Filed Under:

How To Make Healthy Eating Easier On The Wallet? Change The Calculation

Play associated audio

If you're already a kale and lentils kind of person (we know there are a lot of frugal foodies out there) — you won't be surprised by this finding: According to a new study from some economists at the USDA, eating a healthy diet isn't necessarily more expensive than a diet loaded with sugar and fat. In fact, fruits and vegetables are often cheaper when you calculate the cost in a smarter way.

Cost is often cited as a barrier to eating well. But USDA's Andrea Carlson and her colleagues analyzed the cost of more than 4,000 foods using three different measures: Price per calorie (or food energy), price by weight, and price per average amount consumed.

By using this last measure — which is a good proxy of what actually makes it onto our plate — the news is good.

"We find that fruits and vegetables — especially vegetables — come out much less expensive than the less-healthy food such as potato chips, ready-to-eat cereals [which are] often high in sugar, [and] anything with a lot of fat like cookies and pies." That's because you get more bang — like vitamins and minerals — for the buck.

So how do you do it?

Well, for starters, when you're trying to get the most nutritional and economical benefit in the protein category, think legumes. Lentils and beans are very affordable, and a good alternative to meat.

Also, check sugar labels. For the purposes of this study, lots of foods people may think are healthful actually ended up in the "less-healthful" category because of added sugars. Think yogurts sweetened with jam, sugary cereals and granola bars.

And for veggies: Shop the frozen food aisle. You don't have to consume an entire package in a single use (frozen peas will last weeks). And frozen veggies are just about as nutritious as fresh — with a lot less work on your part.

For the full USDA report, click here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Lisa Lucas Takes The Reins At The National Book Foundation

Lucas is the third executive director in the history of the foundation, which runs the National Book Awards. Her priority? Inclusivity: "Everyone is either a reader or a potential reader," she says.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
WAMU 88.5

The Latest on the Military, Political and Humanitarian Crises in Syria

Russia continues airstrikes in Syria. Secretary Kerry meets with world leaders in an attempt to resolve the country’s five-year civil war. A panel joins Diane to discuss the latest on the military, political and humanitarian crises facing Syria.

NPR

Twitter Tries A New Kind Of Timeline By Predicting What May Interest You

Twitter has struggled to attract new users. Its latest effort at rejuvenation is a new kind of timeline that predicts which older posts you might not want to miss and displays them on top.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.