20 Ridiculously Cheap and Healthy Foods

Put that pocket change to good use! Most of these super-nutritious eats will cost you less than a buck per serving

November 15, 2012
cabbage
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1. Green Cabbage, $.69 per pound

$.09 (1/2 cup shredded) buys you: A breast cancer safeguard
A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables may help prolong the lives of breast cancer survivors, according to a recent Chinese study. Researchers found that women who ate the most of these veggies—which include cabbage, broccoli, and mustard greens—during the first three years after diagnosis had a 62 percent reduced risk of dying compared to those who ate the least. The veggie-eaters also reduced their risk of breast cancer recurrence by 35 percent.

More from Fitbie: 8 Vegan-Friendly Foods Packed With Protein

Other perks: A half-cup amounts to a mere 8 calories, so you can gobble down the veggie without worrying about packing on the pounds.

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2. Peanuts (in-shell), $2.19 for 16 oz

$.14 (1 ounce) buys you: A happy heart
The blend of monounsaturated fatty acids in peanuts may reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, according to research from Purdue University. Additionally, the fiber content (about 2 g per serving) helps to lower cholesterol levels.

Other perks: When you buy peanuts in the shell, you don’t only save yourself money, but you’ll slow down your eating, making it harder to go overboard on your afternoon snack.

 

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Deborah Ory
3. Beets, $0.99 per pound

$.15 (1/2 cup) buys you: Brainpower
Adults older than 70 improved the blood flow to their brains by drinking 16 ounces of beet juice a day in a Wake Forest Study. Researchers speculate that the blood flow boost—caused largely by beets’ high nitrate content—could stop dementia from progressing.

More from FitbieYour New Produce Goal, Plus Delicious Ways to Meet It

Other perks: The nitrates in beets may also lower your blood pressure, according to a 2008 study from the London School of Medicine and William Harvey Research Institute at Barts . Additionally, these ruby reds are loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants called betacyanins.

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4. Carrots, $.89 per pound

$.15 (1/2 cup sliced) buys you: Peeper protection
The old wives’ tale isn’t quite true: Carrots won’t give you super vision. But they may help prevent your eyesight from deteriorating. A half-cup of carrot strips sets you up with two days’ worth of vitamin A, which can prevent macular degeneration.

Other perks: Carrots also deliver about 10 percent of your recommended daily vitamin K intake per half cup. Vitamin K helps keep your blood and bones healthy. Not to mention, a serving clocks in at a measly 25 calories.

 

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5. Eggs, $1.89 per dozen

$.16 (1 egg) buys you: A slimmer waistline
Overweight adults who ate eggs for breakfast lost 65 percent more weight over eight weeks than those who ate a bagel instead, according to a study conducted at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Research Center. The egg eaters reported feeling more satisfied after breakfast and ate fewer calories later in the day.

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Other perks: For a mere 70 calories you’ll get 6 g of protein. Plus, the yolk contains leutine and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that can help preserve your eyesight and prevent macular degeneration.

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6. Popcorn kernels, $4.79 for 28 oz

$.17 (1 oz kernels, which makes about 3-1/2 c popped popcorn) buys you: Antioxidant power
Popcorn contains a higher concentration of polyphenols, an antioxidant, than fruits and vegetables, according to a study from the University of Scranton. Research indicates that polyphenols may prevent degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. 

Other perks: You get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of calories as well as cash. Each cup of air-popped popcorn costs only 31 calories.
 

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7. Oatmeal, $5.79 per 42 oz

$.19 (1/2 cup serving) buys you: Less body fat
Adults who eat three or more servings of whole grains—like oatmeal—a day may have as much as 10 percent less visceral adipose tissue (belly fat linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes) according to research from Tufts University.

More from Fitbie: The Breakfast That Banishes Hunger

Other perks: This quick and easy breakfast can ward off heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Plus, it delivers fiber and protein to keep you full until lunch.
 

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8. Bananas, $.60 per pound

$.20 (1 banana) buys you: Fuel for your next workout
Skip the sports drink and grab a banana before, after, or during your next workout—the yellow fruit works just as well, according to research from Appalachian State University. Bananas contain an ideal blend of sugars for an energy boost, as well as bonus nutrients, such as vitamin B6 and potassium.

More from Fitbie: 6 Bright (And Delicious!) Banana Smoothies

Other perks: One medium banana contains about 12 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake.
 

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9. Milk, $3.47 per gallon

$.22 (1 cup) buys you: Stronger muscles
Milk does a body good in more ways than one. In addition to strengthening your bones with calcium, it can help you bulk up with its combination of fast-acting proteins, whey and casein. Both proteins are quickly broken down into amino acids that signal protein synthesis—which is an important part of building and repairing muscle tissue.

Other perks: This dairy drink may also help you slim down. Exercisers who drank two cups of skim milk after workouts lost twice as much fat over 12 weeks than participants who drank either a soy beverage or a sports drink in one Canadian study.

 

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10. Brown Rice, $4.29 for a 2-pound bag

$.23 (1/4 c) buys you: Reduced diabetes risk
Eating two or more servings of brown rice a week was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a Harvard University study. Researchers estimated that substituting 50 g of brown rice for white rice a day could lessen your type 2 diabetes risk by 16 percent.

More from Fitbie: The Healthiest Gluten-Free Grains

Other perks: The hearty whole grain may also guard your heart by preventing high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), according to a study from Temple University. Of course, it also supplies you with fiber, protein, and a number of important minerals, such as manganese, which helps with digestion.
 

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11. Green beans, $1.99 per pound

$.24 (1/2 cup) buys you: A super low-calorie snack (or side dish)
A half-cup serving tacks a mere 17 calories on your plate. Green beans are also fat-free.

Other perks: These jolly greens contain traces of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber and protein.
 

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12. Chickpeas, $2.49 for 16oz dry beans

$.25 (1/4 cup dry) buys you: Cardiovascular disease prevention
Chow down on legumes, like chickpeas, as part of a low-glycemic diet to reduce your chances of developing coronary heart disease. Research from the University of Toronto shows that eating legumes cuts down the risk of heart disease primarily by lowering blood pressure.

More from FitbieMeatless Monday: Chickpea-Pesto Tomato Soup

Other perks: You’ll feel fuller for longer after noshing on these little guys thanks to their hefty helpings of fiber (15 g) and protein (8 g).
 

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13. Black beans, $1.99 for a 16 oz bag of dry beans

$.33 (1/2 cup) buys you: A low-calorie, high-fiber source of protein
Black beans are a dieter’s dream. In each serving, 8 g of protein and 8 g of fiber work together to keep you full—for about 113 calories and virtually no fat.

Other perks: Black beans have more antioxidants than any other beans. They’re also a good source iron and folate.

 

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14. Potatoes, $.99 per pound of Yukon gold

$.50 (1 medium potato) buys you: Lower blood pressure
Taters contain almost a quarter of your daily recommended intake of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.

Other perks: Though you may think of this starchy vegetable as a diet no-no, researchers from the University of California Davis and the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology found otherwise. Dieters who ate spuds five to seven times a week as part of a reduced-calorie diet lost as much weight as participants who restricted calories but did not eat multiple helpings of potatoes a week. Spuds also supply a significant dose of vitamin C.
 

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15. Oranges, $.99 per pound

$.50 (1 orange) buys you: Stronger bones
Oranges pack vitamin C—one provides163 percent of your daily allowance. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, your body needs vitamin C to heal wounds and to repair and maintain bones and teeth. 

More from Fitbie: 10 Fresh Fruit Salads

Other perks: Folate, vitamin A, potassium, and dietary fiber also hide inside this sunny fruit.

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16. Sweet potatoes, $.99 per pound

$.50 (1 medium sweet potato) buys you: Healthy skin
Sweet potatoes are chockfull of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may protect your skin from sun damage.

Other perks: Each serving also packs about one-third of your daily recommended vitamin C intake, as well as 4 g of dietary fiber.

 

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17. Plain Yogurt, $2.79 for 32 oz

$.70 (1 cup) buys you: Stable blood pressure
Adding more yogurt to your diet without increasing the number of calories you consume may reduce your risk of high blood pressure, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions. A study conducted over 15 years revealed that of the 2,000 participants, the ones who consumed at least 2 percent of their calories from yogurt were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.

More from Fitbie: A New Reason to Love Yogurt (Aside From It Being Delicious)

Other perks: Stay satisfied with 13 g of protein per cup and reinforce your bones with 45 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake.

 

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18. Apples, $1.49 per pound

$.75 (one apple) buys you: Lower cholesterol
In an Ohio State University study, adults who ate an apple a day for four weeks lowered their oxidized LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 40 percent.

Other perks: One piece of fruit contains 4 g of filling fiber. Apples also contain more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables and carry about 14 percent of your daily-recommended vitamin C intake.
 

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19. Pears, $1.49 per pound

$.75 (1 pear) buys you: Stroke protection
White-fleshed fruits and vegetables, such as pears and apples, may reduce stroke risk, according to a 2011 study from the Netherlands.

Other perks: A medium-sized fruit serves up 22 percent of your daily recommended fiber allowance, and costs you about only 100 calories.
 

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20. Canned tuna (white), $1.89 per 5 oz can

$1.13 (3 oz) buys you: A better mood
The roughly 800 mg omega-3 fatty acids in tuna may fight depression. In one Canadian study, omega-3 supplements showed promise in reducing symptoms among patients with major depression. Another study conducted in France indicated that a deficiency of omega-3 may cause depressive symptoms. To boot, canned tuna delivers a whopping dose of selenium, a mineral that may also help prevent mood disorders.

Other perks: For around 100 calories, you’ll get 22 g of protein as well as 7 percent of your daily iron intake. Additionally, research indicates that the omega-3 fatty acids may alleviate inflammation, boost memory, and prevent heart disease.

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