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Cheap and Inexpensive Superfoods

Keep an eye on your health and your budget with these low-cost superfood alternatives.

Food is not a medicine. It cannot cure ailments or diseases, even if food has healthful properties. Green leafy vegetables and colorful fruits are not magic pills, even if they are packed with nutrients. The closest food gets to having a restorative effect is a small category of superfoods. They are natural, from the earth, (or naturally derived, such as soy products), and minimally processed.

But you may also know superfoods as some of the most expensive options in the produce section. Blueberries, goji berries, walnuts, salmon, and acai—they’re all great in cancer and heart disease prevention and weight loss regimens. But so expensive!

Here are some ways to get the benefit of superfoods without paying superfood prices.

Beans
Yes, the humble bean packs a punch. Beans (aka legumes) come in many fashions, from lentils to pinto to garbanzo. Cans at the market are as low as 99-cents each, but if you can plan your meals a day ahead, dried beans are as low as 25-cents a pound. Just soak them the night before. Jazz beans up with Indian or Mexican spices. Beans are a popular vegetarian and vegan substitute for meat because they’re loaded with protein.

Broccoli
Nothing shouts healthy like a head of broccoli. They look like trees, so they must be healthy! Broccoli is actually a great detoxifier. I bet you didn’t know that broccoli has a ton of vitamin C and vitamin K. What’s vitamin K? It’s found in many green, leafy (cruciferous) veggies like broccoli, and is crucial for blood health. At just over one-dollar per pound, broccoli is a powerfully cheap veggie. Try baking it at 400F for 12 minutes for a crunchy, rich green flavor.

Sweet Potatoes
They’re not just for Thanksgiving. Substitute the orange colored sweet potatoes for baking or waxy potatoes. Mash them or bake them with your favorite herbs, and you’ve got one of the most incredibly packed vitamin A vegetables. They’re filling and cheap, too—usually under 99-cents a pound.

Shitake Mushrooms
One of the most delicious and plentiful mushroom varieties is shitake. They’re small and easy to use, and totally full of important minerals. Mushrooms are a wonder of nature, growing in forests and on felled logs, yet they inhibit the growth of cancer cells, strengthen the immune system, and are heart-healthy. I can get a big pack of luscious shitakes at my market for about two-bucks a pound.

Other inexpensive superfoods that are easy to add to your shopping cart include tofu, eggs, peanut butter, prunes, and bananas. Happy and healthy eating!

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