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“Amidst the current cost of living crisis in the UK, an increasing number of Brits are relying on supermarket microwaveable ready meals to get by,” said Nutritionist Charlotte Fisher. While the small boxes may be a cheap and quick alternative, the nutritionist warned they may be taxing on your health if you have them too often.
Fisher said: “Microwave meals are an excellent option for a quick meal on the days when you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have the time.
“[However, they] are loaded with added sugars, sodium, and plenty of preservatives and unhealthy fats which can create serious health concerns if consumed regularly.”
The nutritionist warned that the worst aspect of ready meals is ingesting chemicals as this can increase your cancer risk.
She said: “To preserve microwave meals, supermarkets tend to use loads of preservatives and chemicals during the manufacturing process.
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“All of those can directly harm your health when consumed in high amounts – food preservatives are thought to be carcinogenic, and an increased consumption over extended periods of time may increase your risk of various cancers.”
Another reason why ready meals could boost your risk of cancer comes down to them often being heavily processed.
Research has even linked processed foods to a higher risk of the deadly condition.
According to a study, published in the British Medical Journal, the likes of ready meals, sugary cereals and fizzy drinks, could all increase your chances of cancer.
Containing various chemical additives, processed foods bear little resemblance to fresh home-cooked meals.
What’s worse, the more processed foods you have, the higher your risk of cancer will be.
The research found that those who ate the most processed food were 23 percent more likely to develop cancer of any type over the next five years.
Another tricky aspect of ready meals is their plastic packaging as Breastcancer.org warns that re-heating your meals in plastic could leach chemicals into your food.
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The charity warns that consuming foods like these could be putting you at a higher risk of cancer.
One harmful chemical, in particular, is called bisphenol A (BPA). Breastcancer.org states: “Research also strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of the chemicals in these products, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may cause cancer in people.”
Fortunately, some manufacturers have switched to a BPA-free plastic like PP.
Furthermore, Cancer Research UK states that using plastics doesn’t increase the risk of cancer.
They stress that even reheating food in plastics for hours at a time won’t pose a risk and the food is “safe to eat”.
In the UK, the Food Standard Agency is supposed to ensure that all plastics used for food and drink are safe.
However, that doesn’t make ready meals healthy as the nutritionist warned they can still increase your blood pressure and make you hold onto water.
Fisher added: “You need to ensure that you pick the right meals and don’t overload on sodium and saturated fats which are usually present in high concentrations.”
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