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PRODUCTS: Packaged Diet Meals

Continuing with New Year’s diet resolutions:

More than a few people we know turn to packaged diet entrées for weight loss or maintenance. The portion-controlled single servings help eliminate the risk of overeating.

But Consumer Reports found that some give you so little to eat, that you need to add more food. Others are very high in sodium.

Consumer Reports looked at 24 leading microwaveable meals—22 frozen and two shelf-stable—including Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers. Consumer Reports evaluated the nutrition info for each meal based on its label.

Here are some topline findings:

kashi

Delicious, low calorie and low in sodium.
Photo courtesy Kashi Company.

  • Fourteen of the meals were tasty enough to recommend (that is, they rated very good in taste).
  • Eight meals had more than the 600 milligrams of sodium that Consumer Reports set as a maximum, based on generally recommended guidelines. Healthy Choice Complete Meals Sweet & Sour Chicken, Lean Cuisine Cafe Classics Steak Tips Portabello, and Kashi Black Bean Mango had the least sodium of the tested meals, each with an impressive 450 milligrams or less.
  • While no clear winner emerged among brands, Kashi was the only brand to earn a very good rating for all of the meals included in the test. They’re a little pricier than some of the others, but deliver the quality.

You can find the whole report in the February 2010 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine.

 




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