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Superfoods on the Cheap

You’d be forgiven for thinking your food needs to be exotic and unpronounceable in order for it to be healthy these days. So-called ‘superfoods’ are everywhere, but they’re usually just cleverly marketed, and don’t have science-backed health benefits. Here we’ll take a closer look at a few trendy foods, and check out how you can can plan your meals with the good stuff, just cheaper.

Kale

No self-respecting modern cafe would be without kale. It has a similar profile to its cousins cabbage and broccoli, and other dark leafy greens like spinach and silver beet. All are low fat, high fibre and micronutrient dense. The best bang for your buck depends on which nutrients you want to maximise. Spinach has the most iron by a long shot, but broccoli has more folate. With a bunch of kale around $3, a head of broccoli around $2 and a pack of frozen spinach about $1, the humbler vegies are better value. Kale is easy to grow, so if you do fancy it, try a few seedlings in a sunny spot.

Acai berry

Acai bowls are huge on Instagram and praised by celebrities, but there’s no good evidence to back up claims that they help with weight loss, high cholesterol or arthritis. Acai (ah-sigh-ee) berries do contain a range of antioxidants, but then again, so do all fruits! A diet loaded with colourful fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and even some cancers. So, frozen berries, blitzed in a strong blender with yoghurt and oats, will make a delicious smoothie bowl at a fraction of the price of acai berries.

Quinoa

Pronounced keen-wah, this South American grain has been on the scene for a while now. You can use it wherever you’d have rice, pasta or couscous – in a salad or as a side dish. Quinoa is higher in fibre and protein than rice, which helps you feel full and might help manage your weight. It comes at a price though: around $20 per kg for quinoa compared to $2 per kg for rice. Choose brown rice and wholemeal pasta and couscous to boost your fibre and get more nutrients from plain grains.

Kombucha

Heard of this fizzy tea-based drink? Kombucha is a fermented drink that’s a bit vinegary and a bit beer-y. It might have some gut-health benefits, but the science isn’t settled. And unless you know someone making their own kombucha, it’s a pricey habit at $4 to $6 a pop! Cheaper alternatives are homemade iced tea and sparkling mineral water with fruits and herbs. However, until we know whether there are any health benefits to kombucha, I’ll stick to water! Superfoods aren’t performing any health miracles. While they’re fun to try, if your budget is tight, there’s no reason to choose them over regular foods which can be just as healthy. It isn’t sexy or hip to eat less junk food and more whole grains and seasonal fruit and veg, but it’s all the superfood advice we need.

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