Condé Nast Digital StudioglamourBy Courtney Rubin, Glamour magazine
If the high prices of health foods like açai and goji berries are keeping you from eating well, both your wallet and your waistline are about to get a major break. We found nine less-than-$1-per-serving nutritional powerhouses with full membership in the superfoods club.
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1. Golden Raisins
31¢ and 125 calories per 1/4 cup serving
Never mind trying to count your wine as a fruit; choose golden Thompson Seedless raisins instead. You can feel smug about their price and their antioxidants (called phenols), which protect you from aging and disease. Raisins are also a natural source of inulin, a fiberlike carbohydrate that helps support the growth of the good bacteria that can help keep your digestive system healthy.
2. White Potatoes
70¢ and 110 calories per 1 medium potato
White potatoes are often passed up, but one medium russet potato will set you back only 35 cents, and the calorie price tag is minimal too. One of 'em also packs about two grams of filling dietary fiber and more potassium than a banana. Plus, when cooked then cooled, they're loaded with resistant starch, "a unique kind of carb that's been shown to naturally up your body's fat-burning furnace," says Cynthia Sass, R.D., author of Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.
3. Canned Beans
As low as $1.19 per can, 100 to 150 calories per 1/2 cup
Swapping black, pinto, kidney or white beans for lean beef in tacos, burritos and casseroles not only saves moola, but it also ups your antioxidant intake and slashes calories, saturated fat and cholesterol-plus, just half a cup provides a quarter of your daily fiber quota. "Regular bean eaters have a lower risk of obesity and smaller waistlines," Sass says. "This is a swap I'd recommend even if you have money to burn." Serious penny-pinchers, take note: You don't have to spring for the low-sodium variety, but rinsing your beans washes away only less than half the salt.
4. Canned Tomato-Based Products
As low as $1 per can
A Swiss study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that women who consumed the most lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, reduced their risk of developing breast cancer by 36 percent. Go ahead and pile on the tomato sauce, tomato paste or salsa: "There is mounting evidence that lycopene's cancer-fighting potential is increased if tomatoes are consumed in a cooked or heated form that allows it to be released and absorbed more easily," Sass says.
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37¢ and 68 calories per 1-ounce serving
Prunes may make you think of Grandma, but they make us think "nutritional goldmine." The humble dried plum contains neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid, which protect against cell DNA damage (translation: they're anti-aging). They're also a good source of fiber and contain potassium, crucial for helping to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Less than $1 and 31 calories per 1-cup serving
Costly kale, schmale. Basic broccoli is in the same family and also packs the same necessary vitamins and minerals: calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A, all for less than the price of kale. Plus, broccoli contains glucosinolates, which can coax cancer cells to self-destruct, and phytonutrients, which can reduce your risk for some diseases, says Valori Treloar, M.D., coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet.
Less than $1 and 95 calories per 1 medium apple
We can't quite claim that an apple a day keeps the credit-card debt away, but at less than $1 per serving, it sure can help. Apples contain phytochemicals, which pummel the free radicals that can cause disease and signs of aging. Each sweet (or tart!) low-calorie bite provides flavonoids and pectin, which may help reduce the risk of heart attack by lowering cholesterol.
8. White Button Mushrooms
Less than $1 and 21 calories per 1-cup serving
Although white button mushrooms are found on even the lowliest of fast-food salad bars, don't write them off. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that just a handful has about 12 times more L-ergothioneine, an antioxidant that does DNA damage control, than wheat germ, and four times more than chicken liver, previously thought to be the best source.
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9. Frozen Berries
As low as $2.10 and 70 calories per 1-cup serving
The Brazilian açai berry has been called a super-anti-aging food because of its high antioxidant level, but eating a grab bag of frozen berries (yes, frozen berries retain their nutrients) will give you a better range of antioxidants and is a lot cheaper than a bag of the freeze-dried açai berries. "The more variety in color, the better," says Tina Marinaccio M.S., R.D., C.P.T. Raspberries and blackberries offer ellagic acid, which reduces risk of cancer, while the phenols in strawberries lower risk of heart and neurodegenerative diseases.
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