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Harvard researchers share the trick to eating healthy without emptying out your pockets

by , 24 November 2016
Harvard researchers share the trick to eating healthy without emptying out your pockets
If you think that you have to spend lots of money to eat a healthy diet, think again!

Sure, living on junk food is a whole lot cheaper than eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day. But according to research from the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands, “healthy diets can be obtained at different levels of spending”.

Dr Adam M Bernstein from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston in the US says that the trick is to spend more on plant-based foods like nuts, beans and whole grains, and less on high-fat dairy and red and processed meats...

Study compares the relationship between food spending and diet healthfulness

Dr Bernstein and his team compared the relationship between food spending and diet healthfulness by assessing the diet and spending data for 78,191women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study.
 
The team assessed the women’s eating habits and multivitamin intake according to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (or AHEI), which is a tool that they developed themselves. For every healthy item that a woman ate, they awarded points.

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Dr Bernstein and his team found that women with the healthiest diets, who had an average AHEI score of 59, spent about R33 a day on food. On the flipside, they found that those who followed the least healthy diets, with an average AHEI score of 30, spent about R26 a day on food.
 
However, when Dr Bernstein and his team divided the women into five groups based on how much money they spent on food, they found a wide range in AHEI scores within each spending group. The team pointed out that the AHEI score difference between the bottom 10% and top 10% within each spending group ranged from 25 to 29.
 

Researchers say that a high AHEI score also has heart health benefits

Dr Bernstein added that in previous research, a 20-point AHEI score increase was linked to a 25% lower risk of heart disease. He therefore recommends spending more on nuts, soy and beans, and whole grains, and cutting back on high-fat dairy and red and processed meat.
 
“Fish and poultry, vegetables, and fruit and fruit juice offer the next best investment. Although spending more money is associated with a healthier diet, large improvements in diet may be achieved without increased spending,” Bernstein and his team concluded.

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