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New Study: Falafel Is The Cheapest Healthy Food Out There

When I lived in Tel Aviv, there was a small, rickety food stand run by an angry old Turk next to the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. There I could snag a falafel for 12 NIS (about three American dollars). It came with a bowl of delicately swirled hummus, positively quivering with delight at the prospect of being eaten, French fries still twitching feebly from the fryer, falafel balls rolled in schug and spice, all wrapped up in soggy lettuce, roasted eggplant exploding out of the corners, tinily sliced tomatoes nestled into the books and crannies of the monstrous thing. It seemed almost alive to me, the sauces glistening with life, an entire meal in a self contained pocket.

Image by Priceonomics./Sxreenshot

When I saw the Priceonomics study ranking the most and least nutritious meals for your dollar, with falafel prominently placed at the top of the list with a health score of 3.52 out of 5, everything seemed to fall into place: Of course falafel was healthy. (Chicken noodle soup, at number 15, scraped in with a lower but still respectable score of 3.15.)

Everyone knows eating well will cost you. But how much more? According to the study, “for every quarter-point increase in a dinner’s health score, you can expect to pay about a dollar more per serving.”

Using the Nutrient Rich Food Index and the help of experts, this study analyzed which food will give you the most bang for your buck. It verified what I already sort of knew: That in the world of overpriced kale leaves and artisanal rotisserie chickens, falafel was a cheap and vibrant anomaly.

Shira Feder is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at feder@forward.com

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