in fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and calcium. One serving can provide 15 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin E. Almonds are also high in protein and great for your heart.
- Dry beans and lentils are a terrific meat substitute because they're high in protein and low in fat. They also have high amounts of fiber, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Beans have been linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer and colon cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Garlic has more than 70 active phytochemicals. One of those is allicin, which National Institutes of Health studies show decreases high blood pressure. Phytochemicals are compounds in plants (other than vitamins, minerals and macronutrients) that have a beneficial effect the body.
- Cayenne pepper's heat comes from capsaicin, which helps with congestion, high cholesterol and low metabolism.
- Celery is high in phthalides, phytochemicals that aid cardiovascular health. Eating as few as four celery sticks per day can reduce blood pressure. Be sure to buy organic, since celery is one of the "Dirty Dozen."
- Tomatoes are the most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
- Onions are major immune system boosters. They can prevent colds and even cancers and are high in in quercetin, a flavonoid that keeps your blood healthy. Onions are also known to help with allergy prevention.
- Avocado is an incredible fruit. It's a great source of carotenoids, fat-loving compounds that are heart-healthy and prevent cancer. Eating avocadoes also helps you absorb alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein from other vegetables.
- Blueberries are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and essential fatty acids.They have been linked with prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, some forms of blindness and urinary tract infections. Blueberries also help reduce cholesterol. All berries are considered superfoods, so whatever's in season will be great, too!
- Quinoa is a complete vegetable-based protein. While this superfood whole grain didn't used to have the reach it does today, it's widely available in the U.S. now. You can pick it up at most grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
- Kale is absolutely packed with nutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even some heart-healthy omega 3-fatty acids. And it's ridiculously cheap at about 60 cents per cup.
- Broccoli is high in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and cancer-fighting nutrients. Plus, it's super affordable at about $1 per serving.
- Eggs are incredible and, of course, edible. At organic eggs for about 40 cents each and they're rich in choline, which promotes brain health. They've gotten a bit of a bad rap because they are high in cholesterol, but they're great in moderation and are super high in protein. They make a perfect breakfast because proteins can keep you powered longer and allow you to stave off hunger (and potentially unhealthy snacks) until lunch. Eggs also have lutein and zeaxanthin, which help keep your eyes healthy.
- Sweet potatoes are, like most orange veggies, full of beta carotene, fiber and B-vitamins. They boost cellular health and may neutralize wrinkles and spur new, healthy skin cells.
- Green tea is full of antioxidants. In fact, so is black tea. To keep it frugal, go for an unflavored variety and kick up the flavor with honey or lemon juice.
- Dark chocolate is antioxidant rich and one of the most fun superfoods to eat. Stick to at least 70 percent cacao dark chocolate to get the greatest antioxidant punch.
Keep in touch with Kristi on Twitter @Veggieconverter