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The true cost of eating healthy

The true cost of eating healthy

At $120 per month (that’s the average cost of 2 servings per day on a subscription plan), Step One Foods may appear expensive.  

But it’s important to remember that these foods are meant to be a substitute for something you are eating already, not an add-on.  Also, our products are purchased in bulk – rather than one at a time like a snack bar at your grocery’s checkout counter.  These two factors might make the foods seem more expensive than they really are.  

In addition, it’s also important to point out that two servings of Step One Foods deliver, on average, about 320 calories, 11 grams of fiber, 2 grams of essential omega 3 fatty acids, 2 grams of plant sterols and the antioxidant equivalent of 3 servings of fruits/vegetables.  With the exception of the pancakes (which contain baking powder) the foods are essentially sodium free and contain only minor amounts of naturally occurring saturated fat.

So what if you spent your money differently?

What if you just ate a Sausage Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s for breakfast every day?  The price of that item varies a bit depending on where you live, but the national average is $2.99.

Sausage Egg McMuffin:  $2.99/day – or $89.70 per month. Leaves only a dollar for your daily snack while delivering (in one serving) 440 calories 11 grams of saturated fat, 220 mg of cholesterol, and 840 mg of sodium.  Fiber? 2 g.  Antioxidants? Healthy omega-3 fatty acids?  Plant sterols – you can round those to 0.  

What if, instead, you chose a donut ($0.99) at Dunkin’ for breakfast and a Nature Valley Granola Bar for a snack ($0.59)?   $1.58/day or $47.40 per month.  Seems like a bargain until you dig into the nutritional impact. 

I’m going to assume that you’d pick something middle of the road at Dunkin’ – like a Cinnamon Stick.  Combine that with the granola bar and you’re at 620 calories, 15 grams of saturated fat, 530 mg of sodium, and 25 grams of added sugar (half your day’s limit).  But only 2 grams of fiber, and no healthy fats, antioxidants, or plant sterols.

At this point, you might be thinking – but I eat better than that.  OK - how about an English Muffin ($0.55) with peanut butter ($0.20) for breakfast and a Kind bar ($1.29) for snack?  Total cost $2.04 or $61.20 per month.  Half of what you’d spend on Step One.  

Total nutritional impact?  520 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, 530 mg sodium, and 10 grams of fiber*. Still no plant sterols, few antioxidants, and low levels of healthful fats.  Obviously better than a donut and granola bar, but in some ways not by much.  

And what if you decided to just add in the nutrients you’re missing through supplements? Metamucil ($0.59 for 11 g fiber), Cholestoff ($1.33 for 1.8 grams plant sterols), flaxseed oil supplements ($0.43 for 2.1 g omega 3), and a turmeric/curcumin supplement for antioxidant support ($0.51 per serving)?  The total cost is $2.86 or $85.80 per month – except you haven’t had a bite of food yet!  Nor have you consumed the nutrients in context.  

Fully supplementing the above food choices brings your Egg McMuffin option to $176 per month with lots of stuff you don’t want and stuff you do need in a much less bioavailable form.  Ditto for the donut and granola bar, though at essentially the same price as you’d pay for Step One.  The English muffin, PB and Kind bar approach doesn’t need additional fiber so that brings your total to $129.30 per month. With no proof – with any of the alternative examples - that your health or your cholesterol would be any better. Suddenly the value of whole-food ingredients, without the need for additional supplements, becomes clear.

Given all that, I would argue that Step One Foods are a bargain for what they deliver! Not to mention that they are clinically proven to lower cholesterol and that every ingredient in every product was chosen for its documented health-promoting properties.  

Finally, I would leave you with an observation from my cardiology practice.  In the grand scheme of things, eating for health is not expensive. What’s really expensive is being sick.

 

*Most of the fiber comes from added inulin which would be expected to be less impactful from a health perspective than fiber from whole foods as in Step One’s products.  


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