British Frozen Dinners Beat TV Chefs' Recipes for Nutrition

Scientific American

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Home-cooked meals are healthier than frozen ones, right? Actually, it depends on the chef who wrote your cookbook. A new study found that British TV chefs' recipes have more calories and less fiber than frozen meals. The work is in the British Medical Journal. [Simon Howard, Jean Adams and Martin White, Nutritional content of supermarket ready meals and recipes by television chefs in the United Kingdom: cross sectional study]

Researchers compared the nutritional information of 200 meals, all hot entrees for everyday consumption. Half were based on recipes in cookbooks written by British television chefs, and half were frozen meals manufactured by British supermarket chains.

The World Health Organization has issued nutritional guidelines designed to help consumers avoid diet-related diseases. And not one of the meals in the study complied with these standards. Still, the ready-to-eat meals were healthier than the cookbook recipes. A single serving of a frozen meal had significantly fewer calories, as well as less fat, than a serving of a cookbook recipe. Plus, the ready-made meals had more fiber.

Although the scope of this study is limited, it certainly suggests that TV chefs—in England at least—need to, bam!, kick the nutrition up a notch.

—Sophie Bushwick

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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