The Mediterranean diet is healthier, cheaper than the typical Western diet

A woman holding a bag of groceries.

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New research finds that following a Mediterranean-style diet can help improve your health and save you more money per month than a typical Western-style diet. jamie grill atlas/stocksy
  • New research has found that the Mediterranean diet could help you save on your grocery bill.
  • The diet has been found to offer savings of up to $1456 a year for a family of four compared to the typical Western diet.
  • The Mediterranean diet offers many health benefits, including a lower risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes

Taste. Cost. healthiness. These are just some of the factors you may want to consider when shopping for groceries.

Now, new research shows that following a Mediterranean-style diet is not only better for your health than a typical Western diet, it’s also better for your bank account.

THE study found that following a Mediterranean-style diet saved a family of four $28 a week, a savings of $1,456 a year, compared to the typical Western diet.

The research, conducted at the University of South Australia, compared the nutritional profile and weekly costs of three food baskets: the typical Western Australian diet, the Mediterranean diet and the Australian guide to healthy eating (AGHE).

Both the Mediterranean Diet and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating have met many of the recommendations for good health, including food groups, macronutrient distributions and key micronutrients. However, the Western Australian diet was significantly deficient in fiber, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B6 and had double the recommended salt intake.

When it came to cost, the Mediterranean diet reigned supreme with a weekly cost of $78 for a family of one, $135 for a family of two, $211 for a family of three, and $285 for a family of three. four people.

Cost is often a deterrent when it comes to eating right, however, this new research shows that the Mediterranean diet, well known for its health benefits, can be an affordable option for families who want to prioritize a healthy eating on a budget.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating whole foods and healthy fats, which are typically less expensive than the processed foods commonly found in a Western diet, says Bari Stricoff, a registered dietitian for Well Easy. This data is encouraging. He proves that eating healthier doesn’t have to be more expensive, which is a common misconception.

Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera, public health nutritionist and head of nutrition at Action Against Hunger UK, agrees.

She says: While the Mediterranean diet has traditionally been considered more expensive due to the addition of nuts and fish, it can actually come out cheaper due to the large number of fruits and vegetables.

The Mediterranean diet includes a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods and is based on foods traditionally eaten in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain, Greece and Italy.

It is characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and olive oil. Also include moderate amounts of fish and poultry, and limit your intake of red meat, processed foods, and sweets.

The Mediterranean diet is typically high in protein and fiber, which help you feel full longer.

Conversely, Stricoff says the hyperappetizing nature of a Western-style diet, combined with the reduced satiety these foods offer, can cause you to eat more, further contributing to rising food costs.

Additionally, Stricoff notes that the Mediterranean diet encourages eating in season, which can also make weekly grocery shopping more convenient.

The Mediterranean diet is often considered one of the healthiest diets to follow.

Indeed, research suggests that people living in Mediterranean regions tend to be healthier and have a lower risk of many chronic diseases.

In particular, following a Mediterranean diet can help reduce several health risks, including:

It can also promote weight loss and reduce the risk of premature death.

As a registered dietician, I can state that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest eating patterns recognized by the scientific community. The benefits of this diet are wide-ranging and multifaceted, rooted in its emphasis on a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, says Stricoff.

Note that the inclusion of healthy fats can reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Additionally, the emphasis on consuming whole, unprocessed foods means that the diet is typically lower in added sugars, salts and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Stricoff says a key aspect of the Mediterranean diet’s health benefits lies in its potential to reduce chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is a contributing factor to many noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, he explains.

High intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds provide substantial amounts of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

The Mediterranean diet can also be beneficial to your mental health.

Education have linked the diet to improved mental health, including lower rates of depression and cognitive decline, Stricoff adds.

The reasons for following a Mediterranean diet are many, and this new research confirms that eating this way doesn’t have to be expensive.

If you plan to follow a Mediterranean-style diet, how can you further reduce costs?

Rutishauser-Perera says introducing more greens into your diet and reducing the number of times you eat meat is a great place to start.

You could start having a plant-based meal at least two days a week or aim to include more vegetables with each meal, she suggests.

You don’t even need to buy fresh produce, particularly if you’re concerned about food waste contributing to the cost of your grocery bill.

It’s important to remember that canned or frozen foods fall within the recommendation to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and contain a high level of vitamins and minerals, she points out.

Buying in season is another great money-saving tip. Rutishauser-Perera recommends researching which fruits and vegetables are in season at different times of the year and creating meal plans around that.

Meanwhile, Stricoff recommends prioritizing plant-based proteins.

Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans are cheaper than most animal-based proteins and are a staple part of the Mediterranean diet. They often come canned or you can buy them dried, which is very affordable, she notes.

It’s not just what you buy, but also how you cook and store food that can take a toll on your wallet. For example, cook meals in batches and freeze them.

Your budget is often cited as a barrier when it comes to eating right, but this new research is clear: By following the Mediterranean diet, you can think about your health and your money.

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