A new study, published in the March issue of the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition found that individuals who participated in a six-week cooking program and followed simple, plant-based recipes decreased their total food spending, purchased healthier food items and improved their food security.
Mary Flynn, Ph.D., RD, LDN, the study’s lead author and a research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital and associate professor of medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, designed the study. She points out that meat, poultry and seafood are the most expensive items in a food budget, especially the recommended lower-fat versions. Typical households of lower socioeconomic status spend grocery money first on these items, allocating far less to vegetables and fruits. However, by changing the focus to the elimination of foods not needed to improve health — such as meat, snacks, desserts and carbonated beverages — a healthy diet can be quite economical.
83 individuals were recruited from emergency food pantries and low-income housing sites for the 34 week study. Participants attended six weeks of cooking classes, where instructors prepared quick and easy plant-based recipes that incorporated ingredients like olive oil, whole grain pasta, brown rice and fruits and vegetables. The participants were then followed for six months after the cooking program ended.
The study participants experienced the following benefits:
- Financial: Cut their food spending by more than half, saving nearly $40 per week
- Health: Approximately half of the participants lost weight, and there was an overall decrease in body mass index.
“Our results suggest that including a few plant-based meals per week is an attainable goal that will not only improve their health and diet, but also lower their food costs,” says Flynn.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
Want to learn more about what exactly is the plant-based, mediterranean diet? Read this article!