Every other month, the media declares a new “superfood.” First, it was kale, then broccoli was hailed as a longevity food. Then, supplemental ingredients like spirulina, maca, and raw cacao became household terms.
The reason foods such as cauliflower and bee pollen are referred to as “superfoods” is because they are very nutrient-dense. This means that your body receives more vitamins and minerals from a small serving of one of these than in pounds of other fruits and vegetables (note: this is mainly due to modern and unsustainable mono-agriculture methods).
While it is true many so-called “superfoods” can support better health, few can be found for an economical price. As a result, only the affluent tend to indulge in products such as raw, local honey and goji berries. If one knows which superfoods to look for, however, they can support optimal health and adhere to a budget.
Following are the top 10 most economical superfoods and tips on how to utilize them.
1) Coconut Oil
Organic, unrefined coconut oil lines the shelves of most supermarkets and health food stores. Because it is rich in medium-chain fatty acids and, therefore, helps aid weight loss, supports the brain, and supports healthy skin, hair, and nails, it has been dubbed a “superfood.”
Fortunately, coconut oil can be found for an economical price. As OneGreenPlanet reports, 78 ounces of coconut oil costs approximately $22.99. This healthy ingredient is easy to use, can be substituted for other oils in recipes, and has been documented to assist a variety of bodily functions.
Get your daily dose of coconut oil by whipping up this Tropical Cheesecake and indulging in a slice or two. It's raw and vegan.
2) Organic Strawberries
Organic strawberries are most definitely a superfood. This is because the tiny, juicy berries are rich in phenols like anthocyanin and ellagitannin, antioxidants that protect the organs by defending autosomal cell membranes.
Strawberries have also been found to defend against cancer, support a healthy heart, and reduce inflammation in the body. Buying organic is recommended, as conventional strawberries are one of the most highly sprayed crops. This means they are covered with more pesticides, some of which are neurotoxins and cancer-causing.
Incorporate strawberries into your diet by making this simple raw and vegan cheesecake with a strawberry compote.
Why is quinoa believed to be the “supergrain" of the future? Because it is a complete protein, meaning it is comprised of all essential amino acids. Furthermore, quinoa contains nearly 2x as much fiber as other grains and is rich in iron, magnesium, riboflavin, and manganese. These nutrients support everything from healthy blood cell production to improved energy metabolism to tissue growth and repair.
Since quinoa was determined to be a super crop, its price has stabilized. You can now find organic quinoa for $4.99 a pound in most grocery stores. This amount yields four-and-a-half cups — plenty to include in several recipes.
Boost your health by making a loaf of this superpower quinoa & oat banana bread.
Bananas are one of the most widely-consumed fruits in the world — and for good reason. The fruit is high in potassium and fiber, may prevent asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, digestive problems, and cancer, and is incredibly tasty and easy to add to recipes.
Though conventional wisdom suggests bananas are too high in sugar and carbohydrates, the truth is they are packed with nutrition and, as a result, should be considered a “superfood.” Fortunately, bananas can be found in most grocery stores for between 45-80 cents a pound.
Aside from eating bananas individually, you can consume more by making your own Banana 'Nice' Cream.
5) Sweet Potatoes
The starchy tubers are delicious when mashed, baked, or fried. Fortunately, they are also highly nutritious and can be found at an affordable price.
Not only are sweet potatoes a great source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), they are packed with vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of dietary fiber, niacin, vitamins B1 and B2, and potassium.
Organic sweet potatoes can be purchased for as little as $1.20 a pound. Though they cost slightly more than white potatoes, they contain far more nutrition.
Here are 15 must-make sweet potato dinners that are vegan and economical.
6) Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
Did you know — table salt is not the same as Himalayan pink sea salt. In fact, the former is highly processed and contains few minerals. Himalayan pink sea salt, on the other hand, is abundant in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. These minerals aid the body in processing sodium chloride and help maintain a healthy electrolyte balance.
This recipe for chickpea-zucchini 'meatballs' with pasta and marinara sauce calls for Himalayan pink sea salt.
Popeye was right all along — spinach is a superfood! The simple, leafy green vegetable is rich in calcium, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, fiber, and carotenoids.
Not only is spinach easy to cook with (add it to green smoothies or stir-frys, for instance), it is a lot cheaper than kale. At Costco, a wholesale store, one pound of baby spinach can be purchased for just $3.79.
Incorporate more spinach into your diet by indulging in this vegan spinach lasagna.
You don’t need to have a fat bank account to eat healthily and live your best life. Include some — or all — of these economical superfoods into your diet and watch your health transform.
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Mandy Froelich is an RHN, plant-based chef, certified Reiki master therapist, freelance writer, world traveler, and activist. Her passions include writing, advocating for animals and the environment, and teaching people about the benefits of nutritious food and exercise. She blogs healthy recipes at Bloom for Life and shares cannabis-infused treats at My Stoned Kitchen. You can support her work through Patreon. Thank you!