It is a long held perception that to eat healthy you have to pay over the top. The so-called superfoods that have multifold health benefits and can do wonders to your health, come with a price tag. And, those who are running a tight ship, often find it difficult to eat these health foods on regular basis.
However, it isn’t necessary that everything healthy would bottom-out your budget. The healthy food items such as bananas, potatoes and peanut butter can be bought for cheap. Going for in-season foods and shopping locally grown foods can further bring down your costs. Another smart strategy is buying in bulk. If you feel the fruits are going bad, you can dice and freeze them up.
With these smart strategies and below listed super cheap foods, eating healthy wouldn’t be too burdensome for your pocket. Next time you hit the market, go for these expert backed food items to supercharge your fitness routine.
You can buy one ounce of bananas in well under a dollar. The immense health benefits and the versatility of this creamy fruit make it one of the best health investments. Bananas are the most convenient source of natural potassium. This mineral plays key roles in several different body functions. Among other things, potassium maintains proper heart function and regulates normal blood pressure. It is also beneficial for your kidneys and bones.
The presence of pectin enzyme makes banana good for digestion. In fact, it is recommended to those who are suffering from an upset stomach. The pectin also gently flushes out toxins and heavy metal out of the body. Also, banana acts as a prebiotic and stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel. It also stimulates digestive enzymes, which in turn aids in better absorption of nutrients. Other gastrointestinal benefits of banana include relief from acid reflux and heartburn, better bowel movement and relief from stomach ulcers by coating the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.
Also, it is a great source of fiber that makes it very fulfilling. Eating bananas before a workout will give you a sustained supply of energy and will also prevent muscle cramps during the workout. Also, banana has high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin which in turn promotes happy mode and can alleviate depression. You can buy this fruit in bulk. If you see spots on bananas, peel and store it in the freezer. The frozen bananas give a great texture to your smoothies and there would be no need to add ice.
Whether it is a sweet potato, purple potato or a white potato, you need to stock them all up as each has unique health benefits. And, don’t buy into common internet wisdom that the carbohydrate content of the potatoes is bad for your health. Plus, the carbs present in potatoes fall under the resistant starch, which is slow to digest. This means there would be no insulin or sugar spike that is often wrongly associated with potatoes.
Sweet potatoes, in particular, are a nutritional powerhouse. They are well suited for weight loss as well as for bulking up. They are a good source of carotenoids, which are plant compounds that protect the cell from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It is also rich in potassium and copper. Copper assists in the production of collagen, which is responsible for keeping muscles healthy and skin taut. In addition, it is also a good source of calcium and magnesium (good for healthy bones) and manganese (which improves healing power and revs up metabolism).
White potato is the ultimate comfort food. You can mash them, bake them or roast them and you can still get nutritional benefits of this tuber food. Like sweet potatoes, it is a rich source of dietary fiber. And, coupled with the protein content, you get a very satisfying food item. Plus, they are a great source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, and pantothenic acid. Also, it has abundance of minerals or compounds that have antioxidant qualities. Among these health friendly compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid as well as patatin which is a unique tuber storage protein known to exhibit activity against free radicals.
Pumpkin isn’t just for the Thanksgiving season. This high fiber, low calorie and extremely nutritious food is an invaluable item to be kept in the pantry. A mashed pumpkin has only 50 calories per cup, and 3 grams of fiber. So, no matter in which form or recipe you eat, you will do your dieting routine a huge favor with the use of pumpkin. And, as you can eat in several different recipes and tackle one of the biggest problems associated with dieting – getting bored with eating same food day after day. Apart from the traditional pie, you can use pumpkin puree in the preparation of bread, cookies, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, smoothies and stews.
Another great thing about pumpkin is that the seeds are edible. In fact, pumpkin seeds have several health benefits of their own. Apart from high fiber content, they are a natural source of certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been found in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Plus, pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, the amino acid that helps in sleeping better by improving production of serotonin, which helps you relax and unwind.
4. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter’s creamy texture and delicious flavor makes it too sinful to be healthy. However, healthy it is. A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has more than 8 grams of protein, nearly 2 grams of dietary fiber, 208 milligrams of potassium, half a gram of iron, 24 micromilligrams of folate, 188 calories and 3 grams of sugars. Also, it has 16 grams of fat per serving but only 3 grams of those are saturated. And, the rest of the fats are mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which have proven benefits for heart and muscle health. Plus, it is extremely cost effective – 100 calories of peanut butter costs less than 10 cents.
5. Olive Oil
Experts believe that olive oil is one of the best anti-inflammatory food items. It has a phytonutrient called oleocanthal, which mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation. It is also a rich source of antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids, which can protect body from free radical damage and oxidative stress. And according to recent studies, the consumption of olive oil can help reverse metabolic syndrome, which among other things is linked with risk of diabetes. Other health benefits of olive oil include better bone health, prevention of heart disease and boost in brain power.
6. Rolled Oats
You can buy one pound of rolled oats under one dollar. And, let me tell you one thing – the rolled oats are the best breakfast option for those looking to lose weight. Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, which slows down the digestion process and will keep hunger at bay for long duration. One half cup serving of plain oats has about five grams of fiber and 150 calories. However, do refrain from going for flavored versions as they often have added sugar. To bring sweetness and flavor to the bowl of oatmeal, add diced fruit such as bananas and strawberry. Blackberries are another excellent addition to the dish.
More than often, you will suffer from hunger pangs. It is a natural thing. But, reaching for a bag of chips or salted pretzel could easily mess up all the gains you will make with a strict diet. The best option for snacking is popcorn. However, the microwave flavored popcorn doesn’t qualify. Go for the plain popcorn kernels, which have high fiber content and are loaded with health-friendly antioxidants. And, when it comes to calories, they are extremely cheap. When air-popped, the classic popcorn only contains about 30 calories per cup. Sea salt, cinnamon, Parmesan cheese, and oregano are healthy options to add flavor.
8. Frozen Broccoli
It is a commonly held belief that the fresh vegetables are best. But, in some cases, you won’t be wrong to go for frozen veggies and fruits. The best thing about them is that they are frozen at their peak conditions, which means they are at their nutritional best. The process of blanching them in hot water or steam kills bacteria and arrests food-degrading enzymes, which ensures the best quality is retained. On the other hand, the fresh vegetables are often picked before they are fully ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
And, broccoli with just 30 calories per serving, gives you excellent fiber and lots of minerals and nutrients that can help reduce inflammation, cut your risk for cancer, aid digestion and enhance your body’s natural detoxification process. Also, it is a good source of dietary fiber. And, you can buy one pound in around $1.50.