Eating well has never been so expensive. Over the past two years, the cost of vegetables, meat, fruit, and other high-nutrition, low-calorie foods has increased by an average of 19.5 percent. But junk foods? Their prices have actually decreased slightly, by 1.8 percent. Our economic outlook isn’t only making it harder to make ends meet—it’s making it harder to make the two ends of our belts meet. In fact, researchers recently estimated the cost of a diet based on high-calorie foods versus one based on healthy, low-calorie foods. The high-calorie diet you could eat for $3.52 a day. The low-cal diet? A whopping $36.32 per diem.
That sounds pretty bad—unless you factor in the long-term costs of bad eating habits. Overweight people are 25 percent more likely to be hospitalized for heart disease than slim people. Their hospital stays are 16 percent longer. Their risk of high blood pressure is 44 percent higher; the risk of developing kidney cancer is 42 percent higher; the risk of high cholesterol, 33 percent higher. And those numbers only get worse if you’re obese.
In the end, your best bet is to eat the healthiest, most nutrition-packed food your money can buy. Fortunately, Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide has come up with a list of smart, healthy swaps that you can buy for less than their equally healthy, more expensive equivalents. So instead of saving money buying junk food, you can save money buying healthy food. Now that’s a deal.