If you have dedicated yourself to a healthy eating plan but don’t have a great deal of cash to splash on the latest “superfood” trends then fear not as you really don’t need a lot of money to eat healthy foods. In this post I will share with you the top 10 superfoods on a budget that are not only easily affordable, but delicious too.
Now, I know you may say “I just don’t have the money to eat healthily all the time”, but having shed loads of cash really isn’t what you need to stay healthy. It’s much more about putting in the research and learning about healthy eating, allocating more time for more exercise, and home more cooking (which doesn’t have to be too time consuming if you make things in big batches then freeze), or save last night’s leftovers for lunch. Later on I will give you examples of how some of the healthiest foods on the planet are actually some of the cheapest. Prepare to have your mind blown!
I know, I know – you can buy a bag of frozen chips for £1 right? Yes, they literally are as cheap as chips, but by the same token you can buy a packet of sweet potatoes for the same price and make your own much healthier and lower fat version with virtually no more effort – except maybe a bit of chopping.
This is just one example, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going here; there really are healthy substitutes for every version of junk food imaginable, and it’s much easier to make these swaps when you know what you’re looking for.
Swapping many of your every day foods for the foods on the list below will pay dividends in terms of your health, AND will also help you to discover new foods and different ways of eating, which is half the battle on your journey to a healthy lifestyle.
Would you like a disease free future?
I obviously can’t guarantee this 100%, but making these changes could potentially save your life. We are all aware of the damage that sugar and trans fats wreak on our bodies; and we are all aware of the dangerous effects they can also have in terms of disease and illness, so this is another reason to start swapping your regular foods for healthful superfoods – to give you a slimmer and more vibrant body, and hopefully a disease free future.
For more in-depth and practical advice on clearing the rubbish out of your cupboards and changing your habits around food, please also read my post Eating Clean in 10 Easy Steps as it will give you some simple ways of overcoming your bad food habits and set you on the right track.
HEALTHY FOODS – TOP 10 SUPER FOODS ON A BUDGET
It’s worth noting that ALL of these super foods have a much higher nutrient absorption rate when either cooked, or eaten with a little healthy fat such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil or coconut oil. And most of these foods (apart from potatoes) are better when either eaten raw, or very lightly cooked. This keeps their delicate nutrients intact, thus making them more healthful.
These are my absolute number one superfood and I would encourage you to try to consume one small, or at least half a large avocado a day. You can chop them and add to your meals, smash them onto toast with a squeeze of lemon, or simply add them to your smoothies.
Benefits:- Avocado’s are high in heart friendly monounsaturated fats, full of fiber and antioxidants, and contain vitamins K, E, C, B5, B6, potassium and folate. They are also super low GI making them fantastic for those with type 2 diabetes, as they will help to keep their blood sugar stable.
On top of this, avocados also help to lower bad cholesterol, offer eye protection due to their high levels of antioxidants, AND help with a weight loss diet due to the fact they are full of fiber and are low GI. This means they will keep your blood sugar under control, and you feeling fuller and satiated for longer, thus stopping those diet busting sugar cravings in their tracks.
2. SWEET POTATOES
Swap your normal frozen chips and white potatoes for sweet potatoes. You can chip them, mash them, roast them, or do pretty much anything you would normally do with your potatoes.
Benefits:- Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s highest forms of beta carotene which is down to their bright orange colour pigment. They drastically up your blood levels of Vitamin A and antioxidants; and also contain high levels of other nutrients such as vitamin C, manganese, copper, and an array of B vitamins.
They are high in fiber and low GI – meaning they are perfect for keeping blood sugar stable and slashing your risk of type 2 diabetes along with many other diseases, especially if you eat them alongside lots of other high antioxidant and low GI foods.
Blueberries have one of the highest levels of phytonutrient’s out of ALL the common fruits and vegetables and can be bought cheaply when in season, or frozen at other times of the year.
Add them to breakfast cereals, smoothies, or make ice cream from them by whizzing them up in a blender with chunks of frozen ripe banana and a little coconut milk, or even some cacao powder for a chocolate flavour. If you make it thick enough it makes an absolutely delicious and healthy dessert – a bit like chocolate pudding!
Benefits:- The health benefits of blueberries are simply astounding, plus their high antioxidant content neutralises free radicals to help protect you against cancer and all sorts of other age related diseases.
They are also anti-inflammatory and help with muscle repair, plus they boost memory, lower blood pressure and heart disease risk, and like cranberries can also reduce risk of bladder infections.
4. PEANUTS AND SUGAR FREE PEANUT BUTTER
Peanuts are a really cheap plant based source of protein and are easy to incorporate as a snack, OR you can spread you peanut butter on a slice of granary toast with added sliced banana for a wholesome, filling, and inexpensive lunch.
Benefits:- High in protein, antioxidants, B-vitamins, copper, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium – peanuts certainly have a host of health benefits. These include a reduced risk of stomach cancer specifically, and due to their high resveratrol content have a protective effect against other cancer’s, heart disease, alzheimer’s, viral and fungal infections, and degenerative nerve disease.
Broccoli is one of the highest protein vegetables available, and is something you would do well to eat every day. It is a versatile vegetable and can be sauteed with garlic, lightly steamed, added to stir-fry’s, or finely chopped and eaten raw in salads.
Benefits:- High in fiber and vitamins B6, B1, A, E, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, niacin, omega 3 fatty acids, and iron. Broccoli also helps prevent and treat many types of cancer due to its strong anti carcinogenic compounds and nutrients.
It is a great detoxifyer with fantastic anti aging properties and lowers risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, helps treat anemia due to its high levels of iron, boosts bone health, eye health, and also immunity.
Beetroot is another cheap and versatile super food that is just choc full of nutrients. You can eat it raw, grated into salads, steamed, or roasted in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can also juice it with carrots and ginger for a fantastic veggie juice. Beetroot is often used by athletes for its endurance qualities – that’s how fab it is!
Benefits:- Beetroot’s bright red colour comes from its antioxidant compound betalain, which happens to be a great cancer preventative. It also offers immune support, helps reduce bad cholesterol, slows down dementia, and supports the liver by helping to prevent fatty deposits forming.
7. FROZEN PEAS
Frozen green garden peas are full of protein, AND they are literally cheap as chips – if not cheaper! The great thing about frozen produce is it’s usually a lot more cost efficient than fresh, and often has more nutrients as it is almost always immediately frozen after it is picked or harvested, which is when it is at its nutritional peak.
Fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients quickly after picking, so the faster they are picked and eaten or frozen, the better.:
Peas can be boiled and added as a side dish with any meal; or you can jazz them up with a squeeze of lemon juice and some flaked almonds (there’s another 2 more superfoods for you right there!).
Benefits:- The humble green pea boasts one of the most nutrient dense profiles so far on this list; in fact it’s simply astonishing the amount of bang you get for your buck with peas.
Peas offer a huge array of nutrients:-
For starters. green peas are rich in vitamin K, C, E, B6, B2, beta carotene, copper, phosphorus, manganese, folate, niacin, molybdenum, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, choline, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids; plus they also contain antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. They are also low on the glycemic index scale, so great for weight management.
As well as all these above mentioned wonderful benefits, peas have recently been found to contain unique phytonutrients called saponins which can actually pretty much ONLY be found in green peas. And when combined with all their other nutrients the benefits are far more outreaching than have been previously recognised.
Peas are also of great benefit to those with obesity, diabetes, and blood sugar problems as they are yet again another low GI food that will help keep blood sugars stable.
8. BAKED BEANS IN TOMATO SAUCE
Oh yeah, of course I had to go there! Baked beans are a good old British staple that I’m not even sure the rest of the world knows about, but these truly are a thing of greatness aren’t they? We eat these with everything and anything in Britain, and if you’re stuck for a cheap, high protein, and easy to prepare meal then beans on granary toast have everything you could possibly want. Comfort food at its finest 🙂
If you can, buy the sugar free or lower sugar versions to make sure the benefits aren’t lost in that extra 4 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR that is in just one can of beans.
Benefits:- Not only are baked beans full of iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, folic acid, and B6, but baked beans also contain more vitamins and minerals than red meat making them a great substitute for vegetarians and vegans, or those just trying to cut their meat intake down.
Baked beans are full of the antioxidants which help to fight free radicals in the body, and when eaten 4 times a week can lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease. They are also a fantastic weight loss food as they are low GI, high in protein and fiber, but also low in fat – basically, all the features needed for slimming!
Bananas just had to go on the list as you can usually buy a bunch of them for under a quid, and they are a filling and easy to eat on the go snack. Great just to have in your bag in case of a snack attack emergency, as they will fill a hole and stop you snacking on less desirable junk foods.
Benefits:- High in fiber so great for dieters- bananas are also great for helping alleviate depression and anxiety due to their high B Vitamin content, which just so happens is great for the central nervous system. They are also a source of potassium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Bananas are also heart friendly, help lower blood sugar (especially the unripe ones), help with anemia, are anti aging due to their high levels of antioxidants, and are super gut friendly as their pectin and resistant starch act as a prebiotic, thus soothing IBS symptoms.
10. ALL PULSES
Just think of all the different pulses out there such as kidney beans, chick peas, pinto beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans, and black beans. I’m sure you can think of more, but the point I’m going to make is they can ALL be used in place of meat to make many different plant based dishes including bean chili’s, hummus, bean burgers, falafel, chickpea curry… find many more on the internet under vegan dinner’s.
Benefits:- As well as their impressive fiber and protein profile; pulses contain high doses of zinc, iron, folate and magnesium, and their phytonutrients, tanins and saponins have antioxidant and anti cancer effects. They are also another low GI food, so perfect for dieters and diabetics.
If you enjoyed this post and would like more information on beginning a plant based diet, then please read my plant based diet for beginners ‘How To Guide’ for step by step instructions on how to ease yourself into this awesome life changing lifestyle.
Here are some healthy eating meal ideas that you may find helpful too!