The Mediterranean Diet: Good for Your Health and Your Budget

New research from the University of South Australia shows that the Mediterranean diet is not only good for your health but also for your weekly budget, saving a family of four $28 per week compared to the typical Western diet.

The study compared the nutrition profile and weekly costs of three food baskets based on: the typical Australian western diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

It found that the Mediterranean diet and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating met recommendations for food groups, macronutrient distribution and key micronutrients associated with good health, but the typical Australian diet significantly lacked fibre, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B6, and had double the recommended salt intake.

The Mediterranean diet cost $78 per week for a single person household, $135 for a household of two, $211 for a family of three, and $285 for a family of four.

“Diet is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for chronic disease. Yet a significant number of Australians are still not consuming a balanced healthy diet,” Bracci says.

“To help combat unhealthy food choices, global agencies are increasingly endorsing plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean diet as their preferred guide to healthy eating. The challenge, however, has been for people to adopt these in Australia and one of the greatest barriers is perceived cost.

“The Mediterranean diet encourages eating fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, seeds and seafood, and there is a view that these foods are more expensive. And with the cost of living being so high in Australia, it’s no surprise that people are being careful about where their hard-earned dollars go.

“This research shows how a Mediterranean diet can be a cost-effective option, letting people prioritize both their health and their hip pocket.”

“Eating a balanced healthy diet doesn’t have to break the bank, but eating unhealthy food can damage your body,” Assoc Prof Murphy says.

“Whether you prefer to follow the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating or the Mediterranean diet, both provide the necessary nutrients and energy, but as this study shows, the Mediterranean diet is generally less expensive.

“A $28 dollar saving may not seem like much a week, but over a year this is nearly $1500, which can make all the difference to your budget when times are tough.”


Ella L. Bracci, Courtney R. Davis, Karen J. Murphy. Developing a Mediterranean Healthy Food Basket and an Updated Australian Healthy Food Basket Modelled on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Nutrients, 2023; 15 (7): 1692 DOI: 10.3390/nu15071692

University of South Australia. “The Mediterranean Diet: Good for your health and your hip pocket.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2023. <>.

Images from:

Photo by Brooke Lark