By Woman's Day Staff
In her book, Eating on the Wild Side, author Jo Robinson compared the health benefits of fruits and vegetables found in the average grocery store. She discovered a number of surprising nutritional powerhouses in the produce aisles that don't have a high price tag. The recipes here are based on her picks (plus a few packaged goods). These choices are best for your body and your budget. Photo by Kat Teutsch.
One serving of kale has more calcium than 6 oz milk, more fiber than 3 slices of whole-wheat bread-and costs only around 21¢ per cup. Eat it raw or cook very briefly to retain the nutrients. Try this recipe: Kale, White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
2. Red Cabbage
At 26¢ per cup, this vegetable has six times the antioxidants of green cabbage. Choose tight heads that feel heavy for their size. You can refrigerate it for a week or more without losing nutrients.
These spiky vegetables are full of antioxidants and fiber. Artichoke hearts that are frozen or canned in water are convenient, nutritious and just 26¢ an ounce. Try this recipe: Parsley Pasta with Sautéed Artichokes
4. Granny Smith Apples
Of the common apple varieties, this tart fruit is the best for you, and it averages 52¢ each. Enjoying it skin-on doubles the health benefits.
This vibrant herb is not just a garnish, it also contains vitamins A, C and K, plus folic acid for a healthy heart. It's more nutritious than all types of lettuce, plus costs around 36¢ per cup. Use it like a salad green for maximum benefits.
Averaging at 96¢ per pound, unpeeled carrots are high in fiber, and cooking them helps your body absorb their beta-carotene. But avoid baby carrots-they're just full-size carrots with the nutritious outer layers removed.
7. Tomato Paste
Canned tomatoes are high in lycopene, which is linked to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke (canning makes lycopene easier to absorb). Tomato paste has 10 times the lycopene of raw tomatoes, and costs 6¢ per tablespoon.
Believe it or not, dried plums are higher in the antioxidants that help with cell repair than blueberries! They're also full of fiber, contain a mineral that has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis and are around $1.13 per cup.
Loaded with fiber and folate, beets may lower the risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and are around $1.47 per cup. Be sure to choose bunches with fresh leaves (the leaves turn yellow and withered as they age).
10. Novelty Oranges
Reddish-colored citrus such as Cara Cara and blood oranges cost about $2 per pound and have more antioxidants than navel oranges. They also contain nutrients that may improve heart health, too.
11. Canned Beans and Lentils
Packed with protein and fiber, canned legumes have more antioxidants than cooked dry beans due to the high-heat canning process, plus cost just $1.20 a cup. Rinse before using to remove extra sodium.
12. 100% Concord Grape Juice
Dark, sweet Concord grapes are high in certain phytonutrients that may promote heart health. The juice is at least 15¢ per ounce cheaper than 100% superfruit drinks and just as good for you.
This light-colored vegetable contains vitamin C and cancer-fighting nutrients. Unlike broccoli, which rapidly loses nutrients after harvesting, cauliflower is just as nutritious after a week in the fridge, plus costs around 61¢ per cup.