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Should Healthy Food Cost Less?

A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that some healthier foods are cheaper than others. In a meta-analysis of 27 studies from high-income countries, the researchers evaluated differences in price for individual foods and healthy versus unhealthy diets. They assessed the price difference per serving, 200 calories, or day. When comparing prices by calorie, a healthier choice was almost 50% cheaper than its less-healthy counterpart.

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Nevertheless, the costs of a healthier diet may be higher than those of the most expensive foods. Compared to those of processed food, unhealthy food tends to be mass-produced and non-perishable, and is low in nutrients. Unfortunately, the cost of a healthy diet is often the primary reason Americans opt for less healthy options. Cheaper, mass-produced, and non-perishable foods tend to contain more calories, and are more budget-friendly.

Health care costs for people with multiple chronic diseases are much higher than those for those with a healthy diet. Those with three or four chronic diseases will spend an average of $25,000 per year on medical costs, compared to only $6,000 if they eat a healthy diet. For these reasons, it is important to invest in healthy eating and choose a healthier diet. Even if healthy food is more expensive, it can also be more convenient.

You can save money by purchasing bulk foods at warehouse clubs such as Costco or Sam’s Club. Meats can be purchased in bulk and frozen for later use. While labeling is helpful, you can’t always rely on it to guarantee healthiness. It’s important to focus on the first three ingredients of your food and avoid foods with additives, such as hydrogenated oils and refined grains. Then, plan your meals accordingly and shop around for coupons.

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