The Best Cheap Food Sources of Antioxidants
Antioxidants play a key role in helping your body deal with free radicals, which can damage cells and may contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other ailments.
Many of the high-powered foods containing these antioxidants come with a price tag that's high powered, too. If exotic peppers and gogi berries aren't in your regular grocery budget, don't despair. Plenty of affordable produce items are available on your grocer's shelves to help you eat properly.
Many of them are also cheap weight loss foods, providing an easy way to use mealtime for creative multitasking. From fresh garden tomatoes and asparagus to winter squash and sunflower seeds, here are some of the best cheap food sources for antioxidants. (See also: 50 Fantastic Beet Recipes)
Present in a wide variety of orange and yellow vegetables, beta carotene is one of the more common antioxidants. Fortunately, there are several sources which allow you to save while still consuming proper nutrition.
With the multitude of carrot recipes available, chances are you won't get bored getting your beta carotene from a cheap bag of carrots.
If you've been enjoying winter squash for most of your life, you're likely already aware of how long it can last in your root cellar or refrigerator. This makes it a great candidate for stocking up when seasonal sales go into effect.
I'm lucky to have access to great prices on this versatile source of antioxidants all year long. Sure, the prices drop significantly around Easter and Thanksgiving, but I've never paid more than a dollar per pound and typically pay less than 50 cents for the same amount.
Lutein is a carotenoid vitamin helpful in dealing with a variety of eye diseases, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. While there are certainly sources you could pay big bucks for at the grocery store, a number of frugal foods are also at your disposal.
This green veggie can be used for anything from a pizza topping to a casserole ingredient and quite a number of things in between.
It's no secret that kale is a powerhouse green that we should all be eating more of. However, many of us struggle with preparing it in ways that aren't time consuming or frustrating. Struggle with kale no more.
Another cheapie source of lutein is broccoli. Full of green veggie goodness and antioxidants, broccoli is a workhorse ingredient for everything from dinner sides to a hidden add-in for berry breakfast smoothies.
A number of studies indicate that diets rich in lycopene are linked to lower risks of certain cancers, and proponents also tout its ability to reduce problems from macular degenerative disease and lipid oxidation.
If you're fortunate enough to live in the developed world, having access to fresh tomatoes year round isn't a huge problem, although there are certainly a number of canned products at your disposal as well. Whether you are enjoying your summer garden bounty or taking advantage of winter access, these 25 tasty fresh tomato recipes will help you plan how you can increase your intake.
While it's definitely a seasonal item, I've found watermelon to go on super sale around summer holiday dates here in North America. It's also something many people with time and space to garden are able to produce themselves. It's a delicious free radical buster, even when it's fried.
Selenium is a mineral that has gained attention for its antioxidant properties, and according to research, it can help prevent some types of cancer (although it might increase the chances of others, but possibly just in certain situations). In addition to supplements, there are a couple of food-based grocery store options available to you.
It isn't uncommon for people to automatically balk at the price potential of ocean-based protein, but the truth is there are many ways to enjoy affordable seafood. Warehouse club sales, direct dock connections with fisherman, and canned options come to mind, but there are certainly other options for determined bargain hunters.
Walnuts and Brazil nuts are some of the most affordable options for this particular source of antioxidants. A great source of protein for carnivores exploring a plant-based diet, they can also be used to accent traditional dishes or as a healthy after school snack.
The National Institutes of Health have a detailed resource on the benefits and sources of vitamin A. In addition to supporting immune function and healthy vision, this antioxidant also plays a critical role in maintaining your heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
The main reason I've been collecting black-eyed pea recipes for years has more to do with how easy they are to prepare than my healthy ambitions or a quest for antioxidants.
This fresh-water fish is popular for its rich flavor and omega-3 fatty acids. If the fresh stuff is something you only feel comfortable dishing out for occasionally, there are many tasty recipes for canned salmon you can enjoy regularly.
Hailed as a super food for some time now, pumpkin contains its share of antioxidants as well. Part of that detoxification ability comes from vitamin A. If growing your own is too overwhelming and you are only able to stock a limited amount when they are in season during the autumn months, then consider trying some canned pumpkin recipes.
The benefits of vitamin C have been touted by many a grandmother, and the folks at Web MD agree, while noting how this antioxidant powerhouse can help protect us from stroke, eye disease, and cancer as well as help boost our immune system.
This one should come as no surprise, as it's the fruit most of us remember being fed whenever mom noticed we had a case of the sniffles. Oranges provide an easy slice-and-serve addition to brown bag lunches and breakfast oatmeal, as well as an affordable produce item to put on your weekly grocery list. I frequently find a great price on oranges when shopping at Save-A-Lot, but if you have access to them at your local farmer's market that's a great way to go, too.
As someone who deploys cabbage recipes on a regular basis, I found it interesting to learn about the higher vitamin C content present in red cabbage. It's easily sliced for a salad accent, stir fry ingredient, or as a base ingredient for coleslaw, making it an easy go-to source for antioxidants. Granted, it has a slightly higher price tag than some of my other favorite cheap cruciferous vegetables, but it's still financially feasible.
Aha! I knew there had to be a higher purpose to my love for Bloody Mary cocktails! Finding more ways to enjoy tomato juice is a good idea, considering all of the health benefits that come along with its consumption.
The University of Maryland Medical center tells us that vitamin E not only helps lower the risk of heart disease, but also assists our body with the use of vitamin K and the production of red blood cells. Two sources of vitamin E are particularly affordable.
To be honest, I'm not much for taking the time to seed these little bundles of nutritional goodness. Fortunately, I use sunflower seed kernels for food recipes instead. They're relatively affordable at both Whole Foods and Walmart, and work for a number of things like seed butter, salad add-ins and even as an extra protein addition to homemade bread.
Since asparagus is a perennial, it's one of several backyard produce items you can grow with limited effort. I'll admit it isn't usually as cheap as string beans or collard greens. However, considering the high rating it has on the nutrient density index, and the fact that it's such a significant source of vitamin A, I feel it's earned its place on any list of affordable antioxidants. The health benefits outweigh the small extra cost. Besides, compared to snack crackers, potato chips, and brand-name soda, how expensive is it, really?
While it's true that any healthy diet needs to include its fair share of antioxidants, there's no reason your health goals need to be accomplished at the expense of your child's college fund. These inexpensive sources of antioxidants will keep you well fed and nourished, while also remaining on budget.
How are you incorporating more antioxidants into your diet?