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How to Spend Less Than 3 Dollars a Day on Healthy Produce


Do you eat enough fruits and veggies? If price is a deterrent for getting your five a day, a new U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service study has good news for your wallet—and your diet. You can get your daily fill of produce for just over two bucks.

An adult eating a 2,000-calorie daily diet needs 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables. These recommendations could be met for $2.10 to $2.60 a day in 2013, per the study.

Here's an example of a day's worth of produce that totals only $2.12. Remember: A healthy diet can include fresh, canned, and frozen fruit and veggies.

1 cup apple slices: $.42

Apples offer up to 12 percent of your daily need for fiber, important for helping to keep you full. Plus, research in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that people eating an apple or more a day tend to require fewer prescription medications. Use them in Apple Recipes You Haven't Tried Before too.

1 cup watermelon: $.21

Like its name suggests, watermelon is 92 percent water, helping to keep you hydrated. The fruit gets its red hue from the antioxidant lycopene, which may help lower risk of heart disease. Watermelon also contains blood-pressure-helping potassium, as well as vision-promoting vitamin A.

1/2 cup broccoli florets: $.44

Broccoli is an excellent source of immunity-helping vitamin C and also provides vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. Additionally, a study in Cancer Prevention Research shows that eating broccoli may help lower your risk of lung cancer.

1/2 cup Roma tomatoes: $.26

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and offer up vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium—as well as several B vitamins, important for energy. Plus, there are a million creative tomato recipes.

1/2 cup frozen green beans: $.28

Frozen fruit can be just as nutritious as fresh! Green beans provide vitamin C and the mineral manganese, a mineral that helps control blood sugar.

1/2 cup canned pinto beans: $.26

This year is coined the year of the pulses, and for good reason—a 1/2 cup of pinto beans provides 7 grams of cholesterol-helping fiber, up to 31 percent of your daily need, and 6 grams of protein, 11 percent of the daily need for a 150-pound woman. In meal planning, beans can count as a protein or a vegetable (but not both).

1/2 cup canned corn: $.25

When shopping for canned vegetables, choose the no-salt-added variety when possible. A serving of corn provides fiber, plus 2 grams of protein.

Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She is a nutrition consultant, motivational speaker, and brand ambassador for the National Watermelon Promotion Board.