15 Summer Superfoods That Don't Cost a Fortune from 15 Summer Superfoods That Don't Cost a Fortune

15 Summer Superfoods That Don't Cost a Fortune

“Superfood” is a clever marketing label used to describe produce and other items in grocery stores that are rich in nutrients that help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart problems, cancer and other diseases. The foods on the following list are based on the Department of Agriculture’s seasonal produce guide; the prices have been estimated by the USDA Economic Research Service.

Fresh cherries

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Cherries are among the most antioxidant-rich fruits. They contain particularly large concentrations of a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins. Antioxidants provide a host of health benefits ranging from maintaining healthy blood vessels, to prevention of cancerous tumor growth. They’re also good for athletic performance, making cherries ideal for runners. Cherries, also a perfect nigh snack before bed, provide naturally-occurring melatonin, which is the regulator of the sleep/wake cycle. A 2010 study found people who drank cherry juice fell asleep faster and for longer. Participants also reported improvements in their insomnia symptoms. Average retail price per pound: $3.59.

Tomatoes

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Tomatoes are known for their antioxidant content and their rich concentration of lycopene. “Many studies suggest that eating lycopene rich foods may be linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and age –related eye disorders,”  Heather Blanchette, registered and certified dietitian-nutritionist at IEM, says. Tomatoes are also full of Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. 95 percent of every tomato is water, which make tomatoes a delicious food you can snack on and not gain weight.  Make sure you add them to your salad. Snack on cherry tomatoes between meals. They will keep you hydrated and full. Add mozzarella cheese to make this a delicious appetizer. Average price per pound of Roma tomatoes: $1.24

Cucumbers

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Cucumbers go well with everything. They (and lettuce) are 96 percent H2O – more than all other veggies. Cucumbers are also a great source of Vitamin C and caffeic acid, which help skin heal and reduce inflammation.  Now you see why people put them under their eyes? Research shows that the unique nutrients in cucumbers may play a role in reducing your risk for heart disease as well as several types of cancers. Average cost per pound: $1.30

Watermelon

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The name may have given it away but watermelon consists mostly of water – 92 percent. A study says that the mixture of salts, minerals and natural sugars in this juicy fruit can even hydrate your body better than water itself. Watermelon is also high in calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also has a lot of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant known to prevent cells from damage. Two cups of watermelon also has so much Vitamin C, almost half of the recommended daily value. Average price per pound: $0.33

Blueberries

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“An oldie but goodie in my opinion,” Millie Wilson, Registered Dietitian for My Fit Foods, says. “Blueberries are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C, which can help protect our cells from damaging free radicals, and fiber, which can promote fullness and good digestive health,” she adds. They are a sweet treat, especially during the summer months, and can do bodies so much good – they neutralize free radical damage that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. Average price per cup: $1.59

Kiwi

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Kiwi is a fiber-rich food; one medium = 2.3 grams. A study found that eating 2 to 3 kiwis a day can significantly improve your good cholesterol, while decreasing your bad cholesterol; which equated to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. Kiwi is low on sugar – just 7 grams (compared to 19 grams in an apple). One serving of kiwifruit packs about 85 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Research has shown that the phytonutrients found in kiwi may play a role in protecting human cell DNA by providing antioxidants and healing properties. Average price per pound: $2.04

Squash

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Summer squash doesn’t have as many carbs as their varieties in the winter – 7 vs. 10 grams per cup. Another benefit is that this vegetable has a lot of Vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two antioxidants that protect your eyes, according to the American Optometric Association. Squash, including zucchini, is high in manganese and is a good source of many other nutrients that help regulate blood pressure and may reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Average price per pound: $1.64

Bell peppers

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Bell peppers, a superfood for weight loss, are low in calories and higher in fiber, Shira Hirshberg from All Foods Nutrition, says. They are mainly made up of water and carbs. Red bell peppers contain more than 10 times the beta-carotene found in green bell peppers and provide157 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. The antioxidants in bell peppers protect against free radicals which can be beneficial as people get older, protect against cancer, and help clear the skin. The level of carotene, another antioxidant, is nine times higher in red peppers than in green. Average price per pound: Red peppers – $2.28; green peppers – $1.41

Peaches and nectarines

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Peaches low calorie fruit with just 39 calories per 100 grams, are just coming in season, Hirshberg says. Peaches are high in fiber – about 2.3 grams per one medium-sized peach – which help in both digestive and colon health. Peaches and nectarines have lutein, which is one of the pigments found in the retina of the eye. That’s why these fruits may help prevent macular degeneration. Nectarines are also a good source of carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and niacin, as well as fiber. Average price per pound: Peaches – $1.59; Nectarines – $1.75

Fresh basil

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Basil has been called an anti-bacterial and anti-aging superfood. The herb is also known for helping to prevent type 2 diabetes because it plays a role in controlling blood sugar levels, according to research. Basil seeds are traditionally used to treat colds and certain headaches. Some studies have suggested that basil is also helpful in reducing cholesterol levels. The herb is also high in vitamin A and K, as well as in calcium – 2 tbsp. have 9 mg. At Walmart, 0.75 of fresh basil costs $1.98.

Plums

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Research on the health benefits of plums has focused on two unique phytonutrients: Neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. Found in plums and prunes, they function as antioxidants and have been shown to prevent oxidative damage. Additionally, plums are considered a very good source of vitamin C and some studies have shown that they may play a role in helping the body to better absorb iron. Average cost per pound: $1.83

Cantaloupe

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An excellent source of vitamins C and A, the sweet and juicy cantaloupe is an ideal summertime snack. They are 90 percent water. Just one serving provides you with your daily dose of vitamins A and C. It’s the perfect choice if you have a sweet tooth. One cup of sliced cantaloupe is just 53 calories. Mix them with some yogurt and put them in the freezer for a home-made sherbet.  A study found that an increased intake of fruits like apples, grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon and bananas may reduce a person’s risk for developing metabolic syndrome. Additionally the cantaloupe is a good source of other important nutrients like potassium, folate and vitamins B6, B3 and B1. Average price per pound: $0.54

Corn

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Research from Purdue University in Indiana shows that milled yellow corn products, such as cornmeal, grits and corn flour, are rich in the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein. These two antioxidants are especially associated with eye health, acting like sunglasses protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. The same two ingredients may help lower your risk for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. Average price per pound: $2.69

Frozen fruits

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“Frozen” seems to be a synonym for “processed” but it shouldn’t because not all food in the frozen section is bad. The second a fruit or vegetable is picked, it begins to lose nutrients. So the more time that passes before you eat them, the worse. When they are frozen, they don’t lose any of their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, according to Hirshberg. If you want a fruit that is not in season, you may find it in the produce section of the store, but it’s likely that the frozen version is actually healthier.

Canned salmon and tuna

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“There is nothing wrong with eating canned salmon,” Maria Bohland, a registered dietician and founder of DietAustin.com, says. “They are much cheaper but have the same amount of protein.” Salmon and canned tuna are among the most surprising sources of Vitamin D. Fatty fish is the best place to find naturally occurring vitamin D, which many people lack, in foods. Canned salmon, which is cheaper than fresh salmon and you can find anytime of the year, is a good supplement. Canned tuna is probably the least expensive fish you can find in stores. Of all different kinds of canned tuna, the light tuna is the best choice.