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Is it healthy to consume read-to-eat foods?

Although life has become more sophisticated with the advent of modern equipment, people these days seem to lead a busy, hectic life. They have less time to dedicate to themselves or pursue a healthy life. Many do not even have time to prepare food daily. Rather, they may cook just once or twice a week and keep it in the refrigerator to be taken later and consumed. Others resort to buying ready to cook food available easily in the market. You do have plenty of brands and categories to choose from. You just need to some search, go through the different categories and found to what suits your specific requirements better. But then, the question that many tend to ask is, will it be healthy to consume such store foods! 

Ready to eat food – What is it?

Bachelors and busy people are known to favour having such type of food as it allows them to enjoy those dishes, they do not have time or simple lack preparation knowledge. They all seek food that is nutritious, filling, tasty, convenient and easy to consume as well as affordable. Several brands have managed launch a variety of ready to eat foods such as ham and baked beans. Being wholesome, they are delicious and also can be consumed along with bread or eating right from the package. They are also promoted as healthy food. Such food items are said to fulfil perfectly all four criteria that makes a holistic meal plan. Although RTE foods are advertised as nutritious, the truth is they might not be as healthy for heath like manufacturers claim them to be. 

Is it healthy to have ready to cook food?

  • Unhealthy fats: Added colours, flavours and excess sugar alter significantly fat content present in ready to consume food. A large amount of such food items are found to be extremely unsafe and unhealthy to consume as they contain saturated fats in high amounts. It also enhances risks of heart associated conditions and obesity. 
  • Processed: The truth is majority of the ready to consume food items are healthy as imagined to be. These are rather processed foods. By processing the food item, essential nutrients are eliminated. Eating such food items will only make you to consume empty calories that are not likely to provide any health benefits. However, it is not likely to keep you satisfied for a long time. Fortunately, there are also present several organic and healthy options for everyone to avail without having to spend a fortune. 
  • Loaded with sugar: Sugar is considered to be an addictive ingredient as it activates the reward system of the brain, thereby making the body to crave for more of it. There are ready to consume foods such as sandwich spreads and doughnuts that are filled with sugar. It makes this item delicious and also tricks the brain to seek more. Intake of excess sugar comes with harmful effects, a fact known to almost everyone. Sugar does not contain any nutritional value, but has high calories, thereby causing weight gain. Also are caused health hazards such as diabetes. 
  • Added agents: These are mass produced foods and prepared with the intent to enhance shelf life. An easy way to enhance the food product’s shelf life will be to add preservatives. But artificial varieties might cause several harmful effects such as heart problems and cancer. Besides this, such foods also may contain unhealthy agents such as flavours and artificial colours that cause similar health conditions. 
  • Loaded with salt: Ready to consume foods contains salt in good amounts. When transported, such food items tend to lose its original flavour. Using cheap condiments can help restore its flavour. But having excess salt will only cause kidney stones, high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoporosis. Majority of the RTE foods tend to have higher amount of salt in them than recommended daily amount. 

Can you derive healthy benefits by consuming ready to eat food items?

There are available a few ready to consume foods that are healthy to be consumed by all ages, but in moderation. Foods such as cheese and cold cuts, although use unhealthy and harmful ingredients, could prove to be beneficial due to their nutritional content. Protein is present in good amounts in sausages and salami and hence a must have for body builders. Even cheese is considered to be healthy since it has essential nutrients and protein in high amounts. 

How to manage healthy ready to eat food products?

There is a genuine need to handle effectively ready to consume food, so as to safeguard it form harmful allergens and bacteria. Such food items generally do not require reheating or cooking before serving. This means, it can be consumed directly from the package without any inconvenience. It includes items like cooked meats, salads, sandwiches, desserts, smoked fish, cheese including those food items that are cooked before and can be served cold. 

Safety point to consider

When preparing as well as handling food, you need to do the following:

  • Keep separate the ready to consume food items from poultry, raw meat, unwashed vegetables, eggs and fish. 
  • Do keep clean and disinfect work surfaces knives and chopping boards if preparing raw foods. 
  • Always use alternate utensils and chopping boards to prepare ready to consume food items. 
  • Ensure they are covered all the time during storage and preparation. It is to protect the food item from harmful allergens and bacteria. 

Why follow manufacturer’s instructions?

Instructions are generally designed for all consumers to follow it as it ensures safe consumption of packed food. If preparing salad, vegetable or fruit ingredients do the following:

  • Take a bowl filled with clean water, dip the ingredients completely and wash them thoroughly.
  • Before that, remove, trim or peel external parts as found appropriate. 
  • Always wash those ingredients first that the cleanest first 
  • Before as well as after handling the ingredients, remember to wash your hands. 

Therefore, following the above steps will ensure you make the most from your ready to consume foods and make it as healthy as possible for consumption.