2011-2012 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: The manufacture of meal replacements has been a growing industry over the last few decades. The companies producing frozen meals have responded to consumer demand and increased the nutritional content of their meals. However, many consumers are confused over the nutritional quality of these products and are concerned with whether or not they meet the Dietary Guidelines.
Methods: Data was collected from three major frozen meal companies: Kashi, Healthy Choice, and Lean Cuisine. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals were evaluated for their nutritional content and quality. These meals were then compared to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate and compare the nutritional values.
Results: The calories provided in the Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, and Kashi meals were 1390, 1420, and 1220, respectively. There was a significant association found between all the macro nutrient values and those of the Dietary Guidelines, including protein, carbohydrate, fat, and saturated fat (r=0.88, 0.84, 0.97, 0.96). The nutritional analysis found that there is a significant association between the calories provided in the three meal plans and the Dietary Guidelines (p=0.005, r=0.89).
Conclusion:The results of the nutritional analysis suggest that the meal replacements meet the nutrient intake of the Dietary Guidelines. The major nutrient content of the Kashi, Healthy Choice, and Lean Cuisine meals are similar to the suggested intake of the Dietary Guidelines. This information can be helpful for consumers looking for inexpensive, quick, and nutritious meals.