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10 cheap superfoods that cost next to nothing

Daniel Couglin / 22 April 2016 ( 25 November 2019 )

Healthy eating on a shoestring is a lot easier than you might imagine with our guide to budget nutrition.

Beans, lentils and other pulses
Nutritious pulses are packed with vitamins and minerals, yet are cheap and versatile.

Ordinary budget-friendly superfoods that won't leave you broke are just as good as the trendy – and ridiculously expensive – nutritional superstars of the moment. “We should be celebrating more everyday superfoods,” says registered dietitian Nicola Whitehead. “Ones that are easier to get hold of or simply are cheaper.”

If you strike the pricey spirulina, goji berries and fresh wild salmon off your shopping list and add the following goodies, you'll save a small fortune on grocery bills whilst still enjoying all the benefits of a wholesome, balanced diet.

White cabbage

Good old white cabbage may not be as glam as limelight-stealing kale, but this unassuming leafy green is just as healthy as its more fashionable cousin and easier on the wallet.

A vitamin-packed, fibre-rich cruciferous vegetable, cabbage has the potential to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and also contains glucosinolates, sulphur-based compounds that have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer tumours.

Home-grown superfoods


Dubbed 'poor man's ginseng', carrots are loaded with 490 health-enhancing micronutrients, including powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C.

Affordable enough at the supermarket, carrots from the market, along with most fruit and veg tend to be cheaper. Some stallholders sell 'seconds' to keep prices low – produce that is fine to eat but would be rejected by the supermarkets for cosmetic reasons.

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Broccoli is another cheap cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable chock-full of essential nutrients such as folate, calcium, vitamins A and C, and both soluble and insoluble fibre.

If you can, do shop the seasons.

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Bursting with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for optimal health, sardines are also rich in vitamins B12 and D, fundamental nutrients that support heart and brain function.

If you snap up your sardines in canned form, you'll find that they're about half the price of tinned tuna and the most affordable oily fish in the supermarket. Aim to eat at least one portion of oily fish a week if you want to reap the benefits.

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They may not be the most exciting of legumes but lentils have some remarkable health-boosting properties.

Lentils are low in fat and high in fibre and protein, making them a good substitute for meat, fish or dairy in your diet.

They are also rich in folate, magnesium and phytochemicals, which mop up free radical damage and may help prevent or slow the progression of cancer, Parkinson's and other degenerative diseases.

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Kidney beans

Like lentils, kidney beans are a decent cheap source of protein and both soluble and insoluble fibre.

These nutritious pulses also boast high levels of potassium, folate and magnesium, plus the pigment that gives the beans their purple-red colour is a powerful anthocyanin, the same health-enhancing antioxidant that is found in expensive superfood berries like acai and blueberries.

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This earthy root vegetable is a nutrition hero with serious superfood appeal. Betaine, the staining purple pigment that gives beetroot its intense colour has been shown to help lower blood pressure and protect the body from chronic disease.

Beetroot is also a good source of folate, vitamins A and C, and iron: the deep purple veggie was even eaten at one time to help relieve the symptoms of anaemia.

British superfoods


Beneficial for you and your bank account, oats are full of goodness and low in cost. A significant source of vitamin C, folate and minerals such as zinc and magnesium, oats have high levels of beta-glucan, a form of soluble fibre that has been shown to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

They also contain potent antioxidants called polyphenols, which help the immune system ward off infection and prevent illness.

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This nourishing vegetable is, believe it or not, an excellent source of vitamin C – a generous portion contains 50% of the daily recommended intake, and its high beta-carotene content helps the body absorb the vitamin more effectively.

Swede is also packed with energy-boosting manganese and potassium, not to mention fibre, folate and phosphorous, which is crucial for a healthy metabolism.

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Red onions

Often overlooked as a superfood, the humble onion is a powerhouse of nutrition, especially the red variety, which contains a powerful antioxidant called quercetin.

Onions are also rich in allicin, a health-enhancing compound with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that supports heart health. And if that isn't enough to get you to up your intake, onions pack impressive levels of vitamin C and folate, too.

10 tips for eating well on a budget

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.