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4 affordable staples that beat pricey ‘superfoods’

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Forget those expensive superfood powders and potions. Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Healthy Food Guide dietitian Juliette Kellow pinpoints the everyday foods that provide a stack of nutrients

1. Eggs

2 boiled eggs contribute the following to our daily needs:

Vitamin A 15%
Folate 16%
Vitamin B5 21%
Vitamin B3 24%
Protein 29%
Phosphorous 30%
Vitamin B2 34%
Iodine 35%
Selenium 50%
Vitamin D 55%
Vitamin B12 30%

Brain boost

As well as containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, eggs are among the richest sources of choline, a nutrient that makes acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain involved in nerve and brain functioning and memory. Many of the B vitamins found in eggs are important for mental wellbeing.

Eye health

Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are critical for good vision.

Vitamin D

Eggs are among the few food sources of vitamin D, needed for bones, teeth, muscles and a strong immune system.

Waistline friendly

Several studies have shown people feel fuller for longer when they eat eggs for breakfast.

2. Milk

A 200ml serving semi-skim milk contributes the following to our daily needs:

Potassium 16%
Vitamin B5 23%
Phosphorous 27%
Calcium 30%
Vitamin B2 34%
Iron 40%
Vitamin B12 72%

Liquid assets

Milk is a really versatile and budget-friendly way to pack a variety of nutrients into your diet, including B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and iodine.

Healthy bones and teeth

Dairy products are especially important for bones – research shows higher intakes support healthy bone development and help maintain density and strength. Milk is also good for teeth, thanks to its combo of calcium and phosphorus.

Thyroid friendly

Milk contains iodine, an essential part of thyroid hormones that help maintain our metabolic rate. Iodine is also critical for healthy brain and body development from conception and throughout childhood.

Vegetarian diet booster

It’s also an important source of vitamin B12 for vegetarian diets (most natural sources of B12 are animal-based).

3. Canned tuna

A 45g can of tuna (100g when drained) contributes the following to our daily needs:

Vitamin B6 22%
Vitamin D 22%
Phosphorous 24%
Protein 50%
Vitamin B3 103%
Vitamin B12 120%
Selenium 125%

Minimal fuss

Canned fish needs no preparation – simply open the can – and there’s hardly any waste, plus it has a long shelf life so, unlike fresh fish, there’s no pressure to use it by a certain date. Check fish is from a sustainable source and look at salt values as some canned fish can be high in salt, especially if it’s smoked, canned in brine or in a sauce.

Two portions per week

That’s how much health experts recommend we eat, and they specify that one of these should be oil-rich to provide beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids. Canned fish is an inexpensive and fuss-free way to achieve this.

All varieties tend to be a cheaper way to enjoy good-quality protein – more economical than chicken, ham or beef for sandwiches, jacket potato toppings and salads.

Various nutrients

While canned fish contains stacks of nutrients, ranging from B vitamins and selenium to phosphorus and zinc, exactly which depends on the variety of fish. Oily varieties – such as canned salmon, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, kippers and slid – are especially rich in heart and brain-friendly omega-3 fats, and are among the richest food sources of vitamin D, important for healthy bones.

Include the bones

The soft bones in canned sardines provide a calcium boost.

Packs a punch

Tuna has around 110kcal per can and is nutrient-dense.

4. Almonds

A 30g serving of almonds contributes the following to our daily needs:

Phosphorous 21%
Magnesium 22%
Vitamin B2 24%
Copper 31%
Manganese 33%
Biotin 38%
Vitamin E 63%

Power players

Almonds may not seem a budget buy at first glance, but these popular nuts are nutrient powerhouses that give you incredibly good nutritional value for your money.

Heart friendly

As well as providing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats – this perhaps helps to explain why many studies link them to better heart health and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

There’s also evidence that, rather than encouraging weight gain, almonds may help us better regulate our weight and reduce belly fat, possibly because they help fill us up and replace other snacks in our diet that are higher in calories and lower in nutrients.

First published: Nov 2021

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