Healthy Eating Will Cost You $380

A new study led by a University of Washington professor found that healthy eating, at least as healthy as new government guidelines suggests, can add at least $380 to a yearly grocery bill, according to MSNBC.

A recent update of U.S. nutritional guidelines, what used to be known as the food pyramid and is now called “My Plate,” calls on Americans to eat more fresh foods containing potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium.

When times are making it harder to meet needs it would be harder for many to spend more to meet the new nutritional recommendations. When Pablo Monsivais, an assistant professor of public health, and colleagues surveyed more than 1,000 adults in King County in Washington state, they found that the average participant would need to add an extra 700 milligrams of potassium a day to reach the recommended amount. That costs an extra $1.04 a day, or $380 a year.

Additionally, to add more dietary fiber and vitamin D into their diet, the participants would have to spend an extra 35 cents a day for each of the two nutrients.

There are ways to eat healthy with more bang for your buck, however. Monsivais observed that Americans aren’t well aware of how. “If you were to guide people toward the most affordable sources of potassium, you could do it more cheaply,” he said. For example, potatoes and beans are inexpensive sources of potassium and dietary fiber.

Hilary Seligman, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said Monsivais’ research is an interesting addition to the debate about healthy eating and food insecurity, her area of expertise. A lot of people assume the poor eat cheap food because it tastes good, but they would make better choices if they could afford to, said Seligman, who was not involved in the Health Affairs study.

“Almost 15 percent of households in America say they don’t have enough money to eat the way they want to eat,” Seligman said. Recent estimates show 49 million Americans make food decisions based on cost, she added.

By: Pat Prescott
Published: Aug 4, 2021
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