Friday, November 11, 2011

Packet meals - Things to watch for in packaged meals or seasoning packets

Many good meals can come from a packet mix. The big thing to remember is that sometimes the worst of "food" can come from the seasoning.

A few things to especially watch for in pre-packaged or "semi" home-made meals are:
- hydrogenated oils. These are also called "trans fats." Hydrogenization is a chemical process where unsaturated fats are processed and become saturated fats. It is not often that we see "fully hydrogenated" oils, so instead, these partially hydrogenated oils are especially dangerous because our bodies do not know exactly what to do with them. Instead, they stick and clog our arteries. So why do companies add hydrogen to their oils? So the oil will last longer and the food can have a longer shelf life. Since trans fats RAISE your bad cholesterol and LOWER your good cholesterol, it definitely affects your "ratio" and may be linked to multiple sclerosis, besides most heart-related illnesses.
- BHT and/or BHA also di-sodium EDTA . These chemical compounds are often added to foods that have fats to keep the shelf life. They may be considered anti-oxidants, but it isn't the positive sounding thing you'd think they'd be. You're likely to find these in popular breakfast cereals. So, what's the problem with these preservatives? They (likely) INCREASE the risk of CANCER. They may also be related to food sensitivity (I don't know about you but it seems most kids have some food they can't tolerate these days, where 20 years ago there was maybe 1 or possibly 2 kids in a classroom with any problems.  There is also research that suggests these items can affect behavior, especially with ADHD.

- Sodium. Sodium and salt are often found in extremely high levels in pre-packaged food. Too much sodium can affect your heart health. This WEBMD slide show is a pretty good one. With the level of sodium the average person should get in a day ranges from 1500-2300, imagine ones surprise when a serving of:

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese - 580 mg/serving
Betty Crocker - Cheeseburger Macaroni - 914/serving
Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodles - 891/serving

It can quickly add up!

Other items to watch for in packet meals are:
artificial colors (especially red dye #40 if you suspect or have anyone in your household with ADHD, troubles concentrating or other behavioral issues), fiber (a "good" meal should have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, many packaged meals have none), whole grains.

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