Over the Chill
For years there’s been debate about whether it’s a good idea to eat frozen foods. The reality is that simply freezing a food item is not what makes it less healthy — some leading health organizations say frozen food is actually as nutritious as fresh, and certain nutrients in food are even better preserved when frozen. The key difference to look for when considering buying frozen food is the nutritional content of the food item and any potential additives: Frozen fruits and vegetables on their own are typically healthy, but it’s better to stay away from items such as pizzas, snacks, or entrees that may include a lot of added sugar, sodium, or high-calorie sauces. Here’s a closer look at some frozen foods to avoid putting in a shopping cart. (Looking to avoid the worst offenders in the snack aisle? Here are The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods.)
Any’tizers Boneless Chicken Bites, Honey BBQ Flavored
Boneless chicken bites with honey and barbecue sauce — sounds great, right? Wrong. Bart Wolbers, researcher and chief science writer for Alexfergus.com, suggests consumers review the ingredients before buying. A partial list includes brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, canola oil, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, polysorbate 80, smoke flavor, sodium benzoate (as a preservative), and sodium phosphates. “As you can see, many different types of sugars are added,” says Wolbers, who has a master’s degree in clinical health science. According to the packaging, each three-ounce serving (roughly the size of your palm, so just a few bites) contains about 7 grams of sugar, not to mention 510 milligrams of sodium (21 percent of the recommended daily allowance).
Tombstone Original Pepperoni Pizza
Again, just take a gander at the ingredients before buying, Wolbers suggests. “I count 38,” Wolbers says. “For those specializing in nutrition, that’s a horrible list, let alone the average person walking through a supermarket.” The list includes salt, sugar, and what Wolbers calls toxic vegetable oils, such as soybean and corn oil, which are not heat-stable. There’s also yeast, different types of meat (pork, chicken, and beef), artificial flavorings, and preservatives. “The more ingredients included, the higher the reward for your brain becomes — and the greater the addictive potential.” Each serving of the pizza (which is a quarter of the pie) contains 17 grams of fat and 780 milligrams of sodium. Looking for an alternative? We Tasted 13 Frozen Pizzas and This Is the Best