A study by the Harvard School of public health has determined that healthy eating will cost you roughly $1.50 more per day. "That’s less than we might have expected,” says lead study author Mayuree Rao, whose findings were published in the British Medical Journal.
“Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it’s never been clear if that’s actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost,” Rao says.
She and her colleagues reviewed 27 different food cost studies and looked at food patterns in ten different countries, comparing healthy and unhealthy options, and adjusting for international currencies and inflations. Prices were evaluated based on a given food's price per serving and price per 200 calories.
“Our aim was not to evaluate whether one specific product costs more than another, but whether healthier foods in a broad class of foods cost more, on average, than less healthy foods in the same broad class,” the study reads. Some food groups had higher differentials between healthy and unhealthy options. At the top of the list was meat, with healthier options costing 29 cents more on average.
$1.50 might not sound like a lot but, according to Rao, it adds up about $550 a year per person. Still, that's cheaper than medical coverage for heart disease, diabetes, and other long-term illnesses associated with poor eating.