The New Year is here, and that can mean a fresh start for your finances…. and your health. With nearly ¾ of all resolutions made at the beginning of a new year relating to either losing weight or getting finances under control, let’s look at a way to make those goals achievable together: choose budget-friendly superfoods.
So what are superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that seem to offer additional health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Superfoods have the following qualities:
- Low in calories.
- Contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fatty acids.
- High in fiber.
- Contain phytochemicals that research shows may help to prevent disease.
- Rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Low in unhealthy substances such as saturated fats, trans-fats, or refined sugars.
Often, when we think of health foods, we think of expensive supplements or over-priced produce that you don’t even know how to pronounce. But superfoods don’t have to be outlandish or expensive. There are several, everyday items at your local grocery store that can provide the nutrition you need without blowing your budget:
- Beans and Peas: Legumes, including kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and lentils, are an excellent source of meat-free protein, fiber, folate and potassium.
- Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables: Kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens are excellent sources of fiber, folate, Vitamins A and K, calcium, and antioxidants.
- Berries: Most of us just eat berries because we like the naturally sweet flavor, but, berries are also bursting with a multitude of healthy nutrients, including fiber, Vitamins A, C and E, calcium, and potassium. Don’t forget that frozen berries can provide the same nutrients as fresh berries, which may not be available year-round.
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cabbage: This group of vegetables is also low in calories and high in fiber and Vitamins A, C, and K.
- Cinnamon: Polyphenols in cinnamon help to reduce inflammation in the body.
- Low-fat, plain yogurt: Loaded with calcium, potassium, protein, and probiotics.
- Eggs: contain 12 vitamins, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory.
- Nuts: should be eaten in small quantities because they are higher in fat. However, they are also a good source of protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants.
- Quinoa: whole-grain, good source of protein
- Salmon: low in calories, low in saturated fat; high in protein and iron
- Sweet Potatoes: high in Vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium
Now, you may be thinking that nuts and quinoa can be expensive when compared to substitute items. And the truth is, they are more expensive. However, think about how much it costs to buy processed, pre-packaged meals and it is certainly less than that. A one-pound bag of almonds or walnuts or one box of quinoa can be used as part of several meals, so even though it costs a bit more up-front, it will help stretch your dollars in the long run.