Ready made meals may be the convenient option for busy mothers and the workforce, especially after a tiring long day spent in the office or looking after children.

Yet news reports are constantly highlighting how eating processed and ready made food is bad for you and can contribute to various health problems.

Modern society makes it too easy to choose a frozen pizza over fresh vegetables or to go to a drive-thru restaurant instead of sitting down at the family table.

Studies show that the majority of individuals would rather choose ready made meals and fast food restaurants as they are considered to be convenient and a good way to save time. Yet many popular brands of ready meals contain many unhealthy ingredients. Here are just some of the main reasons to avoid ready meals for best health.

1. Ready made meals contain GMOs

The vast majority of ready made meals contain high amounts of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs contain a lethal poison and are incredibly destructive to organs. This can have an impact on bone health along with the kidneys and liver.

Take a look at the back of your ready meal and you will be able to see its ingredients including canola oil, corn syrup, corn starch, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, maltodextrin or sugar. If your ready meal contains any of these ingredients then it’s likely you are consuming a meal filled with GMOs.



2. High in Refined Carbohydrates

Many ready meals are made with rice or pasta as the staple and these foods are high in refined carbohydrates. Grains, even wholegrains are high on the glycemic index and these can have an acidic effect on the body.

Many of the grains in ready meals are also highly processed and refined meaning that they are stripped of any beneficial nutrients. These “simple” carbohydrates are then broken down by the digestive tract and have the same effects as sugar when it comes to damaging bone health.



3. Low in Fiber

Fiber is important for good digestive health, skin health, heart health and bone health. By decreasing inflammation, fiber can control blood sugar levels and decrease the incidence or risk of bowel conditions.

Fiber is often lost during the processing of ready made meals and where it is present, it’s often unhealthy as it’s chemically produced.

As an example, cellulose is often added to bulk-up foods and this fake fiber is indigestible to the body. The food industry often added this ingredient to low calorie foods to make consumers feel more satiated.


4. High in Salt

Ready meals are packed full of excess salt with a typical frozen dinner containing around 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one serving – some even exceed this number. The low end of the scale is 1500 milligrams or 1/4 of a teaspoon, while the upper safe limit is 2300mg.

One Japanese study from 2013 found that postmenopausal women who were consuming a diet high in salt were four times more likely to have a bone fracture.

Excess salt consumption can cause bone loss and even lead to calcium loss in the kidneys. The salt in ready meals is processed and bleached and this is different to sea salt such as Pink Himalayan sea salt that contains many bone-building minerals.



5. Contain Hidden Sugar

Ready meals are full of hidden sugars, even if it might not seem it. Meals with low levels of sugar can be deceptive as they use artificial sugars on food labels and these can be listed as dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, molasses and corn syrup to name just a few.

Sugar has a highly acidic effect that’s very similar to salt in that excess consumption can cause the excretion of calcium and other valuable bone-building minerals. Sugar has also been linked to increased cortisol levels and how this can have an extremely erosive effect on bone cartilage.




6. Contains Artificial Ingredients

Read the food label on the back of your favourite frozen ready meal and analyse the ingredient list. It’s likely that there will be at least 20 ingredients you’ve never even heard of. Many popular ready meals can contain over 100 ingredients and additives!

Coloring additives and MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) are most common and these can have a direct effect on bone health. Chemicals are often added to preserve the food and prevent it from rotting.

Artificial flavours can enhance taste while texturants give food a particular texture. Some of them are not even listed on the label and so therefore it’s essential to look closely at what you’re eating. As a general rule, the more ingredients listed on a label, the less healthy it is.

7. Low in Bone Building Nutrients

Ready meals are low in essential nutrients and vitamins that are necessary for good bone health. Many foods lose nutritional value when they are cooked and meals that are heavily processed and over prepared sometimes don’t even make it to the grocery store.

Ready made meals may contain small amounts of nutrients and these are often synthetically produced and then added back into the product.

Vegetables are rarely found in ready meals and those that are included often tend to be genetically modified.





8. Ready Made Meals Are Highly Addictive

Ready meals are designed by food manufacturers to appeal to customer’s tastebuds. They usually combine foods that are high in sugars and fats as they release dopamine, the brain’s “feelgood” chemicals that control the reward and pleasure centres.

As ready meals are packed full of sugar and fat they can enhance cravings and create the desire to consume larger amounts of foods to reach the same ‘rewarding’ feeling.



There Is A Healthier Solution To Ready Meals…

You don’t have to sacrifice convenience or taste when it comes to enjoying delicious meals. Thankfully, there are now many healthy alternatives to ready made meals.

Many ready meals contain grains and excess amounts of sugar and salt to enhance their flavours. The good news is that you can now enjoy a quick and healthy meal – cooked within only 5 minutes!


Recommended Examples

One of the best that we recommend is pasta made from legumes. Choose from a wide variety of flavours and shapes. Really Healthy Pasta™ is made from one single ingredient (legumes) and nothing else.

From fusilli to penne, Really Healthy Pasta™ is presented in black bean, buckwheat and golden flaxseed, chickpea, mung bean and red lentil flavours. Available from Good Health Naturally.