Tea doesn't contain any calories and it can be very useful for supplementing most weight-loss programs. Green tea is the most touted tea for health benefits out there but you can purchase about 100 generic black tea or orange pekoe tea bags for $1 at any grocery store. That’s hard to beat! All teas provide significant amounts of antioxidants so you can’t really go wrong in my opinion. Green tea is versatile because it has the powerful antioxidant ECGC that may boost your immune system and metabolism. Tea also contains small-moderate amounts of caffeine per cup which can improve utilization of fat for energy and improve overall metabolism. Caffeinated tea usually has about 1/3 of the caffeine content of the leading premium coffee. One or two cups a day will add up over the weeks, especially 30-60 minutes before doing cardio. Limit, avoid, or switch to decaffeinated tea in the evening so sleeping habits are not disturbed.
2. Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil provide an excellent supply of unsaturated fats. They are excellent for cooking and are a much healthier alternative to butter or other animal-derived fats. Vegetable oils are extremely cheap to purchase, especially in large containers, and allow you to make your own salad dressings. Margarine and butter alternatives are a high percentage of vegetable oils and therefore have less saturated fats and more Omega-3 fatty acids. Pure vegetable oil is better for you than the butter alternatives but I love them so making the switch from real butter is a big upgrade. Most of the margarine products now have changed their ingredients to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils that are sources of trans fats. There are also affordable brand names that offer light margarine products with even less calories. You can purchase 3-4 pound tubs of margarine products for $5 or less and they will last you for quite a long time. There are numerous studies out praising the benefits of vegetable oils and they are a staple on the new food pyramids. Eating plans such as The Mediterranean Diet tout the wonders of vegetable oils as one of the major reasons why inhabitants of that region have such low blood pressure, cholesterol, and incidence of heart disease.
Good old tomatoes are an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant lycopene which is also important in men for prostate health. Tomatoes have some simple sugar content but the fiber, water, and antioxidant content is enough to get it on this list. I would encourage most people, especially men over 40 who are at risk for prostate abnormalities, to consume tomatoes almost everyday. Tomatoes that are locally grown seem to look and taste much better than those imported. Fresh tomatoes are the best but tomato sauce or tomato juice can be beneficial as well.
4. Flaxseeds and Wheat Germ
These are grouped together due to their similar health benefits, cost, and many uses. Flaxseeds are excellent sources of heart healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids as well as fiber. Flaxseeds have no sugar and negligible saturated fats and can be easily added in whole or ground form to oatmeal, salads, protein shakes, breads, or spreads. They have little actual flavor so you can usually add them or mix them to anything for an extra nutritional boost. Wheat germ is a delicious, crunchy, and nutrient-packed topping you can add to plenty of salads, sandwiches, protein shakes, and other meals. It is packed with healthy fats, fiber, protein, and micronutrients. A large container is very inexpensive and will last you a long time.
5. Spinach and Kale
There is a reason that Popeye always ate his spinach! In reality, it isn’t much of a muscle builder but it is a very affordable source of powerful antioxidants and fiber. While it won’t make you strong and muscular directly, increasing your antioxidants and overall health can certainly help give you better gains in the gym or on the field. Kale is a very similar leafy green and provides very high concentrations of nutrients. Spinach and Kale are vastly superior to the iceberg lettuce that is found in so many salads. Add in spinach to your salads and sandwiches to kick the nutrition up a notch for pennies a serving.
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