A healthy diet doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be expensive. Wellness isn’t really wellness if it’s not sustainable. There are lots of affordable, nutrient-dense foods you can purchase without breaking the bank. Some healthy foods are actually cheaper than processed junk foods!

What makes a food a superfood anyway? To be honest, there isn’t a scientific definition; “superfood” is a marketing term. A superfood is described as any food containing high amounts of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. These superfoods’ health benefits result from studies done on specific essential nutrients, and the foods they are found in that are known to prevent disease and improve immunity in large amounts. Studies show that if a specific food contains a high concentration of antioxidants and trace minerals and vitamins, it gets to be referred to as a superfood. If you’re on a budget (and honestly, who isn’t?!), look for these key supercharged natural foods and enjoy their associated health benefits.

Lentils

Cost Per Serving (1 cup): 20¢

An easy way to eat cheap, healthy, and quickly, lentils are a staple for budget-friendly cooking. Lentils are high in fiber and protein (8 grams and 9 grams per half-cup, respectively), making them great for your microbiome, metabolism, and satiety. Dry bulk lentils cook up in only 15 to 30 minutes and don’t need to be pre-soaked. 

Almonds

Cost Per Serving (1 oz.): 71¢

Why almonds are so good for you: A 1-ounce serving (23 nuts, 162 calories) has 37 percent of your daily value for vitamin E, which is good for your immunity and skin health. Almonds also deliver some calcium, fiber folate, good fat, and some protein. If your grocery store has a bulk section, head there for your nuts and the seeds-this way, you can buy just the amount you need for cheaper than the pre-bagged options.

Tea

Cost Per Serving (1 teabag): 11¢

Tea, especially green tea, has lots of healthy boons. Both green and black tea are loaded with antioxidants, which may boost your immune system and promote heart health. 

Cabbage

Like kale and Brussels, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, and diets rich in cruciferous vegetables are linked to lower cancer rates and also help to excrete excess estrogen. Low in calories, it’s also is an excellent source of vitamins C and K and delivers fiber and detoxifying sulfur compounds. That’s quite a bit for one of the cheapest veggies in the produce department.

Bagged Spinach

Bagged spinach is almost always reasonably priced. Most stores carry it for about $2 per 9-ounce bag. Spinach is rich in vitamin K, which is needed to help vitamin D play an essential role in bone health and reduce heart disease and cancer risk. Also, spinach provides immune-boosting vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and manganese. Incorporating spinach into your diet is simple. You can throw handfuls into salads, casseroles, and soups or blend them into smoothies for a nutrient boost.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the cheapest +healthiet vegetables you can buy, providing an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals. They are exceptionally high in beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes also contain a sweet amount of B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. They are relatively easy to prepare by steaming, baking, or roasting. Making a batch for the week is a perfect way to satisfy your low glycemic starchy carb AND your sweet tooth. 

Canned Tomatoes

They are very nutritious and relatively affordable. Studies show that tomatoes may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Much of their health benefits are attributed to their antioxidant lycopene content. Canned tomatoes are a handy superstar staple in your pantry. Add to soups, casseroles, and stews.

Berries

Berries are considered nutrition rockstars and are reasonably priced year-round when purchased frozen, no matter where you shop. Berries are consistently touted to be one of the best sources of natural antioxidants. Berries make for a delicious snack or healthy dessert and can be added to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and salads.

Apples

Apples are generally cheap year-round. A medium apple contains three grams of fiber and trace minerals as several antioxidants. They are an easy, convenient, portable food to add to your diet. 

Quinoa

Quinoa looks pricey, but if you break it down, it isn’t. A 26 oz bag of Organic Quinoa (Bob’s Red Mill Brand) was $10.49 on Amazon or .40 per ounce. A 26-ounce bag contains 4 cups (1 cup of raw quinoa expands to 4 cups of cooked quinoa). You can also buy cheaper in bulk. If you eat a ¼ cup of quinoa at a meal or put some in a salad or cereal, you don’t have to be good in math to see that quinoa makes filling, healthy, budget-friendly protein. A single cup of uncooked quinoa contains 24 grams of all nine essential amino acids protein.

Canned Salmon, tuna, and sardines 

One of the OG pantry heros has to be canned fish. You’re not giving up nutrition when opting for canned. It has a long shelf life, but it’s inexpensive and packed with nutrition, protein, and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Christina C Wilson MS, CNS, LN

Coaches

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