Healthy Products That Don't Break the Bank

During more flush economic times, the Aeron desk chair was an office status symbol for investment bankers and Internet wunderkinder alike -- at a hefty $850, it promised superior comfort, support, and performance. But a desk chair shouldn't break the bank. "To prevent and reduce lower-back pain, you need a seat adjusted to the right height, and you need good spine support -- that's it," says Robert Watkins Jr., MD, codirector of the Marina Spine Center in Marina Del Rey, CA. And research shows that a lumbar pillow can do just that. (They can be found at most drugstores for as little as $15.) Get one with straps so you can secure it in place. Then make sure you're sitting correctly: Adjust the height of your chair so your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle while you type, and sit up straight, with your chest out and your head directly above your spine, which will take stress off your shoulders and upper back, says Watkins.

Healthy Cooking For Less

Preserve Vitamins and Minerals

FOR $5

BUY: Steam Basket

Steaming retains nutrients (especially vitamin C and folic acid) better than other cooking methods do -- plus, it requires no fat.

Cut Fat

FOR $10

BUY: Oil Sprayer

Even though oils such as olive and canola are great for your heart, use them too liberally and the calories add up. "A mister lets you stretch your oil, cut calories, and, over time, save money on buying those disposable spray cans," says Bauer. "I spritz oil on veggies before I roast them and chicken when I bake it."

Control Your Portions

FOR $15

BUY: Food Scale

A mechanical model that offers pounds and ounces is all you need to measure out healthy portions, such as 1 dry ounce of cereal or 2 dry ounces of pasta (for 1 cup cooked). People typically pour double the proper amount of cereal and easily eat two servings of pasta, says Bauer. "I keep my scale front and center on my counter."

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More from Prevention:

20 Ways to Feed Your Family for $100 a Week

Buy Organic on a Budget

20 Home Remedies that Work

Save Money on Your Energy Bill

3 Worth-It Expenses

These pricier products are worth the health investment.

Breathe Easier

1. HEPA vacuum cleaner

A mechanical model that offers pounds and ounces is all you need to measure out healthy portions, such as 1 dry ounce of cereal or 2 dry ounces of pasta (for 1 cup cooked). People typically pour double the proper amount of cereal and easily eat two servings of pasta, says Bauer. "I keep my scale front and center on my counter."

Two of Consumer Reports' top-rated vacuums with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters are the Hoover Wind Tunnel Anniversary Edition ($230) and Kenmore Progressive Upright ($350).

Why it's worth the splurge: "HEPA vacuums remove the fine dust particles that contaminate indoor air," says scientist Gina Soloman, MD. "The dust you can't see is what gets deepest into your lungs." And research shows dust has bacteria that can hurt respiratory health.

Brighten Your Smile

2. Electric Toothbrush Rotating oscillating models and vibrating sonic varieties are equally effective and cost about $100, says Doyle Williams, DDS, assistant adjunct professor at Tufts. The $5 disposable types don't get under the gums and between teeth as well.

Why it's worth the splurge: Studies found that electronic versions removed plaque 11 percent better and fought gingivitis 6 percent more effectively over a 3-month period.

Ease Asthma

3. Air Purifier

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