Eating Healthy on a budget – part 2: VEGGIES
This is part two of a series of posts regarding eating healthy on a budget. I previously shared info regarding the top 14 fruits to buy when sticking to a budget. This week we focus on the veggies.
It is recommended we eat five to nine servings of fruits and veggies a day; to fill half our plate with them.
You can start with the below list of veggies that offer the most nutritional value for the lowest cost. (This is relative to area and market prices.) But there is really no bad vegetable. Eating any veggie is going to be healthy. Eat more of them and eat a variety.
First, some veggie tips:
- Buy fresh veggies in season and on sale.
- Check your local farmers market for deals.
- Freeze veggies that are going bad and/or use them in soup.
- Frozen veggies keep longer.
- Sneak veggies like carrots into healthy desserts like carrot cake muffins.
- Add veggies like kale and/or carrots to smoothies.
Buy vegetables you love but purchase those that give you the most bang for the buck. When sticking to a budget, choose vegetables that offer big benefits to your body but also benefits to your wallet.
12 high nutrition, low cost veggies when eating healthy on a budget
Broccoli is a powerhouse veggie. A real superfood. Broccoli lands on the top ten list of many top rated nutritionists, doctors, and researchers. And no wonder because it has super cancer-fighting power. Studies have shown that broccoli helps prevent lung, esophageal, breast and cervical cancer as well as prostate cancer.
One cup of broccoli contains at least 2g of protein, 2g of fiber, 288mg of potassium, 43mg of calcium, 81mg of vitamin C. The list doesn’t stop. It also contains folate, magnesium, phosphorus, beta-carotene, vitamin A and 1277mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin reduces macular degeneration.
Probably a good idea to start eating these little trees if you aren’t doing so already. Sneak a couple into smoothies.
If you haven’t introduced collards into your diet, you may want to start. Collards have cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
One cup contains almost the same amount of calcium as an eight ounce glass of milk. It also has 5g of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, 200mg of potassium, vitamin C and a whole lot of vitamin A and K. Plus, the eye healthy beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Kale is another powerhouse veggie. The USDA does this testing to determine the antioxidant capacity of vegetables, fruits too. Based on this testing and the oxygen radical absorbance capacity rating, the USDA ranks kale as highest among vegetables.
You’re in luck if you don’t like broccoli. Kale has seven times the beta-carotene and ten times the lutein and zeaxanthin as broccoli!
Kale contains phytochemicals that protect against breast, cervical and colon cancers. It contains high amounts of sulfer and sulforaphane which helps boost our body’s detoxification enzymes.
Kale has a ton of calcium, iron, vitamins A, C and K as well as protein and fiber. It’s pretty easy to add kale to smoothies – fresh or frozen.
Spinach is the best source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is so important for building strong bones. Vitamin K helps get calcium into your bones. So when you drink all that milk, the calcium actually gets to where it should go. Speaking of milk, there’s a bunch of calcium in spinach, too.
Spinach is a good source of vitamin A, manganese, folic acid, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and quercetin which is a super anti-inflammatory. Plus, spinach has flavonoids. No, not super flavor agents. But antioxidants and anticancer agents.
Spinach helps protect against prostate and colon cancer and heart disease as well as lower high blood pressure.
To top it off, spinach is another one of the lowest-calorie foods on the planet. Stuff all you can in that smoothie!
Carrots have been referred to as the king of all vegetables. And of course, when people think health food, they think carrots. They picture munching on raw carrots instead of chips. For good measure, too. Studies have shown that one daily carrot may cut the rate of lung cancer in half!
Carrots are high in an antioxidant family called carotenoids. Eating loads of carotenoids can help reduce the risk of bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx and esophageal cancer, and breast cancer. Plus, it’s true. Carrots are good for your eyes. They are high in lutein and zeaxanthin. Which I mentioned help prevent macular degeneration.
Tip: Cooked carrots are better and with a little fat. AWESOME, right? When carrots are cooked some of the nutrients are more bioavailable. Carotenoids and vitamin A are better absorbed with a little fat.
Instead of offering bananas after races, they should offer mashed pumpkin. Pumpkin has only 49 calories in one cup but 564mg of potassium! That’s 33% more than a medium sized banana.
We care about potassium because when you don’t have enough you’re at risk of developing muscle cramps and cardiovascular irregularities. Athletes lose potassium through their muscles when they exercise. Hence, bananas after a race. (I’m sure much easier to serve than mashed pumpkin.)
Pumpkins high concentration of potassium also helps decrease the risk of stroke. In addition, eating a lot of foods high in potassium helps preserve the calcium in your bones.
Ok, so tomatoes are a fruit, a berry and a vegetable all in one. Go figure. Whatever you call them, eat them up!
Tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, are well known for reducing prostate cancer because of the carotenoid lycopene. There’s evidence that shows lycopene protects agains lung, somach, pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, oral, breast and cervical cancers. So it’s not just the boys who should be eating tomatoes.
Bonus: eat your tomatoes with avocado, olive oil or nuts because the fat in these foods helps absorb that lycopene we want so bad.
8. SWEET POTATO
Sweet potatoes are actually a great post-workout snack/meal. You can make them ahead of time, wrap them up to store in the fridge and then grab them with some chicken for a quick meal following that tough kettle bell workout. Cooling the potato after cooking actually makes them sweeter.
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin A and potassium. They contain the anti-inflammatory called quercetin and the antioxidant chlorogenic acid. Plus, they are pretty low in calories.
Cabbage is most often used in cole slaw and you can’t ignore it when it’s cooked. Stinky. But pay attention because cabbage helps keep breast cancer away as well as prostate cancer.
It also packs a wollop of vitamins and minerals while being one of the lowest-calorie foods on the planet! It’s high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and K, beta-carotene and the eye-healthy lutein and zeaxanthin.
Cabbage contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins can act as antioxidants (which we all love) and have the ability to fight free radicals. This helps fight off cardiovascular disease. Anthocyanins also have anti-inflammatory effects.
While eggplant is actually a fruit, we typically refer to it as a vegetable. It’s related to the potato and tomato, so naturally…
Eggplants are a pretty veggie with their deep purple color and fun shape. They’re also kind of spongy. They are great in salads and soups.
While not exactly a superfood, eggplants are really high in fiber and super low in calories. Plus, that deep purple color contains nasunin which is a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that it reduces free radicals that damage cells and DNA. It also binds to iron. Having too much iron can cause a number of problems.
While I’m not a huge fan of onions, they are a cancer-fighting food. So I’ve been trying to be better about eating them.
Onions have been shown to be protective against stomach, prostate and esophageal cancers. Onions can also help to build strong bones.
There are more reasons to eat onions. They contain antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral. Plus, they can help with allergies!
The stronger tasting onions have higher health benefits. So remember to bring a breath mint!
12. ZUCCHINI, YELLOW SQUASH, SUMMER SQUASHES
Oh man, I am all zucchini’d out. We grew a ton in our garden one year and I had so much of it, that I am literally sick of it. I shredded it and made a crap load of zucchini bread. I made zucchini boats. I threw it in spaghetti sauce and minestrone soup. I had SO much of it. I’ll be skipping it again this year.
But there’s the thing – it’s so easy to grow in your own garden and there are a ton of ways to eat them.
Plus, it’s great for weight loss because of the high water content. High volume foods help you feel full longer. They are filling while having low calories making them perfect when you are trying to lose weight or just in a general healthy lifestyle.
With all the benefits these vegetables offer, find ways to sneak them into your diet. I mentioned smoothies a lot but there are other ways. Get creative.
Check out the book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth to learn more about making good food choices.
It’s possible to eat healthy foods when you’re limited to a budget. Use the above list to buy nutritional low cost vegetables when in season and on sale. Then use the tips to ensure your veggies don’t end up in the trash.
Side Note: Check out the dirty dozen list to see if any of these are best bought as organic due to the amount of pesticides. They shouldn’t be but just in case.
Plus, don’t skip vegetables because they’re not in your budget. Experts suggest spending $6 on vegetable for every $25 you spend on food. Just one more dollar than fruits. Veggies are very important to you diet. Keep them on your budget.
And remember: No vegetable is bad. If the ones you love are not on this list, buy and eat them! Any vegetable is better than no vegetable!
TRACK YOUR HEALTH & FITNESS GOALS!
Are you keeping a nutrition and fitness journal? Research shows that by keeping a food and fitness journal, writing down your workouts and what you eat, you lose more weight and reach your goals quicker. Fitbook is an awesome journal that provides tips, motivation and plenty of space to reflect and document things that inspire you. I use this to help plan my workouts and my meals. I love the extra tips it offers regarding healthier food and fitness options.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE VEGETABLE?
As always, please remember that I am not a medical professional, personal trainer or nutritionist… I’m just a hard hitting girl who wants to be healthy and strong! Before you begin any fitness or nutrition program, please consult your physician!
This post may include affiliate links. That means if you purchase anything through certain links on my website, or any of my social media platforms, a portion of your purchase may be given to me without changing your price. All my opinions are truthful, honest and 100% mine. Thank you so much for supporting Hard Hitting Fitness by purchasing through these links!
Hard Hitting Fitness is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.