Stay Healthy on 15 Nutrient-Rich, Affordable Foods

Tuesday Oct 6 | BY |
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Portrait of happy young housewife putting money into piggy bank after shopping on local market

When you’re on a budget, you can still eat healthy if you’re careful about your choices.

Can we really eat healthy on a budget?

That’s been up for debate for awhile. In a 2010 study, for instance, researchers noted that “food prices pose a significant barrier for many consumers who are trying to balance good nutrition and affordability.”

A later 2013 review of 27 studies from 10 countries reported that unhealthy food is about $1.50 cheaper per day, adding up to about $550 per year, than healthy food.

What these studies don’t include? The increased health-care costs associated with eating an unhealthy diet.

Still, it can be difficult when facing day-to-day decisions to make the right ones based on long-term gain—such as staying out of the hospital fifteen or twenty years from now. Fortunately, eating healthy doesn’t have to be an either-or thing. We can make choices that are economical, yet nutritious.

What are those choices?

15 Affordable, Nutrient-Dense Foods

What qualifies as a “nutrient-dense” or “nutrient-rich” food? In this case, it’s not just a food that has a lot of nutrients, but one that is also reasonable in terms of calories and cost. Many foods are rich in nutrients and very good for you, but may also be high in calories and/or cost you quite a bit more.

Consuming a nutrient-rich diet is likely to be kinder to your wallet and result in better long-term health. A study by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that families who consumed low-calorie, high-nutrient foods not only improved their health, but reduced the amount of money they spent on food.

A more recent 2015 study of nearly 5,000 participants aged 55 and older found that those who ate the most nutrient-rich foods had a lower risk of all-cause mortality. “Consuming a nutrient-rich diet may improve survival,” the researchers wrote.

Below are 15 foods that you can put at the top of your low-cost, nutrient-rich list. Please let us know if you have others!

Nutrient Dense Foods Chart 2

Do you have a favorite nutrient-dense food? Please share with our readers.

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Adam Drewnowski, et al., “Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet?” Nutr Today., November 2010; 44(6):246-249,

Mayuree Rao, et al., “Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis,” BMJ Open, 2013; 3:e004277,

Jane E. Brody, “Eating Well on a Downsized Food Budget,” New York Times, March 2, 2009;

M. T. Streppel, et al., “Nutrient-rich foods, cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality: the Rotterdam study,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2014; 68:741-747,

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho.


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  1. Donna says:

    I love this! Thank you.

  2. Mandy says:

    The sad thing is that people often don’t have, or refuse to make, the time to go health-food shopping or to make homecooked meals. Junkfood companies are making more than ever and even though awareness of personal health is increasing, it still isn’t looking good. Thats why we need to educate people on healthy food supplements like this one:

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