The Mediterranean Diet: good for your wallet and your health

Tired of going broke in the pursuit of healthy eating? It’s easy to assume that eating cleaner and greener means having to spend more money purchasing fresh, organic food. A new study cooks that conclusion, but Green Prophet has been telling you this for years.

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

And if money doesn’t motivate, consider a Green Prophet report that linked the diet to increased virility!

The Mediterranean diet consists largely fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans, fiber-rich whole grains, moderate consumption of fish and red wine, and generous servings of olive oil. The diet is largely plant-based, requiring fewer natural resources than animal production, so it’s relatively light on environmental impact. In 2010, UNESCO recognized it as part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Lead researcher Mary Flynn, Ph.D., a dietitian at The Miriam Hospital, said in a statement, “It is commonly said that healthy diets are expensive and that it is the fruits and vegetables that make them too expensive. 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.”

The study concluded that these staples are less expensive than traditional red meat based Western-diets that include white bread and pre-packaged snacks.The savings are largely attributed to a reduction in meat. Nutrient-rich olive oil is pricier than vegetable seed oils, but this is offset by increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, which produced the biggest cost savings in the study.

“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? Type “Miriam Kresh” in our search tab to find a trove of vegetarian ideas and incredible recipes from Green Prophet’s resident chef.

Image: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

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