Many 'processed' foods - particularly portion-controlled frozen entrees - can be good value, convenient and a key source of nutrients from folate to potassium, said dietitians from ConAgra and General Mills in two separate myth-busting sessions.
However, many health professionals still see processed foods as the enemy, said Dr Susan Crockett, who leads the General Mills’ Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.
“It feels like a mark of sophistication to castigate packaged foods, but we shouldn’t perpetuate the idea that all packaged foods are bad.”
ConAgra Foods made a similar case at a ‘myth-busting’ breakfast session in which nutrition manager Dr Kristen Reimers presented an analysis of the nutritional content of four of her firm’s frozen entrees with a home-cooked equivalent.
This showed that sugar, fiber and protein levels were much the same, while saturated fat and sodium levels were lower in the ConAgra products.
Meanwhile, research consistently showed that frozen ready meals are a cost-effective tool for weight management, providing a more appealing and filling option at lunchtime than a bar or meal replacement shake - with fewer calories, sodium and fat than many snacks and sandwiches, she said.