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How To Eat Healthy Without Spending a Fortune

By Michele Wolfson | January 2, 2012

Eating healthy has never been so expensive. It’s often very frustrating to try to stay healthy and on a budget. Luckily, we have created a guide for eating well without burning a hole through your wallet. Here is our assessment on the best picks for the best price:

Best Breakfast Food: Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a cheap and healthy breakfast. Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich super-food can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties-which contain more fiber-and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber.

Best Grain: Dried Lentils

Dried lentils retail for about the same price of a bottle of water. For very little money, you can boil up a massive pot of soup- and salad-ready lentils. A pound-size bag has 11 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein in each of its 13 servings. It’s also one of the world’s richest sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps form oxygen-carrying red blood cells and promotes communication between nerves cells. You’ll gain all that good stuff, while saving an average of 41 cents per pound if you choose lentils over brown rice.

Best Fresh Fruit: Banana

If you get hungry mid-day, a banana is the best snack at your desk, after a workout, or in between classes. Fruit is a very good snack in general. An apple will give you 14 percent of your day’s Vitamin C and 4 grams of fiber, but a banana, at half the price per pound, offers more Vitamin C and just 1 less gram of fiber.

Best Frozen Fruit: Frozen Blueberries

The price of fresh fruits out of season is significantly higher than when they’re in season, due to transportation costs. And if you want to get your money’s worth, you’ll need to eat them within three days of buying, so they don’t spoil. 1 cup of frozen blueberries gives you just as much fiber as the raw variety, and a handful fewer calories. While fresh blueberries offer 18 percent more Vitamin C, that difference isn’t worth the extra cost.

Best Vegetable: Broccoli

Nutritionally, a half-cup of cooked broccoli delivers 24 percent of your Vitamin A, 84% of your Vitamin C, and 3 grams of fiber.  This versatile vegetable is a great bang for the buck and packs a great nutritional punch.

Best Vegetable Snack: Carrots

If you’re looking for a low-calorie snack, you’ll get more of a nutritional punch from carrots than celery, at practically the same cost per pound. 1 serving of carrots has two times as much fiber as celery-and 43 times as much Vitamin A. Try pairing with hummus!

Best Salad Base: Napa Cabbage

The leafy greens in your salad can really vary in their nutritional content-iceberg lettuce, for example, is significantly less nutritious than romaine, which is yet again less nutritious than cabbage. In fact, 1 cup of cabbage gives you more than half of your daily vitamin K requirement-and it’s $1.29 less per pound than Romaine. Try using cabbage in a soup as well!

For more healthy tips, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

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