Getting Nutritional Bang for Your Buck
I still have food on the brain after my post a few weeks ago about the doughnut bacon burger, the ultimate in recessionary comfort food. We've heard a lot about the impact of a recession diet -- folks trading down to cheaper cuts of meat and buying more "food extenders" like Hamburger Helper. But do we lose valuable nutrients when we try to save money at the grocery store?
Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington, said many shoppers are tempted to buy inexpensive processed foods during tough economic times. But, he argues, many of those products provide little nutritional value. Shoppers may save money, but their health may suffer.
Drewnowski figured he could help cash-strapped consumers by figuring out which foods packed the most nutritional punch for the least amount of money. He started by scoring foods based on the amount of nutrients they contain. Then he calculated the prices of 4,000 foods using data from the USDA and local supermarkets. That allowed him to figure out the amount of nutrients per dollar of edible portion.
What he found was both old-school and radical at the same time. The most nutrient-rich foods that were also wallet-friendly included: eggs, milk, beans, lean ground beef, potatoes and soup. He acknowledged that many of these are already staples of our diets, but they may have fallen out of favor. Eggs were eschewed due to cholesterol, potatoes became a verboten carb and soup was maligned for its sodium content.
“They kind of lost their glamour in intervening years as we went after acai berries and pomegranate,” Drewnowski said.
But often overlooked is the nutritional wallop that such foods do have -- especially for the price. A complete shopping list is available at NutrientRichFoods.org. The main lesson, Drewnowski said, is not to be lured into buying a bargain without checking the label first.
“Don’t just grab a pack of something because it says 79 cents,” he said.
Tell us your tips for healthful eating on a budget in the comments below or via e-mail. Are there other ways the recession has changed the foods you eat?
Posted by: laura33 | June 29, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse
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