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Published May 19, 2012, 11:30 PM

Hot Topics: Healthy eating isn’t more expensive – depending on how you calculate it

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.

By: Source: NPR.org, INFORUM

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.

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