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5 Ingredients to Avoid in Pre-Made Meals

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Every time we’re out shopping, we’re bombarded with images of delicious dinners, succulent feasts dripping with sauce and gravy. Not only are they tasty, but they take mere seconds to microwave. Dinner has never looked so easy – or unhealthy. There’s a reason those foods look too good to be true, and when manufacturers load your meals with every form of preservative and flavoring, it’s your body that pays the price. Here are five ingredients to avoid in pre-made meals.

1. Artificial Flavoring/Sweeteners/Coloring

Pre-made meals have never been the most appetizing of foods, but that doesn’t stop manufacturers from trying to make them look mouth-watering. So, they pump every form of artificial flavoring, sweetener and coloring into the food, to make them stand out and appear appetizing, even if nothing could be further from the truth.

Synthetic dies, saccharine, Acesulfame-K all make the food colorful and make it taste like ‘real’ food, but can impact your metabolism and can cause anything from allergic reactions to fatigue, asthma, headaches and even dizziness and hallucinations.

2. Benzoate Preservatives

One of the attractions of pre-made meals is the ease of simply throwing them in your freezer and taking them out the next time you’re not really in the mood to cook dinner. To make this happen, however, the meals are infused with benzoate preservatives, which keeps the food from going off and becoming rank.

The tradeoff, however, is that benzoate preservatives are not good for you. They do prevent the growth of bacteria and other malignant microorganisms, but has been known to cause cancer. Enough quantities can also affect oestrogen levels.

3. MSG

We’ve all heard of the dangers of monosodium glutamate, but it’s everywhere – salad dressing, chips, soups, frozen foods etc. have it to enhance flavor in otherwise bland meals. But MSG carries a laundry list of adverse health effects, such as nausea, headaches, breathing problems, and can even affect the heart.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup

In an attempt to make some pre-made foods healthier, certain manufacturers remove the fat content from those foods, allowing them to market those products as ‘fat free’. However, this process has a negative effect on the taste. To cover up the deficiency, the manufacturers replace the fat with corn syrup or other synthetic sugars, letting them sell these pre-made meals as ‘fat free’ and ‘very tasty’.

The truth, however, is much less sweet. Too much sugar can cause diabetes, make your body turn otherwise healthy glucose into fat, and can even cause liver damage (since excessive amounts of sugar are not easily broken down by the liver). Try a health food store to get some alternative sugars for flavoring and sweetening.

5. Hydrogenated Oils

Cooking oils are expensive to create, so manufacturers often turn to hydrogenated oils, or partially hydrogenated oils, to offset the costs and still serve a product. However, hydrogenated oils are loaded with trans fats, which are incredibly unhealthy. They promote the production of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body, which significantly increases the risk of heart failure.

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