Heart-Healthy Diet Good for Your Wallet

Apr 1, 2013

The Mediterranean diet. It’s all the rage now. Rich in olive oil, fruits and vegetables and low on meat, it’s said to promote cardiac health and weight loss. But researchers say it also helps stretch the food dollar.

Rhode Island food bank recipients who completed a six-week course in cooking Mediterranean-style decreased their total food spending, purchased healthier food items and improved their food security. That, according to research published in the March issue of the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.

The recipes were drawn up by Miriam Hospital research dietitian Mary Flynn, who also authored the study.

"Getting people to prepare meals that don’t have meat in them expands their food money and it also makes cooking a lot easier for people," Flynn says. "They don’t have to do takeout or get pizza or have something that’s more expensive for them. People say they’re very easy to prepare."

The study was based on 63 individuals who completed the cooking course and participated in a six-month follow up. Not only did study participants cut their food spending by more than half, about half of them lost weight.