It's no secret that the Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan. In fact, it’s been linked to a lower risk of dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even certain types of cancer. While the Mediterranean diet is touted as one of the healthiest diets in the world, it can be extremely expensive to eat this way—especially if you're getting all your ingredients from Whole Foods. But it turns out that there are plenty of affordable foods that fit into this lifestyle. So below, I've rounded up eight cheap (but healthy) foods you can buy at any local grocery store that will have you well on your way toward eating like our friends across the pond:
Broccoli is low in calories and high in fiber, which makes it a good option for weight loss. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects cell health and supports the immune system. Broccoli also provides plenty of vitamin A—the precursor to retinol, an important nutrient for eye health—as well as vitamins K , folate , calcium , B6 , E and more.
Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as improve your brain function. We all know that fish is good for us, but in the case of sardines, it helps that they're also a great source of vitamin D (another nutrient linked to better brain health), vitamin B12, selenium, calcium and iron. That's a whole lot of nutritional bang for your buck!
Legumes are another cheap and healthy food that you can substitute for meat. Beans, peas and lentils are quickly becoming the new "it" food in the diet world because they're all low-calorie, high-fiber foods that keep you feeling full longer. They also have a great balance of protein and carbs, which means they'll help fill you up without weighing you down as much as some other options.
In terms of health benefits, these legumes can help lower cholesterol levels by preventing absorption of fat from your diet while also reducing inflammation throughout the body (and yes—they're good for weight loss too!). This is especially important if you're looking to reduce risk factors for heart disease or diabetes since both diseases are linked back to poor eating habits like consuming too many processed foods with high sodium content.
Avocados are good for your heart, brain and liver. The fat found in avocados is monounsaturated, which has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also contain vitamin K for healthy bones and vitamin E for healthy skin. Avocados are also rich in potassium, which helps promote muscle function as well as fluid balance in the body.
As if that weren't enough to convince you to add this delicious fruit into your diet… avocados contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood pressure levels and lowering inflammation in the body. ALA also helps prevent damage from free radicals (which cause aging).
Oranges are a good source of vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron. They're also a good source of fiber, which helps keep you full. Oranges are a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
Olive oil is a healthy fat, and it makes your food taste good.
It's good for your heart and contains vitamin E, which helps protect against certain cancers.
Olive oil also has monounsaturated fats, which are known to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
Olive oil contains antioxidants, which help promote overall health by protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals in the body that can lead to cancer or other diseases.
Garlic is a great source of antioxidants, which helps to protect your body from oxidative stress and free radicals. In addition to this, garlic has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. This makes it a valuable addition to your diet if you are looking for ways to keep your heart healthy and strong. Finally, garlic is also known for its cancer-fighting abilities as well as its ability to kill bacteria that cause food poisoning or infections such as pneumonia!
Tomatoes are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and for good reason. They’re a rich source of vitamin C and also provide plenty of vitamin A, potassium and folate (which reduces the risk of birth defects). Plus they taste great when they’re sliced open on the street corner after a long day at work.
They’re also dirt cheap — at around $0.32 per pound this summer in New York City — so go ahead and treat yourself with that extra slice or two!
With all of these great ingredients and tips, you’re sure to enjoy your new Mediterranean diet experience. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and go eat some olives!