Studies have proven that eating junk food and processed food is bad for your waistline and your health. A poor diet can also affect your finances negatively.
While it may seem like you're saving money by purchasing cheaper, low-quality foods, the end result is the opposite because you'll eventually be paying more for medical expenses. A diet consisting of unhealthy foods increases your risk of health problems like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Thomas Gaziano, associate professor of Harvard Medical School and cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, warned that if you don't follow a balanced diet, "there are immediate health consequences."
If you have more health problems, you will "have more doctor visits and copays, and insurance rates will go up," added Gaziano.
Fortunately, at least 40 to 45 percent of heart issues can be addressed with a balanced diet.
In the study, Gaziano and his team examined the effects of 10 dietary factors, including consumption of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and processed meats. The results revealed that the annual cost of cardiometabolic diseases caused by poor diet is about $300 per person or a whopping $50 billion nationally.
A poor diet also accounted for 18 percent of all heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes costs in America.
Experts have established several guidelines to help people improve their eating habits.
According to federal dietary guidelines, a healthy eating plan includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. A balanced diet should also include lean proteins and foods low in saturated fats.
While buying cheap food to save money doesn't sound like a good idea, for most people this is a way of life. After all, buying fresh fruits and vegetables, especially organic produce, can cost an average of $1.50 more per person each day.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, explained that each dollar counts for families in "dire financial straits."
While it looks like the math makes sense, Mozaffarian said you're not actually saving money on groceries by buying cheaper fast food. In fact, it's the opposite. It's more expensive to buy the cheapest fast food than to cook.
However, not everyone has free time or energy to plan and cook a meal, especially if they're preparing food for a large family. Mozaffarian advised that dollar for dollar, you can get healthier, cheaper food in a grocery store.
He added that more needs to be done to make healthy food affordable. But if you want to improve your health, it's worth it to pay more for nutritious foods, especially when compared to the costs of chronic illness linked to an unhealthy diet.
According to a paper published in 2018, the cost of care for people with diabetes accounts for about one in four health care dollars spent in America. Care for a person with diabetes costs an average of $16,752 annually.
In a 2019 study, data revealed that if adults in the country followed a healthy diet, the cost savings could reach $88.2 billion. The savings would stem from reductions in cases of Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
It can be hard to make the shift to a healthier diet, but Gaziano advised that you can start by making small changes, such as limiting your consumption of added sugars and processed foods and opting for fruits and vegetables. (Related: Low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables linked to cardiovascular death: Following a balanced diet boosts heart health.)
If you're busy with work, Mozaffarian suggests the "shop and assemble" approach. Stick to simple recipes like salads, and make one with nutritious ingredients like feta cheese, greens, tomatoes, walnuts and olive oil. A salad won't take too much time, and it's a healthy dinner for the whole family.
Try the tips below to save money on groceries while also following a healthy diet.
Instead of trying to save money by buying cheap junk food, it's better to plan meals and cook at home. Following a healthy diet is better for your overall well-being, and it can help you save more money on future health care costs.
Watch this video about plant-based diet and health.
This video is from the CAT channel on Brighteon.com.