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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

Healthy Brown Bag Challenge: Beware of Frozen Meals

Low-calorie/low-fat frozen meals are often a quick “go to” in the grocery store for busy people looking for an easy, healthful lunch. Given the alternative of high-fat choices from fast-food restaurants or skipping lunch altogether, these frozen meals may look pretty good.
 
However, there are health concerns lurking in these convenient frozen meals. For example, these foods often have high sodium levels. In fact, the sodium content in one frozen meal may fulfill or even exceed the recommended daily amount. Did you know that the daily maximum for the general population is 2,300 mg of sodium and 1,500 mg per day for individuals with high blood pressure? So don’t trade low calories for high sodium for the sake of convenience. Be sure to check the nutrition label with an eye on the sodium.
 
Busy buyers also need to beware that frozen meals may provide only a fraction of the vegetables, fruits and grains you need daily. Current recommendations to promote overall health and lower cancer risk call for a total of five to 11 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Most frozen meals supply a very small portion of fruits and veggies.
 
What’s more, buying these ready-made frozen meals does nothing to educate you on preparing healthy meals. During this week’s challenge, focus on learning how to make healthful food choices that fit in your lifestyle to sustain healthy habits. Take a few minutes to prepare lunch–it’s healthier and tastier than the pre-packaged microwave meals offered in the frozen food aisles.  I’ll meet you in the lunchroom!
 
Written by Sarah Plentl MS, RD, LDN, Wake County Human Services, Health Promotion Chronic Disease Prevention
 
More on frozen foods:  Eat Smart Move More NC 2 minute video on the frozen food aisle
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