Oh, Girl. We know how expensive living well can get. Lately, we’re addressing the costs associated with living well across the board (read more here). Wellness isn’t really wellness if it’s not sustainable.
This list from the smarties at Food Matters will help you pack in more nutrient-dense foods more often and with less sticker shock. How many of these budget superfoods are you ready to roll into your daily routine?
You’ll find no shortage of celebrities endorsing various superfoods all over the Internet and social media — which is all well and good until you get a closer look at the price of these super expensive life enhancers. You don’t need to burn a hole in your wallet to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. Keep reading for delicious, healthy and affordable alternatives to so-called superfoods. I like to call them supercharged foods.
What’s So Super About Superfoods?
What makes a food a superfood? To be honest, there isn’t a concrete definition; the name superfood is actually a marketing term, not a scientific one. A superfood is described as any food that contains high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. Antioxidants are well known for their ability to strengthen the immune system, thereby warding off diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes).
The health benefits of these superfoods are the result of studies done on specific essential nutrients (and the foods they can be found in) that are known to prevent disease and improve immunity, in large amounts. If studies show that a specific food contains high concentrations of antioxidants and trace minerals and vitamins (such as vitamin C, K and B) then it can then be referred to as a superfood.
How Accessible Are Superfoods?Each time a new study is released shedding light on the health benefits of a specific food, the media runs with this information by publishing news stories about these newly researched superfoods. In 2014, kale farmers struggled to keep up with the new demand for kale after several studies reported that kale contained high levels of antioxidants and other essential nutrients — and this left many supermarkets out of stock.
The media has a lot of influence over consumers, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of eating healthy, wholesome foods. So it’s no surprise that supermarkets take advantage of this by drastically increasing the price of these foods.
However, some studies can be misleading, and the results reported can be misinterpreted by the media and consumers. Just because studies have reported that a specific food (such as blueberries) contain large amounts of antioxidants, it doesn’t mean that you have to start eating blueberries every day to maintain vibrant health.
Seasonal Superfoods Matter
Superfoods aren’t the only foods that contain essential nutrients. And by eating a balanced diet that is full of variety, you can guarantee that you’re eating enough essential nutrients without even picking up a superfood. It’s safe to say that the superfoods market is booming, and supermarkets and pharmaceutical companies are taking full advantage of it. But the hype of superfoods tends to shine a negative light on many other beneficial whole foods.
Apples and oranges are neglected for berries; rice and pasta are replaced with teff and ancient grains. But why should superfoods be thought of as healthier than other unprocessed foods or supercharged foods? Is it because they cost more in the supermarket? Maybe it’s because the local news reported a story about kale, but not English spinach.
The take-home message? Fill your shopping cart with good, unprocessed healthy foods and try to buy what’s in season — usually the fruits and vegetables on special, by the way.
Common Superfoods + Their Nutrients
If you’re on a budget and want to experiment with more affordable alternatives, look for these key supercharged natural foods and enjoy their associated health benefits.
Kale | large amounts of vitamin A, K and C
Avocado | monounsaturated fats, fiber and vitamin C
Blueberries | antioxidants, manganese, polyphenols, vitamin C and K
Chia Seeds | omega-3 essential fatty acids
Quinoa | large amounts of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B
Coconut Water | natural sugars and electrolytes
Broccoli | contains high amounts of vitamin C, calcium and fiber
Spinach | folate, fiber, vitamin C and iron
Sweet Potato | niacin, vitamin A and C
Kiwi Fruit | fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and phytochemicals
Buckwheat | fiber, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus
Sardines, Salmon + Mackerel | high levels of protein and omega 3 unsaturated fats
Nuts | zinc, iron and unsaturated fat
Water | helps carry nutrients and oxygen to cells (and if both are in low supply can lead to fatigue and nausea)
What are your favorite budget superfoods? Share in the comments!