Every few months, it seems, there’s hype about the latest, hottest superfood. But many of the foods readily available in your grocery store are already “superfoods”—foods brimming with various disease-fighting nutrients, usually without providing too many calories. As well as being easy to find, they won’t break the bank. These 12 healthy foods ring in at under a dollar per serving and deliver a lot more nutritional bang for your buck than the offerings you’d find on fast-food dollar menus.
Why lentils are so good for you: Like beans, lentils are high in fiber and protein (8 grams and 9 grams per half cup, respectively), which makes them great for your heart. They have the edge over beans, though, when it comes to preparation. Lentils cook up in only 15 to 30 minutes and don’t need to be presoaked.
Why tea is so good for you: There’s no doubt that tea is a super-healthy, budget-friendly addition to your diet. Tea, especially green tea, has lots of health boons. Both green and black teas are loaded with antioxidants, which may boost your immune system and promote heart health. In fact, one study found that people who drank 5 or more daily cups of green tea had a 26 percent reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to people who drank less than one cup.
Why tuna is so good for you: Sure, salmon gets a glowing (and well-deserved) rep for being a mega-source of omega-3s. But did you know that lowly canned tuna also delivers omega-3s? Look for chunk light tuna, which comes from smaller tuna fish and is lower in mercury than white albacore tuna.
Not only is it delicious and versatile, peanut butter delivers many of the same benefits as more expensive tree nuts. Peanut butter delivers heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E and zinc. Look for natural peanut butter (a brand that has just peanuts—and salt, if you insist—as the ingredients) to avoid partially hydrogenated oils and sugar.
Why apples are so good for you: Apples don’t have megadoses of any one vitamin or mineral to boast about (although they have some vitamin C), but several research studies suggest that apples have tangible benefits for your heart. Researchers think it’s a combination of the pectin (a type of fiber) and polyphenols that makes apples so good for you.
Why eggs are so good for you: For such a small and inexpensive food, eggs pack in a lot of nutrition. The whites are brimming with protein (6 grams per egg), while the yolks deliver some vitamin D plus lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration—a disease that affects nearly 8 percent of Americans over age 40, causing vision loss and sometimes blindness. All that for 72 calories. (There’s a reason they’re touted as the "incredible edible egg.”)
Why carrots are so good for you: Sweet potatoes get a lot of love for being a superfood, but so should carrots. After all, they’re both orange, which means they deliver beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A). A cup of carrots is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision and contributes to immune function.
Why cabbage is so good for you: Like kale, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, and diets rich in cruciferous vegetables are linked to lower rates of cancer. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and delivers fiber and detoxifying sulfur compounds. Red cabbage also boasts anthocyanins, antioxidants thought to keep your heart healthy and brain sharp. Plus it’s very low in calories (22 per cup).