In times of long work hours, multiple after-school kids’ activities, and never-ending family demands, it is hard to find time to eat healthy. And with tightened household budgets and rising food costs, it becomes even harder to maintain healthy eating habits. Always on the go, it’s easier to fall victim to fast food drive-thrus and prepackaged, processed foods.
The majority of a household food budget is spent on processed foods and as a result these foods have almost completely taken over the diet of Americans. Most processed foods are stripped of nutrients and filled with additives such as sweeteners, salts, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, factory-created fats and texture-altering chemicals.
When comparing the lower cost of these foods with those of fresh foods, is the savings really worth the health risks? On a recent TV episode, Dr. Oz identified four superfoods that are easily incorporated into a daily diet, are available at any grocery store, and are priced at $5 or less.
What exactly is a superfood? It is a food that is defined as “especially good for you” and is high in nutritional value and contains chemicals that help reduce the effects of certain disease processes. Most superfoods are found in the fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds categories. The four superfoods Dr. Oz discussed include:
(1) Eggs: adding six eggs per week into your diet helps greatly reduce the eye disease macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness. Priced at $2.99 per dozen*, this healthy addition can help protect your eyesight for as little as .25 cents per day.
(2) Onions: eating half an onion a day helps decrease chances for breast and colon cancer and a one-pound bag of onions cost a mere $1.79*. Another benefit to onions is that there is no need to purchase organic ones because onions are not sprayed with pesticides.
(3) Chickpeas: a one-pound bag of dried chickpeas yields 7-1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas versus 1-1/2 cups of canned chickpeas and a 1-cup serving per day provides 50% of your daily fiber. Also known as garbanzo beans, a bag costs $1.39*.
(4) Popcorn: Three cups of air-popped popcorn per day helps reduce heart disease because it contains four times more plant compounds known as polyphenols than fruits. A two-pound bag of kernels pops nearly 175 cups of popcorn, so for $1.67* you can have a healthy snack for less than .03 cents!
It is important to understand that you can’t eat a diet consisting mainly of processed and fast foods and expect a few superfoods every now and again to counteract the unhealthy effects. A conscious effort needs to be made to incorporate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for maximum healthy benefits.
*Food prices shown are from Charlotte area Harris Teeter grocery stores. Follow this link to find a store near you.
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