In the last twenty years ready meals have become big business, in fact we spent over £2 billion on them last year alone. As our lives get busier, ready meals have become more and more popular with cooking from scratch becoming a rarity. However, with convenience comes unhealthy ingredients, saturated fats, additives and sugar, all of which can make instant meals a very unhealthy choice. Here are the top five reasons you should avoid processed, fast food if you can.
Vitamins and minerals are synthetic
Because of the processes they go for before they end up in the packet on the supermarket shelves, ready meals are actually devoid of most naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Because this wouldn’t look too good to consumers on the front of the packaging, synthetic vitamins and minerals are pumped into the food instead. However, these components are not nearly as good as the original sources, harder for our bodies to digest and are essentially chemicals, which the meals have enough of already.
They can make you fat
Have you ever noticed that a ready meal doesn’t fill you up as much as a home-cooked meal? Well it is not surprising as the portions are typically far smaller in a ready meal but more calorie dense than natural options. They are also full of low quality ingredients which don’t fill you up very much. As well as putting on weight because of the unhealthy ingredients and high fat content in these meals, you are also likely to snack soon after finishing one because it hasn’t satisfied your hunger. Do this a few times a week and it is a recipe for putting on a lot of weight.
They are full of sugar, fat or both
It is well known that sugar is extremely addictive and recent research puts the substance alongside cocaine and heroine in terms of how easy it is to get hooked on it. In many ready meals the fat has simply been replaced by sugar to keep the taste and sugar can be as damaging if not more to the body than fat. Sugar can alter cells and promote cancer, damage internal organs, cause tooth decay and even break down the skins collagen and promote faster aging. Doesn’t sound too appetizing now does it?
They are packed with additives and preservatives
As well as the sugar and fat they are normally full of, they are also packed with artificial additives and preservatives. Because the nutritional quality of most of the ingredients is so poor, ready meals needs something else in them to make them appealing to your tastebuds, otherwise they would be very bland or virtually tasteless. Ever wonder why fast food can last so much longer than fresh? Because it is full of chemicals to extend its shelf life and in turn line the pockets of the food manufactures. The problem with all these chemicals is that they can alter the genetic make up of your body, unbalance hormones and mutate cells, all of which can lead to chronic and life threatening conditions and diseases.
They are full of salt
Ready meals are typically full of sodium which studies have shown can cause a huge amount of health problems if eaten in high quantities long-term. Some ready meals contain over twice the daily recommended salt intake for an adult and that doesn’t include any you add to your food after cooking. Salt can cause fluid retention around the heart which causes high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes and even heart attacks.
More on unhealthy diets
5 Foods kids should not be eating and healthy replacements
Can being too healthy make us unhealthy?
What is the Western diet doing to our bodies?