Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dietary Changes That Save You Money

Last time we looked at the high cost of being overweight or obese. Today I’d like to brighten the news and give you some very doable changes you can make to keep more money in your bank account. Let’s begin with the biggest money saver – lowering blood pressure.

In July 2009 the American Journal of Health Prevention reported that experts estimated that a 400 mg. reduction in daily sodium intake would affect some 1.5 million people with uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), saving each of them on average over $1500 per year. While I wrote in September that it can be difficult to meet the daily sodium intake limits set by the American Heart Association, a 400 mg decrease in sodium is a very realistic goal. Several soup manufacturers offer a low sodium version of their soups, many of which would save you 400 mg of sodium or more in just one serving. Switching to salt free cottage cheese saves 420 mg per serving while using less sodium teriyaki sauce means 290 mg less sodium per serving compared to the original. Look for reduced sodium versions of all kinds of foods in your supermarket and at

If overweight or obesity is your concern, you may be pleased to know that the Journal reported that a 100 calorie reduction in food intake per day would save some 71 million people an estimated $815 a year. Like sodium, there are many ways to accomplish a 100 calorie reduction. If you eat chocolate covered Oreos, eliminating just one gets you 115 fewer calories that day. Or you could substitute it for a regular Oreo and save half the calories. Switching from regular beer to light beer will save you 40 calories per serving, while eliminating one beer altogether saves 140 calories on average. One glass of wine is about 120 calories and that shot of rum in your rum and Coke is about 65. Of course, you could start drinking diet Coke and save 150 calories per can!

Finally researchers looked at what lowering high cholesterol would save each of the almost 4 million people affected and found it was over $500 per year. To accomplish these savings, this population would need to reduce their saturated fat intake 5 g per day. Saturated fat is found in animal products such as butter, milk, and meat. An 8 ounce glass of whole milk has about 8 g of saturated fat, 2% has 5 g, 1% has 2 g and non-fat or skim milk has less than .5 g. Choosing chicken (without the skin) or fish over sausage or bacon will result in similar reductions. While 1 tablespoon of butter has 7 g of saturated fat, margarines have trans fat, another dietary hornet's nest we won’t get into here. Strive to cut your intake of both in half and your unhealthy fat intake will decrease accordingly.

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