Smart Food

This Healthiest Diet, It Turns Out, Is Also One Of The Cheapest

You can have it all when it comes to a healthier, cheaper, and, yup, more delicious diet.

Dad and daughter spend time together in a grunge-style apartment and cook a salad together. A man of...
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Several studies over the past few years point to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for mental health, bone health, fertility, and reduced cancer risks. Now new research from the University of South Australia shows that not only is the Mediterranean diet good for your health, but it’s also good for your weekly family budget.

Despite decades of studies showing the great health benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, it has yet to catch on. The Western Diet, high in fat, salt, and processes ingredients, is still the norm in Australia (where the study was conducted) and, of course, America. If you look to Italy, France, Greece, and Spain, you’ll find a generally healthier population who eats far more vegetables, fruits, health fats (fish, olive oil), and whole grains. Sure, some wine is also the norm, but what’s missing are the processed foods and refined grains and sugars.

Fruits, vegetables, and fish — pretty expensive, right? The new study from the University of South Australia resolutely concludes that’s not the case and that families actual save money when adopting the Mediterranean Diet.

The study looked at the nutritional profile and weekly costs of three food baskets based on three different diets: the Mediterranean diet, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE), and the typical Australian Western diet.

The results confirmed that the Mediterranean diet and AGHE met the nutritional recommendations, including the vitamins, macronutrients, and macronutrient distributions; however, the typical Australian Western diet lacked several key nutrients, including vitamin B6, calcium, and fiber, while containing double the amount of recommended daily salt intake.

But the most novel finding was that the average cost of the Mediterranean diet is cheaper by $10,972 per year for a family of three and $14,820 a year for a family of four. Groceries cost, on average $78 per week for a single person, $135 for a household with two adults, $211 for a family of three, and $285 for a family of four.

Not too bad.

"This research shows how a Mediterranean diet can be a cost-effective option," says UniSA researcher and Ph.D. candidate Ella Bracci said in a statement. The fact that it’s also healthier in every conceivable way, well, why not give it a shot? You’ll thank us over that spinach and goat cheese scramble at breakfast, or during the Greek salad and lentil soup you’re having for lunch, or maybe after the orzo and salmon for dinner. Not too bad.