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10 Budget

Sep 13, 2023Sep 13, 2023

Dr. Will Li, physician and the author of "Eat to Beat Disease," is back! He has taught us so much: from the benefits of intermittent fasting to showing us new evidence that suggests everyone is born with the same metabolism. And this time, he's talking budget-friendly superfoods.

"I love eating healthy, and the thing is we don't have to spend a lot of money to have delicious, healthy food," Dr. Li says.

Read on for 10 of his favorites including scallion and ginger (together!), capers, and tomato paste!

Scallions are relatives of green onions. They're also very commonly used in Asian cuisine.

But what makes them a superfood?

The fact that they contain bioactive compounds called allicon, which is both anti-inflammatory and streamlines metabolism.

"It actually gives you more energy," says Dr. Will.

Ginger, meanwhile, contains a bioactive called gingerol — also an anti-inflammatory. And you can buy it for pennies per serving.

"Ginger is a natural pairing for scallions, so I mix them together into a dipping sauce," says Dr. Will. "Chop up ginger with scallions, then add vinegar or soy sauce, and you've got a dipping sauce or marinade."


Capers are "little tiny treasures in a bottle," says Dr. Will.

They grow in the wild, in really dry areas of the Mediterranean (off the coast of Sicily and on the Greek isle of Santorini), and, in fact, they've been eaten for over 2,000 years! But what makes them superfoods are their extremely high levels of the bioactive quercetin, which, again, helps to lower inflammation and boost metabolism.

In fact, though they're so much smaller, they actually contain 60 times the amount of quercetin as red onions!

"Anytime you want to use capers, you'll want to rinse them first," says Dr. Will. "Put them down onto a cutting board and give them a quick chop to release the flavors. A little goes a long way, so you can really stretch your jar!"

Fresh oysters are typically fancy and pricey, and most people only get them at a restaurant.

But, as Dr. Will explains, there's a workaround: smoked oysters!

"You can find smoked oysters in the canned food section of almost any grocery store for a few dollars per tin," the good doc notes.

As he explains, "Oysters are a good source of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health, brain health, and circulation."

And how many do you need to eat to benefit your metabolism? Only three (!) medium oysters.

"This is such a surprising budget superfood," says Dr. Will, "because you only need to eat three of them to get the same benefit that you'd get from a 3-ounce piece of cod."

Next up, we've got tomato paste — and we're talking the kind that comes in a tube.

"In the winter, when it's not tomato season, you can get tomatoes in jars," says Dr. Will, "but you can get super-concentrated tomato flavor in the paste."

And that paste will contain all kinds of goodness: lycopene, chlorogenic acid, and quercetin.

"These three bioactives all work together to activate metabolism," Dr. Will explains. "Lycopene is fat soluble, so it gets absorbed into the body [and it] winds up going straight to body fat because it likes to be absorbed into oil."

His trick to getting the most out of the paste? "Heat up EVOO in a pan," he says, "then add the paste to the oil, stirring it in, creating a sauce."

Dr. Li says carrots have retinoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your vision as you age.

Turns out, that adage about carrots being good for your eyes is true!

"They activate your metabolism, and lower your blood pressure as well," Dr. Li adds.

In addition to green onions, Dr. Li says red ones are also good for you. However, don't peel off too many layers! He says red onions have beneficial bioactives in their skin.

And although they don't have as much quercetin as capers, they are still superfoods.

Dr. Li says garlic (which Rach loves and has tons of tips for buying and storing) is good for your circulation and is anti-inflammatory.

The doctor says parsley contains a natural bioactive that is good for your brain health and metabolism.

Used in a variety of dishes (see here), Dr. Li says cumin powder is anti-inflammatory, full of antioxidants, and can lower blood pressure.

So get shopping, cooking, and EATING, everyone — doctor's orders!

Also check out Dr. Li using a bunch of these superfoods in his Orzo, Roasted Carrot, Onion and Raisin Salad.