You don't have to search out expensive and hard-to-find foods to get health and nutrition benefits. Many affordable and commonly available foods can be considered super foods. While you may not currently be eating these foods, adding them to your diet is both easy and budget-friendly.
Spinach, Watercress and Kale
Green leafy vegetables provide significant amounts of vitamins A, C, K, folate, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Spinach and kale supply beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, lowering your risk for heart disease, cancer and age-related vision diseases, according to MayoClinic.com. Watercress contains a phytochemical called isothiocyanate, which helps prevent cancer, according to a March 2010 article published in "The AAPS Journal." Use these veggies in soups, salads and sandwiches or add a handful to your favorite smoothie. Stir-fry kale or spinach with lemon juice or garlic and add a can of white beans for a healthy side dish.
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
Broccoli contains folate and vitamins A, C and K and may help lower your risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and vision problems, according to MayoClinic.com. Eat it raw or microwave your broccoli instead of boiling it, since this helps maintain the vitamin C. Brussels sprouts are fiber-filled and contain phytochemicals, including flavonoids, polyphenols and glucosinates. These antioxidants lower your risk for cancer and also provide some antibacterial benefits, according to a study published in "Natural Product Communications" in 2011. Roast them with olive oil for a flavorful side or add shredded brussels sprouts to your favorite salad.
Making vegetarian meals with beans helps you consume less fat and cholesterol and more fiber, thus lowering your cholesterol, and heart disease and cancer risk, according to North Dakota State University Extension. Beans provide significant amounts of iron, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, with darker beans containing more beneficial plant chemicals than lighter ones. Puree beans to replace some of the fat in baked goods or add them to pasta dishes, soups and salads.
Trade white potatoes for sweet potatoes to increase your intake of beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B-6 and C. Beta carotene lowers your cancer risk and keeps your vision healthy, according to MayoClinic.com. Make a sweet potato salad or bake sweet potatoes and top them with salsa and low-fat cheese.
Salmon and Sardines
Salmon and sardines provide protein and omega-3 fats and help prevent high triglycerides, stroke, blood clots, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to MayoClinic.com. Top toast with canned sardines or add them to pasta sauce or stews to give them more dimension. Choose wild salmon rather than farmed, as it contains fewer contaminants, according to a study published in "Environmental Science and Technology" in 2006.
Beets provide folate and vitamin C, as well as an antioxidant called lipoic acid that can help heal nerve damage, according to an article published in "Diabetes Forecast" in May 2010. Add shredded beets to salads, mix roasted beets with goat cheese, nuts and vinaigrette for a nutritious side or blend beets, berries, yogurt and honey into a smoothie.
Wheat germ, the center part of the wheat seed, is very nutrient-rich. Add wheat germ to smoothies, baked goods or cereals to increase the protein, fiber, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, folate and thiamine in your diet.
- MayoClinic.com: Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers
- Epicurious: 5 Super Foods to Eat Daily
- AARP: Add 6 Superfoods to Your Diet Now
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: 10 Great Health Foods for Eating Well
- Environmental Science and Technology: PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and Organochlorine Pesticides in Farmed Atlantic Salmon from Maine, Eastern Canada, and Norway, and Wild Salmon from Alaska
- The AAPS Journal: Molecular Targets of Dietary Phenethyl Isothiocyanate and Sulforaphane for Cancer Chemoprevention
- Natural Product Communications: Phenolic Composition, Antioxidant Capacity and Antibacterial Activity of Selected Irish Brassica Vegetables
- Food Research International: Microwave-assisted Extraction of Phenolics From Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.