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Beware! The Truth About Frozen Foods; Their Impact On Health

We all enjoy convenience, so once in a while buying a pack of frozen meal in your shopping cart is reasonable. However, it should not become a habit , as it adversely affects our health. Frozen or packaged food is like a pause button which slows down any enzymatic reaction and increases the shelf life. We tend to consume frozen foods because of the demanding work-life culture where adults are too exhausted by the end of the day to cook fresh food. According to Dr Monisha, a Delhi-based Nutritionist, the process of freezing food is not the real devil its the way its touted to be healthy, fresh, authentic, organic, etc. The ingredients that are used in frozen foods are not the same as those in freshly cooked meals. She goes on to say, “frozen foods have side effects as they contain hydrogenated palm oil that has harmful trans-fat. Preservatives like starch, corn syrup which is made up of glucose are added to these foods and are noted as carcinogenic substances. Also the sodium content is much higher in these ready to eat meals. It adds to the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases like high BP, diabetes, cholesterol etc. at a very young age”.
Here’s why you should avoid packaged foods:
1. Diabetes: In order to keep the frozen foods fresh starch is used. This starch adds taste and texture to the food. However, starch is basically a polymer (a glucose chain) of glucose. Your body converts this glucose to sugar before it is digested. The excess sugar can increase your risk of diabetes while also causing damage to your body tissues. If it runs in the family, you should try avoiding having frozen foods.
2. Heart Diseases: Another health risk that is associated with frozen or processed food is heart disease. The trans fats that are present in packaged foods increase your risk of contracting heart disease and also contribute to clogged arteries. Trans fats increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and also lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which is responsible for elevating the risk of heart disease. Sodium is widely used as a preservative. The added salt in frozen food increases your cholesterol levels as well, while also increasing your blood pressure.
3. Excessive calories: Frozen foods are very high in fat. Fat contains twice the number of calories compared to carbohydrates or protein; this often makes it high in calories. For instance, 1-cup serving of frozen chicken pot pie may contain nearly 600 calories, more than half of which come from fat. Although, frozen foods are marketed to be healthy and nutritious but the fact is they harmful for your body.
4. Cancer: Consuming too much of frozen food can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Research shows that eating frozen foods, meat, in particular, can lead to pancreatic cancer. Studies state that frozen hot dogs, salamis and sausages can increase the risk of contracting cancer by more than 65%. Preservatives like corn syrup, which is made up of glucose which is found on cooked packaged meals exhibits carcinogenic tendencies.
In conclusion, Dr Monisha says, ” There is no one who doesn’t enjoy convenience, so once in a while tossing a pack of frozen meal in your shopping cart (with proper scanning of nutritional label) is reasonable however when convenience becomes a habit, it comes with a huge cost leading to a compromise on your health.”
(Dr Monisha Ashokan is a Delhi based Nutritionist)