Tired of spending your hard-earned cash on expensive superfoods that promise you eternal life and youthful skin? PSA: You don't have to! While there are certainly foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are deserving of the ‘superfood’ titled they’ve achieved, that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of other healthy alternatives that offer the same nutritious benefits, at a fraction of the price. If you thought that your diet needed to be made up of pricey ingredients like spirulina, chia seeds and smoked salmon in order to be healthy, don’t throw in the towel just yet... Here are six incredibly nutritious and affordable additions to your diet, that’ll have you shining from the inside out (and that won’t cost you an arm and a leg):
Research has consistently shown that a diet with a greater focus on plants delivers long term health benefits. Chickpeas are a part of the legume family and are a really underrated diet superstar. Not only are they a great source of slow-burning carbohydrates and gut-boosting fibre, but they also provide a solid serve of plant-based protein to keep you full and help with muscle development. Chickpeas can be enjoyed in a salad, curries or blitzed up with some lemon juice, olive oil and salt for a homemade hummus dip.
Research shows that Australians are consistently not consuming enough vegetables, and one of the contributing factors is because vegetables have a short shelf life and commonly end up wilting away in the bottom of the fridge. Luckily, frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh sources and can be kept on hand in the freezer to throw in all sorts of dishes to bump up your daily vegetable intake. Vegetables provide our body with vital nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants and regular consumption is associated with reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Adults should consume five 75g serves per day and adding extra frozen vegetables to meat dishes, omelettes and smoothies is a simple way to achieve this.
Some call it coffee, others call it ‘nectar of the gods’, but whatever you call it, this go-to morning ritual certainly earns its place in the superfood realm. The most well-known benefit of coffee is its ability to increase energy and wakefulness due to the caffeine content. It does this by blocking a brain chemical called ‘adenosine’, which makes us feel sleepy. The caffeine in coffee can also boost metabolism and help you max out your gym session, which is why 2-3 cups of coffee may help assist with weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and exercise (note: we are talking black coffee!). If it couldn’t get any better, coffee has a very high antioxidant content, which may help to protect your body against day-to-day wear and tear. Coffee is a part of many morning rituals and if you really want to ramp up your morning routine, there are some great coffee products that include other health-boosting ingredients like apple cider vinegar, healthy fats and memory-boosting herbs, such as the Body Science Clean Coffee TX100, which takes your morning coffee and makes it better (plus, the easy to carry sachets means you can halve your coffee bill each day!).
If we were going to give out an MVP award in the cereal aisle, oats would be the champion. Not only are oats incredibly affordable, but they are also insanely versatile. Oats are rich in a special fibre called beta-glucan which, when consumed regularly, can help improve blood lipids, have you feeling fuller, and keep your digestive system in good shape. Oats as porridge is a winter classic and in the warmer months, you can soak oats in milk or yoghurt to make a bircher muesli, which is a very simple and healthy breakfast. And if time isn’t on your side in the mornings, throw a handful of oats in the blender with milk, fruit and a dollop of yoghurt and enjoy a filling and energy-boosting breakfast smoothie, ready to walk out the door.
Although carbs have received some bad press in previous years, it is well known now that not all sources of carbohydrates are created equal. While the white refined carbohydrates should be actively reduced, wholegrain and fibre-rich carbs such as the humble brown rice are an easy pantry staple to accompany all sorts of meals. Brown rice has almost double the fibre of white rice and it’s a source of valuable B-vitamins, magnesium and manganese. If you are looking to make a healthy swap, changing from white rice to brown rice is an easy place to start!
Eggs are pretty much nature's multivitamin tablets! To start, eggs are a rich source of muscle-building protein and healthy fats. But what is not as well known is that eggs also contain vital nutrients such as iron, selenium, B-vitamins, choline and zinc. The best part is that eggs can be enjoyed at any meal! They are a great way to start the day, especially if you are looking to increase your protein intake at breakfast (protein at brekky will help you feel fuller for longer), and if the day has gotten away from you, eggs are a simple and quick dinner option that can help you avoid the less healthy fast food options. They are hard to beat really!
At the end of the day, being healthy for life is about choosing a variety of foods which are as minimally processed as possible - this means higher nutrient density. While it is easy to get distracted by the ultra-fancy superfoods on offer today, just don’t forget the old favourites that still hold their own when it comes to nutritional value!