If what you want is a diet that's easy on the wallet, a top nutrition expert has unveiled a new food rating system that evaluates the nutritional value of food along with its cost value. This is sure heaven sent to people wanting to balance healthy diets with their budget.
Adam Drewnowski, PhD, professor at the University of Washington, has showcased the Affordable Nutrition Index (ANI), at the American Dietetic Association's Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, which is the first and only tool to analyse food's nutritional profile and its cost value in terms of nutrition-value-per-dollar.
The ANI measures a food score based on nine essential nutrients to encourage: protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E; and three nutrients to limit: saturated fat, added sugars and sodium.
Drewnowski's study found that dark coloured vegetables, some fruits and vegetable soups were the most reasonably priced, nutritious foods among almost 300 commonly taken foods.
Speaking about the study, Drewnowski said: "In today's economy, more people are making food choices based solely on cost, so it's important to guide them on ways to get nutritious options without hurting their wallets.
"It is important to identify a wide range of affordable, nutritious choices that can help people build a balanced diet that fits their lifestyle and budget."
Drewnowski's believes obesity rates can get worse if people are unable to find nutritious foods within their budget.
He said: "The obesity epidemic in this country has the potential to get even worse if people are unable to find nutritious choices they can afford and that also fit with their lifestyle.
"I'm hoping the Dietary Guidelines set to be released in 2010 will include the importance of affordable nutrition in its recommendations."
Stressing on the need for healthy and affordable foods he said: "Ease, familiarity and enjoyment are critical to developing lifelong habits," said Drewnowski. "If nutrition and health professionals can get people to include affordable, nutritious and convenient foods as part of a balanced diet, we have moved them a step in the right direction toward healthful eating."