Nutrition advice can sound complicated, and with it create the impression that we need lots of money to get the right food for our overall health. However, the money we spend on food isn’t worth it if we don’t get the right nutrients for our health benefits. Here are some suggestions for cheap, healthy foods, which can help you focus on the health benefits rather than the cost
Omena (silver cyprinid)
Omena, just like all other fish, is very rich in protein, minerals, lipids and vitamins. It is especially famous for omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.
Omega-3 is important for heart health and brain development. That is why omenais highly recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Grown-ups, especially older ones who are quite susceptible to heart diseases are also advised to consider having plenty of omega-3 in their diet.
Calcium is a crucial mineral for all ages and not just for bone development in children. We need lots of calcium to ensure that our bodies do not run out of it, lest they draw all that’s available from our bones, leaving us with weak bones. Omena is special because it is eaten whole and so one consumes all of the nutrients therein. They are readily available in many markets and are also very affordable.
Managu (African nightshade)
Managu is a traditional leafy green vegetable. It is very rich in iron, which is why traditionally it was given to new mothers after childbirth and to injured warriors after a battle. Apart from using it for its anti-inflammatory benefits, it has shown the promise of keeping many diseases, including cancer, at bay as good blood health translates to all of the cells being healthy.
One bunch of managu goes for Ksh20 to 25 and served alongside a starch, it can feed a family of up to four.
Plantains are like bananas, only healthier because they have a lower level of sugar. They also have a higher level of magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and K. Although they are generally starchier than bananas, their starch is resistant starch, which is healthy because most of it is not digested, hence does not spike blood sugar levels. For the same reason, plantains give a feeling of fullness, which is both healthy and economical since you do not have to feed on so much.
Plantains worth about Ksh200 in a common market can feed a family of four for two meals.
Broccoli has long been mistaken to be a vegetable for the rich despite being quite cheap. Even though it is a different species of cabbage, broccoli is healthier as it provides more fibre, protein and vitamins. You can take full advantage of its nutritional benefits by cooking even the stalks as they are lower in calories and still very high in fibre.
One average size broccoli head costing Ksh50 can serve as the vegetable for a meal for an average size family.
Carrots are one of the cheapest vegetables in any market, yet they are one of the healthiest. It is mostly praised for good eye health since it contains beta-carotene, which when absorbed, is converted into vitamin A. Carrot is also very useful if you want to lose weight. It contains very few calories, lowers body cholesterol levels and is a good stomach filler, which prevents one from overeating.
You need very few carrots to complement another vegetable in a meal, and what’s better is that it can even be eaten raw as a snack, especially for children.