9 Super Cheap Health Foods

Some of our most potent superfoods are also among our biggest bargains. (Photo: Shutterstock)

“I can’t afford to eat healthy,” my friend Jill said, plopping down next to me with her bag of Taco Bell.  “Pressed juice is like 8 bucks a pop. Those salad bars charge by the 1/18th of a pound. And don’t get me started on the farmers’ markets. I know it’s all organic and from the earth, but I feel like I’m the one getting raked over.”

While I try not to push a healthy-eating agenda on my friends, sometimes you gotta hold an intervention. My chalupa-loving pal might have thought she was saving money by ordering off the dollar menu, but long term, bad nutrition choices cost big bucks. One study at the University of Florida found that over the course of 25 years, women who are overweight will make an average of $389,300 less than someone at a healthy weight. And that’s before you consider the costs of additional medications and doctors’ visits.

But the fact is, some of our most potent superfoods are also among our biggest bargains. Even if you can’t afford to spend your whole paycheck at Whole Foods, you can find low-cost health foods at any corner store or supermarket. The next time your wallet’s feeling pinched, stock up on these dietitian-approved winners, compliments of Zero Belly Diet.

Super Cheap Health Food #1: Rolled oats


One dollar for one pound? Yes, you read that correctly! Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which helps slow the digestion of food and keeps you feeling fuller longer. One half-cup serving contains about five grams of fiber and 150 calories, making it a perfect breakfast option if you’re watching your diet. Stick to buying plain oats, not those flavored packets, which are usually loaded with sugar and other unhealthy add-ins. Mash up a banana and sprinkle on some cinnamon to add a little sweetness to your morning oats the natural way. Waking up to a big bowl of oats is just one of the exclusive 14 Ways to Wake Up with Zero Belly.

Super Cheap Health Food # 2: Potatoes


Sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, even white potatoes—Angela Lemond, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says you shouldn’t discriminate, because each kind offers great health benefits, including high levels of potassium and vitamin C. “[In my opinion], potatoes give you the most nutrient-rich bang for your buck in the supermarket,” says Lemond. Keep your peeler in the drawer, too. “Only 20 percent of the nutrition is in the skin, but most of the fiber is there. They also contain resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate which has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels,” adds Lemond.

Super Cheap Health Food #3: Canned Pumpkin

$1.29 each

High in fiber, low in calories and full of vitamin A, pumpkin has a lot to offer your body. Sure, you may consume enough pumpkin at Thanksgiving for an entire year, but this super squash goes well in more than just pie. Pumpkin puree can be used in both sweet and savory dishes—bread, cookies, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, smoothies, stews, you name it. Just a few tablespoons are enough to help improve digestion and boost immunity.

Super Cheap Health Food #4: Peanut butter

$2.79 each

A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found a link between the consumption of peanuts and a decreased risk for heart disease. Resist buying reduced-fat versions! The healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in peanuts are what provide those heart-healthy benefits. Due to its caloric density, peanuts and peanut butter should be consumed in small portions, but that modest two-tablespoon serving offers eight grams of protein on average. And make sure your brand contains only peanuts and maybe some salt–no added sugars or oils. Having healthy snacks on-hand is just one of the key steps in our Ultimate Guide to Getting a Flat Stomach–Fast!

Super Cheap Health Food # 5: Olive Oil

$24.99/3 Liters

Stacks of research have literally piled up on the health benefits of olive oil—one of the staples in the ever-popular and uber-healthy Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean-inspired diet including olive oil can help reverse metabolic syndrome, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Olive oil has also been found to support bone health, prevent heart disease and boost brain power. Spring for the large containers of olive oil and you’ll have a serious bargain on your hands. One tablespoon checks in at a measly twelve cents.

Super Cheap Health Food #6:  Bananas


Nature’s version of a packaged food, bananas are rich in potassium, which is important for healthy heart function. They are also a great source of fiber—three grams on average per serving, which is why they’re known to help with weight loss. Don’t be afraid to purchase a large bunch, either. If they start getting spots before you’re close to finishing them, peel and store in the freezer. Frozen bananas give smoothies that creamy, indulgent texture that can sometimes be watered down by too many ice cubes. (Just make sure you peel them first; once frozen, their skins turn into mini flack jackets.) Use a frozen banana to give dessert-inspired taste and texture to The Best Weight-Loss Smoothie Ever.

Super Cheap Health Food #7: Popcorn


Snack time needs some attention, too. Those of you who didn’t know popcorn was considered a “health food” have been missing out! Plain popcorn kernels are a whole grain food high in fiber and antioxidants. When air-popped, the classic snack only contains about 30 calories per cup. You can also pop kernels on the stove in coconut or olive oil for a more indulgent flavor. Sea salt, cinnamon, Parmesan cheese or herbs and spices are a healthy way to kick the flavor up a notch. The catch: Microwave popcorn does not qualify. Most are loaded with calories and additives.

Super Cheap Health Food #8: Raw pumpkin seeds


Six dollars per pound may not seem super cheap, but it would take you the better part of a year to eat your way through it. The great thing about these crunchy seeds is that you only need to consume them in small quantities to reap the health benefits. One ounce contains more than eight grams of protein and is also high in iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc (important for a healthy immune system). Add into salads, oats and yogurt, or pop them in your mouth as is for a quick snack. Bonus: These tiny seeds are packed with bloat-banishing magnesium, just one of the reasons they’re one of the 10 Best-Ever Snacks for Weight Loss.

Super Cheap Health Food #9: Frozen broccoli florets


Fresh veggies may sound like the healthiest and overall best option, but in many cases you’re better off hitting up the frozen section. Frozen fruits and veggies are frozen at their peak, so they retain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. Get this: For less than forty cents and 30 calories per serving, broccoli can help reduce inflammation, cut your risk for cancer, aid digestion and enhance your body’s natural detoxification process. Lemond notes that many grocery stores often run “10 for 10” specials on frozen veggies, making them an even more affordable option–so, stock up!


By David Zinczenko

Start with adding these simple selections to your daily routine, and check out Zero Belly Diet now to start losing weight while eating the foods you love!

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