An Israeli woman buys vegetables on Jan 22 2010 in Tel Aviv. An Israeli woman buys vegetables on Jan 22 2010 in Tel Aviv. A woman buys vegetables at a market in Tel Aviv, Israel. Research says a plant-based, olive-oil-rich diet is actually cheaper than a typical Western diet. (Photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock)

Tired of going broke to eat healthy? Give the Mediterranean diet a try

New research dispels belief that eating a healthy diet is expensive.

It's easy to assume that eating healthy also means having to spend more money purchasing food. Well, a new study contradicts that notion.

Researchers from The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet saved an average of $750 per year over the typical diet prescribed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (also known as the USDA MyPlate diet).

The Mediterranean diet consists largely of olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans, fiber-rich whole grains and fish. The researchers found that it's actually less expensive than traditional Western-oriented diets that include white bread, pre-packaged snacks and lots of meat.

caprese salad

The Mediterranean diet celebrates fresh vegetables and healthy fats for a natural, sustainable lifestyle. (Photo: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock)

"We did this analysis because it is commonly said that healthy diets are expensive and that it is the fruits and vegetables that make them too expensive," said Mary Flynn, Ph.D., a research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital and the lead researcher on the study. "We expected the two diets to be similar in fruit and vegetable content, but our plant-based diet was substantially cheaper, and featured a lot more fruits and vegetables and whole grains."

So where do these savings come from? It's all in the meat – or reduction thereof. Replacing meat with fruits and vegetables on a daily basis produced the biggest cost savings in Flynn's study. "People should rethink how much meat they consume and how often," she said.

And what, you say, is with all the extra-virgin olive oil? You've seen the price tags at the grocery store; it's far more expensive than traditional vegetable-seed oils, right?

That may be true, Flynn said, but again, when you reduce your meat consumption, the savings kick in, making it much easier to justify using a higher-quality, nutrient-rich oil.

"Our findings with this study run counter to the general belief that a healthy diet must be expensive," said Andrew Schiff, CEO of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and a researcher on the study. "This is really good news for individuals served by the Food Bank – showing that wholesome eating on a tight budget is possible for everyone."

Need help starting your economical plant-based diet? Check out our Israeli Kitchen page for ideas and incredible recipes.


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Related Topics: Food News, Healthy eating