Trying to eat healthy can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes. There are so many choices to fill your cart with these days it can be tough to decide what to get, especially when you’re trying to stretch your food budget as far as it can go.
Nutrient dense foods are one of the best ways to make the most out of every dollar you drop on food, and every calorie you consume. By choosing foods that have a wide variety of nutrients, or ones that provide you with the highest levels of important vitamins and minerals, you can eat well without breaking the bank.
Following are three of the most nutrient crammed superfoods you can get your hands on at your local grocery store.
I’ll admit avocados may look a little funny, but they pack a huge nutritional punch that’s no joke. Hidden beneath the skin of these odd looking little green fruits are a bunch of healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals.
And when you consider the amount of nutrition that’s packed into avocados—which are a good source of vitamin E, potassium, B vitamins, fiber and folic acid—it’s clear they supply a lot of bang for your food buck.
Experts say avocados can help lower inflammation, including the kind of chronic, body wide inflammation that’s linked to most major diseases from diabetes to heart disease.1
The monounsaturated oleic acid found in avocados is a natural inflammation fighter, which could lower your risk for heart disease and cancer.2,3,4,5 And a natural sugar found in avocados, called AV119, has been shown to lower inflammation in skin cells.6
The carotenoids, tocopherols and other phytonutrients found in avocados could also help reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, one compound in particular, avocatin B, has been shown to target and kill certain kinds of cancer cells, without harming the healthy ones.7
Avocados are high in blood pressure regulating potassium.8 Which means regularly indulging in creamy, delicious avocados could help lower your risk for heart attack and stroke as well. And the rich mix of healthy fats found in avocados, including oleic acid, could help improve your cholesterol balance, lowering LDL and triglycerides while raising healthy HDL.9,10,11,12
Leafy greens are rich in a number of important nutrients, but kale in particular is bursting with healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In fact it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods you can find, even exceeding the recommended daily amount (RDA) on vitamin A, K, and C.
A cup of raw kale delivers about 134 percent of your RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that we must get from our food, and studies have found diets high in C are linked to a lower risk for heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.13, 14,15,16,17 Plus, researchers say vitamin C can help lower LDL and triglycerides.18
Kale contains an astonishing amount of vitamin K. A single cup of kale can provide over six times the RDA on this critical vitamin that your body uses for blood clotting.
Studies have found cruciferous veggies, which includes kale, could lower your risk for cancer.21,22 And kale contains several compounds, such as indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which researchers say may help protect you against the disease.23,24,25
If you’re concerned about your eyesight kale may be able to help. Kale is a great source of both lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients which experts say could help us lower our risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.26,27
And kale provides a number of important minerals that lots of folks tend to not get enough of including calcium, magnesium and potassium
Fatty fish such as salmon are a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids and critical micronutrients that lots of us simply don’t get nearly enough of.
Researchers say regularly eating natural anti-inflammatory omega-3s could help slash your risk for developing a long list of chronic illnesses including heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative disease and even psychiatric problems.28,29
Salmon also brings a healthy amount of selenium, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins to the table. And experts say the delicious fish could help raise your healthy HDL cholesterol, while lowering your triglycerides.30
There is one catch, however. You should choose wild caught salmon rather than a run of the mill farmed salmon whenever possible. Farmed salmon are typically exposed to pesticides and antibiotics, and wild caught salmon tend to have a better omega-6 to omega-3 balance.
Other nutrient dense superfoods that deserve a spot on your menu include almonds, blueberries, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, eggs, liver, shellfish and dark chocolate.
Make sure you’re making the most out of your food budget by choosing more of the healthiest, nutrient packed foods you can find your grocery store.
1. “Hass avocado modulates postprandial vascular reactivity and postprandial inflammatory responses to a hamburger meal in healthy volunteers,” Food Funct. 2013 Feb 26;4(3):384-91
2. “Dietary Factors That Promote or Retard Inflammation,” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, May 2006, Volume 26, Issue 5
3. “Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese,” J Epidemiol. 2007 May;17(3):86-92
4. “Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (18:1n-9),” Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):495-502
5. “Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid of olive oil, suppresses Her-2/neu (erbB-2) expression and synergistically enhances the growth inhibitory effects of trastuzumab (Herceptin) in breast cancer cells with Her-2/neu oncogene amplification,” Ann Oncol. 2005 Mar;16(3):359-71
6. “AV119, a natural sugar from avocado gratissima, modulates the LPS-induced proinflammatory response in human keratinocytes,” Inflammation. 2011 Dec;34(6):568-75
7. “Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death,” Cancer Res. 2015 Jun 15;75(12):2478-88
8. “Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses,” BMJ. 2013 Apr 3;346:f1378
9. “Effects of avocado as a source of monounsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipid levels,” Arch Med Res. 1992 Winter;23(4):163-7
10. “Effects of a vegetarian diet vs. a vegetarian diet enriched with avocado in hypercholesterolemic patients,” Arch Med Res. 1997 Winter;28(4):537-41
11. “Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia,” Arch Med Res. 1996 Winter;27(4):519-23
12. “Substitution of high monounsaturated fatty acid avocado for mixed dietary fats during an energy-restricted diet: effects on weight loss, serum lipids, fibrinogen, and vascular function,” Nutrition. 2005 Jan;21(1):67-75
13.”Antioxidant vitamins and coronary heart disease risk: a pooled analysis of 9 cohorts,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1508-20
14. “Serum vitamin C concentration was inversely associated with subsequent 20-year incidence of stroke in a Japanese rural community. The Shibata study,” Stroke. 2000 Oct;31(10):2287-94
15. “Plasma vitamin C concentrations predict risk of incident stroke over 10 y in 20 649 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Norfolk prospective population study,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):64-9
16. “Diet and the risk of gastric cancer: review of epidemiological evidence,”Gastric Cancer. 2007;10(2):75-83
17. “Intakes of vitamins A, C, and E and use of multiple vitamin supplements and risk of colon cancer: a pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies,” Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Nov;21(11):1745-57
18. “Vitamin C supplementation lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials,” J Chiropr Med. 2008 Jun;7(2):48-58
19. “Intakes of vitamins A, C, and E and use of multiple vitamin supplements and risk of colon cancer: a pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies,” Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Nov;21(11):1745-57
20. “Vitamin C supplementation lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials,” J Chiropr Med. 2008 Jun;7(2):48-58
21. “Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention,” Nutr Cancer. 2001;41(1-2):17-28
22. “Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis,” Pharmacol Res. 2007 Mar;55(3):224-36
23. “Attenuation of Carcinogenesis and the Mechanism Underlying by the Influence of Indole-3-carbinol and Its Metabolite 3,3′-Diindolylmethane: A Therapeutic Marvel,” Advances in Pharmacological Sciences,Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 832161, 7 pages
24.”Sulforaphane as a Promising Molecule for Fighting Cancer,” Advances in Nutrition and Cancer. Cancer Treatment and Research, 2014, vol 159. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
25. “Dual roles of sulforaphane in cancer treatment.,” Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2012 Nov;12(9):1132-42
26. “Lutein and Zeaxanthin Status and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration,” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2003, Vol.44, 2461-2465
27. “Plasma Lutein and Zeaxanthin and Other Carotenoids as Modifiable Risk Factors for Age-Related Maculopathy and Cataract: The POLA Study ,” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2006, Vol.47, 2329-2335
28. “Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids,” Nutrition Reviews, Volume 68, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 280–289
29. “The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence,” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics Volume 17, Issue 5, October 2004, Pages 449–459
30. “Twice weekly intake of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) positively influences lipoprotein concentration and particle size in overweight men and women,” Nutr Res. 2016 Sep;36(9):899-906
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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