When we think about superfoods, we often picture exotic and rare products that are hard to find and cost the earth. However, healthy food on a student budget is entirely doable. These everyday superfoods are cheap, easy to get hold of and carry super-hero-level health benefits. Some of these studies will surprise you. Not only can you eat healthy food on a student budget, but you can also reduce your risk of disease and level up your health.
Apples are one of the cheapest and most nutritious fruits you can buy. And for around 30p, apples are a truly healthy food on a student budget. In a medium apple, there’s 14% of the RDI for vitamin C. Alongside this, a single apple contains 2–4% of the RDI for manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B2, and B6 (Jennings, 2018).
They’re high in fibre, and water, making them very filling. For this reason, apples can aid with weight loss. One study found that people who ate apple slices before a meal felt more full. They ate on average 200 calories less in their meal. This being said, it’s important to eat the whole fruit. Not only is this the best way to reap the benefits of all the micronutrients above. But another study found that the satiating effect of apples wasn’t the same when using a processed apple product. Researchers compared feelings of fullness in people who ate either apple slices, or apple products like juice or sauce. Only those who ate whole apple slices reported feeling more full (Flood Obaggy & Rolls, 2009).
Apples are also rich in polyphenols, which have potent antioxidant effects. Flavonoids within these polyphenols have been linked to lower blood pressure (Majewska-Wierzbicka & Czeczot, 2012) and reduced risk of stroke (Hollman et al., 2010). Alongside this, apples contain soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol levels. This may be partly why studies associate apples with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.
When it comes to healthy food on a student budget, bananas are a must. They’re packed with potassium, that helps memory and focus. Always carry one in your bag for heavy study sessions! They also contain 33% of the RDA for vitamin B6. Alongside this, bananas have magnesium, copper, and manganese as well as vitamin C (Bjarnadottir, 2018).
This healthy food on a student budget also contains pectin and resistant starch. These may help moderate your blood sugar levels after meals. Both of these nutrients slow the emptying of the stomach (Schwartz et al., 1988). With bananas, you can have a sugar hit without spiking your blood sugar. Plus, they’ll keep you full longer than other sweet snacks, as they have a low to medium GI.
Eggs might be the best healthy food on a student budget. They are amongst the most nutritious foods on the planet (Gunnars, 2018). This is logical when you consider that a single egg needs all the nutrients required to create a baby chicken. One large egg contains 22% of the RDA for selenium, as well as 15% of the RDA for vitamin B2. Eggs are also packed with protein and healthy fats.
The healthy fats in eggs contain HDL or ‘good cholesterol’. HDL helps transport LDL (bad cholesterol) through and out of the body. It can also protect against stroke and heart disease and promotes longevity. One 20-year study measured HDL intake in men from age 65. They found that for each 10mg increase in HDL, the risk of death before age 85 decreased by 14% (Rahilly-Tierney et al., 2011).
Eggs aren’t just a healthy food on a student budget, they’re also great for a student lifestyle. They contain choline, a nutrient that many of us don’t get enough of (Gunnars, 2018). Choline builds cell membranes. It also supports the production of signalling molecules in the brain, along with many other functions (Ziezel & da Costa, 2009). So eating eggs improves your health and boosts your brain power. Perfect for study and exams!
If you want healthy food on a student budget, garlic is a great addition to your diet. It’s cheap and sold in pretty much any supermarket. It also makes many recipes taste amazing. This being said, garlic has even better benefits on your health.
As well as being affordable and easy to eat, it was relied upon as medicine in ancient times. Modern research has confirmed its powerful health benefits. Most of these are down to the sulphur compounds present in garlic. One of these is called allicin. It is produced when garlic is crushed or chopped and has blood pressure-lowering effects. It also reduces levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. These are both advantageous for the cardiovascular system (Borlinghaus et al., 2014).
Any healthy food on a student budget has to have a lot of ‘bang for its buck’. Garlic is extremely nutritious for both it’s price and its calorie content. A single serving contains just 42 calories. For these 42 calories, you get 23% of the RDA for manganese, 17% of your recommended daily B6 intake, and 15% of your daily vitamin C needs. It also has notable amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1 (Leech, 2018).
Students might also benefit from knowing garlic can aid in relieving the common cold (or fresher’s flu!). In a 12-week study, researchers found that garlic supplements reduced the frequency of colds by 63%. In this study, people taking garlic also recovered from colds faster. The length of cold symptoms decreased by 70% compared to those using a placebo (Josling, 2001).
For healthy food on a student budget, look no further than your condiment cupboard. Black pepper is an everyday essential for bringing out the flavour in your food. But it also has powerful health-protecting properties.
Firstly, pepper aids in digestion. Through increasing the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, pepper helps your body digest food. This lessens your chances of bloating and gas (neither is great halfway into a lecture or mid-revision session). Not only this, but a healthy digestive system is key in avoiding health concerns like diarrhea, constipation, and colic (Majdalawieh & Carr, 2010).
Black pepper can also help you lose weight. Peppercorns aid the body in breaking down fat cells (Jin Kim et al., 2011). After they’re broken down, the body uses fat for many essential daily functions, instead of storing it as body fat.
Like garlic, black pepper can also relieve you of cough and cold symptoms, as well as protecting against infection. Ingesting it helps break up mucus accumulating in the respiratory tract (Stohr et al., 2001). It is also antibacterial, helping your body fight infections and bites from insects (Venkat Reddy et al., 2004).
Healthy Food on a Student Budget: Summary
While many believe you need to break the bank to eat well, this is just not the case. Healthy food on a student budget is entirely possible with these everyday superfoods. Not only will you protect your wallet, but you can protect your body against disease and boost your health. Try adding some of our everyday superfoods to your daily diet for superhero health benefits without the price tag.
Psst.. you can also get fit without shelling out for a personal trainer! Read more on how to find the perfect workout plan here!