As someone who has been blessed with a fast metabolism, I didn’t pay too much attention to my diet in the past. However, my love of cycling hundreds of miles per week means I have learned the hard way about the importance of a strong and – shock! horror! – well-rounded diet.
I’ve had problems with hypoglycemia, anemia and iron deficiencies over the years, as well as depression. Improvements in my diet have helped relieve the symptoms commonly associated with these conditions.
Using so-called ‘superfoods’ is a great way to eat well, and never before have we had such easy access to so many healthy, disease-fighting, nutrition-packed foods.
There’s just one problem with our perception of superfoods: You need to break the bank to stock up on them.
This just isn’t the case, though. I’ve thrown together a list of seven of the best superfoods that have helped me deal with my problems. Best of all, they’re all easily affordable, even on the strictest of budgets. Enjoy!
7 of the Best Superfoods That Won’t Break the Bank …
Cost per pound – $2.73
Maybe I’m alone in this, but because of their long association with cream (I’m showing my British-ness here….) I always had thought of strawberries as sugar-filled and fattening.
Oh boy, was I wrong. My new best friends, strawberries, contain only 53 calories per cup. What’s even more impressive is these little gems contain more vitamin C than your longtime favorite, the orange.
Not convinced yet? Well, strawberries have been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce stress and relieve pain. Put your orange down and dig into a bowl of the red ones.
Meal idea: Strawberries are, of course, delicious to eat by themselves as a quick snack. However, if you want to be a bit more adventurous, why not make a Strawberry Delight?
Cost per pound – $1.18
I love, love broccoli.
If you haven’t used it as the main ingredient in a recipe before then you haven’t lived. It can be used to make wonderful soups, filling salads or even as a simple side dish.
Broccoli contains an incredible 148 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. It’s also been proven to relieve anemia (So, naturally, I’m a big fan.) and help prevent liver disease as well as cancer.
… Did I mention I love broccoli?
Meal idea: Pan fried broccoli with garlic and chiles.
White Button Mushrooms
Cost per pound – $1.36
Now, the naïve, narrow-minded person I used to be would turn up my nose at mushrooms. I thought they were tasteless and just filler, getting in the way of the best part of my meals.
Wrong on both counts.
Not only do I now love their flavor, but I’ve learned to embrace their health benefits. Button mushrooms are great for the immune system, plus they even can serve as a vegetarian alternative to red meat.
Meal idea: Try something a bit different by using them in spring rolls.
Cost per pound – $3.18
OK, I’ve said ‘seeds’ and I can sense you clicking away already. So let me just quickly say sunflower seeds are fantastic for your skin and help reduce headaches. Are you with me now?
They’ve also been proven to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and their high fiber content makes them the perfect workout snack.
Meal idea: Sunflower seeds are a handy snack, and are fantastic for sprinkling on salads and over cereal. However, why not try making a homemade vegetable burger with them?
Cost per bunch – $1
OK, so it might seem a little dull, but kale really is the king of all greens.
I don’t think I possibly could overstate just how much iron is packed into these little gems. A meager cup of the stuff contains an incredible 684 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin K. I’m still struggling to get my head around that.
It boasts amazing anti-inflammatory properties, helping both young and old with its ability to help reduce pains associated with sports injuries and arthritis.
Meal idea: Replace the cabbage usually used in kimchi to make a beautiful kale-inspired take on the Korean dish.
Cost per 2–pound bag –– $3
Everyone seems to have at least a few cans of black beans available in their cupboard at all times, and for good reason: They’re cheap and go brilliantly with so many dishes.
These fiber and protein-heavy beans are filling, and are a great source of iron. So, again, I’m a huge fan. As a bonus, they’ve even been shown to reduce heart disease by 20 percent.
Here’s a little tip, though: Don’t soak them overnight. Recipes often call for this, but they cook quickly anyway and taste way, way better.
Meal idea: Break out your blender for a delicious black bean and salsa soup.
Cost per pound – $2.73
Fish are always rich in nutrients, and nowhere is this more true than with salmon. This is because it contains fatty acids that help protect your heart and joints, helping to reduce the risk of arthritis and high blood pressure.
Perhaps even more interesting is eating salmon is also good for your mental health as it can help reduce the risks of developing depression. Eating salmon regularly also can benefit diabetes sufferers as it can help regulate the production of insulin, thereby reducing blood sugars levels.
Meal idea: Mix things up when it comes to crab cakes by swapping in salmon, and top them off with a lemon yogurt sauce.
What’s your favorite affordable superfood?
Benjamin Smith is a cycling enthusiast-turned-food fanatic. In between thinking about his next meals and how to make his next bike upgrade, he writes over at The Online Grill.
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