A New System to Help You Identify Affordable Nutrition

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Health conscious people desire to get the most nutrition for the least amount of money but for many of us, knowing how to do that can be difficult. I have previously written several articles related to recession eating that outline some strategies you can use. Now, there may be a new tool to help.

A new tool called the Affordable Nutrition Index (ANI) evaluated over 300 foods to assess the nutritional profile compared to cost to create a nutrition-value-per-dollar score. The nutrition value score takes into consideration nine essential nutrients that we should be including in our diet. The key nutrients included are protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C and E. The score also takes into consideration three key nutrients that are important to limit in our diets, which are saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. The ANI was introduced to Registered Dietitians at their Food and Nutrition Expo last week.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans were used as a guide for the ANI review and scoring which found that dark colored vegetables provided the best nutrition for the dollar with fruits and vegetable soup following behind as the most affordable nutritious foods. Some other key findings included:

  • Carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli were not only top vegetables but also at the very top of the ANI scale for all foods.

  • Oranges and bananas were the top scoring fruits. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, nectarines, and apples also rated high as well.

  • Peas, string beans, squash and lettuce are other top picks to get the most nutrition for your dollar whether cooked or fresh.

  • Surprisingly, twenty-five Campbell's soups were evaluated with the ANI scale. Low sodium condensed vegetable soup varieties that are certified as heart-healthy by the American Heart Association were also top rating, cost-effective sources of nutrition.
It is unclear how this new ANI tool will be used in the future since it was just revealed. With the new updated Dietary Guidelines due in 2010 and a nation that is looking to eat well on a budget during tough times, I'm sure we will see more with this tool in the coming year.

Do you think a tool of this nature is helpful? How do you think it could best be used to benefit consumers?