How Healthy Are Lean Cuisine Frozen Dinners?

Lean Cuisine
Lean Cuisine.

If you are looking for healthy, convenient diet menu options you may be asking yourself, "How healthy are Lean Cuisine frozen dinner entrees?" If so, you are not the only one. These frozen meals promise to be low in fat, low in carbs, and they easily fit in with a variety of weight loss programs. However, nutritionists agree these dinners fall far short of their claims. Here's a look at just how healthy are Lean Cuisine frozen dinner entrees.

Health Benefits of Lean Cuisine

Lean Cuisine makes frozen entrees that can help with calorie control and portion control. Certainly, these two elements are essential for a weight loss diet. Without portion and caloric control, there is a good chance you will be unable to lose weight. With Lean Cuisine, there is no need to count calories or weigh your foods in order to get a perfect portion size.

Another benefit of Lean Cuisine is convenience. Pull a Lean Cuisine out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave for a few minutes, and you have a hot meal. Another bonus--the company offers a wide variety of meals that cater to a number of different personal tastes.

Drawbacks of Lean Cuisine

While Lean Cuisine is convenient and easy, there are drawbacks to the food as well. Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Lean Cuisine isn't always the best tasting meal on the planet. But you probably knew that. While frozen meals have come a long way from the TV dinners of old, they still tend to taste like a frozen meal.
  • They tend to be rather high in sodium. One of the ways that frozen meal manufacturers remedy the flavor inadequacies of the food is by pumping up the sodium.
  • They rely heavily on processed grains like white rice and white flour. As a result, they tend to be low in fiber.
  • If you eat strictly Lean Cuisine, you will be missing out on the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, which have phytochemicals and vitamin profiles not found in frozen meals.
  • Relying strictly on Lean Cuisine is likely to leave you both hungry and lacking in certain areas of nutrition. The small portion sizes and reliance on processed starches mean that in order for the meal's calories to come in between 200 and 400 calories, the portions are ridiculously small. This same reliance implies a certain lack of nutrition.

Danger of Lean Cuisines

In 2008 the USDA recalled several thousand Lean Cuisine meals because they were found to contain foreign objects that could pose a deadly choking risk. The recall applied to their chicken and pasta meals. At least one consumer was injured from a small piece of plastic found in one of the meals. However, this was a one time event and this time of issue does not need to be a concern.

Are Lean Cuisines Healthy For You?

Are Lean Cuisines healthy? As a convenience food, it is healthier than much of what you can get in fast foods; however, the entrees leave a lot to be desired in the health food department. Because most of Lean Cuisine meals don't contain preservatives, they are slightly more healthy than some frozen foods.

If it is optimum health you seek, you may be better off limiting your intake of this convenience food. Eating Lean Cuisine occasionally when you are in a time pinch probably won't hurt you, but eating it all the time isn't going to have you glowing with the vigor of good health.

Recommendations

If you do choose to eat Lean Cuisine, you may want to take some measures to pump up its health quotient. Here are some recommendations:

  • Limit Lean Cuisine meals to one or two meals per week.
  • Include some low-fat dairy with your meal, such as low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese or a glass of skim milk.
  • Eat a piece of fresh fruit or some raw veggies with your meal - both to help increase satiation and to pump up the nutrients.
  • Try to limit your sodium intake for the rest of the day after eating Lean Cuisine.
  • If you do eat Lean Cuisine regularly, consider taking supplements that will give you adequate fiber and adequate vitamins and minerals.
  • Supplement with fish oil in order to ensure a healthy balance of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids.

Alternative Options

There are healthier frozen meals, some even made with organic ingredients, that are better choices than Lean Cuisines. However, frozen meals by definition are not your best options. If you purchase frozen dinners for the convenience factor, consider these quick and easy alternatives instead:

  • Sandwiches: Purchase some bread, meat, cheese and veggies and you can have yourself a fresh, balanced and healthy lunch in a matter of minutes.
  • Soups: Soups are hearty and contain a lot of liquid, which will make you feel full. Most also contain a good amount of vegetables.
  • Leftovers: They're healthier than processed frozen foods and all you have to do is put some leftovers on a plate and zap them in the microwave.

The Bottom Line

While they aren't the worst thing in the world in terms of health, you may want to avoid making these frozen entrees the cornerstone of your weight loss diet. Instead, eat a wide variety of foods from all food groups and use Lean Cuisine occasionally when you need the convenience. In this way, Lean Cuisine can be part of a healthy weight loss diet.

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How Healthy Are Lean Cuisine Frozen Dinners?