FORT MYERS, Fla. - This year, the USDA unveiled its new version of the food pyramid, known as MyPlate. It advises eaters to fill half of their plates with fruits and veggies, and the other half with a protein and grains.
"MyPlate really wants people to eat less," Registered Dietician Elaine Hastings said. "The whole goal is yes, eat a variety, but eat less."
But a new study found just getting the recommended amount of potassium in the MyPlate plan would add $380 dollars to the average consumer's yearly grocery bill. At a time when money is already tight for many Americans, local diet and nutrition experts worry the results will discourage shoppers from making healthy choices.
"We're living here in Florida, where we have wonderful fruits that provide tons of potassium," Registered Dietician Dee Harris said. "We have local melons that are just teriffic, and you can get them very inexpensively in the summer. Coconut water is the easiest way to get potassium."
The report found that 15 percent of Americans say they don't have enough money to eat the way they want to eat. But eating better may not always cost you more. The idea is the replace the bad foods with the good. For example, a bag of potato chips will cost you more than a 3 pound bag of apples.
"We could probably save double that by following the food guide pyramid just in our healthcare and insurances," Hastings said.
Experts say portion size is key. If you cut down your intake, the cost of healthy, nutrient-rich food should even out.
"Start getting passionate about your body because that has to carry you many years," Harris said. "Once you a abuse it, it's really hard to get back."
The Union of Concerned Scientists also released a report this week, asking the government to do more to make fruits and vegetables for accessible to the poor.