One of the most pervasive myths in all of nutrition and health writing is that healthy eating is just too expensive. While this may be true if you’re trying to go organic or doing the majority of your shopping at Whole Foods, there are plenty of healthy foods out there that are highly affordable. Check out four of the cheapest yet insanely healthy foods you can get at your grocery store.
1. Black beans
In general, beans tend to be very cheap and very nutritious as well, but black beans are quite the legume when it comes to packing a punch. Black beans contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc — all of which aid in building and maintaining strong bones. Black beans are also heart-healthy: they are low in sodium which keeps your blood pressure in a healthy range and they are also filled with fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and phytonutrient content, all of which support a healthy heart. In just one cup of cooked black beans, you get 60 percent of your daily value for fiber and 30 percent of your daily value for protein.
Lentils tend to be even cheaper than black beans, and they add an earthy, mild yet rich taste to dishes from curries to soups to salads. They also have a handful of health benefits. Like black beans, lentils are great for heart health due to their fiber, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Selenium in lentils prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates. It even stimulates T-cells, increasing the strength of your immune system. In one cup of cooked lentils, you get 63 percent of your day’s fiber and 36 percent of your day’s protein.
Oats are a highly nutritious and balanced food. They’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Let’s break it down by recommended daily intake (RDI) per half cup of dry oats:
• 191 percent of manganese
• 42 percent of phosphorus
• 34 percent of magnesium
• 24 percent of copper
• 20 percent of iron
• 20 percent of zinc
• 11 percent of folate
• 39 percent of thiamin (vitamin B1)
They’re also a unique source of avenanthramides, a group of antioxidants that helps lower blood pressure and increase healthy blood flow. A big plus? Oatmeal is one of the most filling foods out there and has been linked to weight loss.
You can eat cabbage with just about anything, and it’s about as cheap as edible food can get. Cabbage contains almost 20 different flavonoids and 15 phenols with antioxidant qualities. In particular, red and purple cabbage are especially good for you, thanks to their anthocyanins, which have been linked to cardiovascular health benefits like protection of red blood cells. Scientists are also studying cabbage for its sinigrin, a glucosinolate that may help prevent certain types of cancer.