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In the first study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers investigated the effect of following a Mediterranean diet on the risk of dying as part of the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. During a five-year period, 380,296 men and women followed a Mediterranean eating pattern, with the following results:
Despite the clear health benefits, knowing it’s a better choice for good health might not be reason enough for some people to adopt a Mediterranean diet if they feel that they can’t afford it. As cost is often perceived as a obstacle to healthy eating, Canadian researchers undertook a different study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, to determine if eating this way really does cost more.
Using a dietary intervention program, women were taught about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and how to select and prepare the foods involved. Food cost was then compared with what they usually spent on groceries.
While expenditure for vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, olive oil, whole grains, poultry, and fish increased, it was balanced by a decrease in the amount spent on red meat, refined grains, desserts, and fast food.
“Increased cost should not be considered a barrier to the promotion and adoption of a Mediterranean diet,” the authors concluded.
With some planning, there are other ways to make meals more cost effective:
(J Nutr 2008;138:54–9; Arch Intern Med 2007;167:2461–8)