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5 Pre-Packaged Meats To Stay Away From Right Now

A dinner shortcut that could do more harm than good.

As convenient as walking into your favorite supermarket and picking up ready-to-go dishes, some of these items may come at a high cost to your health. Between high sodium levels and saturated fats, the nutritional value of many pre-packaged products are worth keeping a cautious eye on.

Our nutrition experts have weighed in on several products that stood out for all the wrong reasons. While popular, these grocery items contain a number of nutritional concerns that most may not immediately notice.

Check out our list of several pre-packaged types of meat you should consider avoiding.

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Jack Daniel's Seasoned and Fully Cooked Pulled Pork

jack daniel's pulled pork
PER SERVING (5 OZ): 370 calories, 20 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 75 mg cholesterol, 750 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 19 g protein

Just one serving of Jack Daniels Pulled Pork will set you back 370 calories. Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, says that while the 5-ounce serving contains plenty of protein, it also has "35% the daily recommended amount of artery-clogging saturated fat and 31% the daily recommended amount of sodium."

Amidor adds that this doesn't include other items paired with the pulled pork, like bread. Even the flavoring can be a cause for concern as it contains 25 grams of sugar per serving, which Amidor says is equivalent to 5 teaspoons.

Cooked Perfect Homestyle Meatballs

cooked perfect homestyle meatballs
PER 6 MEATBALLS: 200 calories, 13 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 60 mg cholesterol, 580 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 14 g protein

While meatballs can be convenient comfort food, these frozen ones from Cooked Perfect are far from healthy. An 85-gram serving of 6 meatballs contains 200 calories and 580 milligrams of sodium.

NutritionistLisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, says that these meatballs are not only "ultra-processed," but they are high in fat and in sodium. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a sodium-heavy diet could have a number of health downsides that can lead to "complications like increased thirst, higher blood pressure, bloating, and poor sleep quality."

Del Real Foods Carne Deshebrada Seared and Seasoned Shredded Beef

del real foods carne deshebrada shredded beef
PER 1/2 CUP (3 OZ): 220 calories, 17 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 45 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 14 g protein

At first, Del Real Foods' Carne Deshebrada Seasoned Shredded Beef may seem like a good option due to the reasonable levels of sodium and calories, but our nutritionists were alarmed by the saturated fat content.

Dr. Young noted that this kind of shredded beef is "high in fat and saturated fat." At the same time, Amidor elaborated further, noticing that "the saturated fat is just too high at 30% your daily recommended amount per serving."

Instead, Amidor suggested making your own shredded beef using a "lean cut of beef which would give you less saturated fat."

Good & Gather Home-Style Beef Meatloaf

good & gather all natural homestyle beef meatloaf
PER SERVING (5 OZ): 310 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 50 mg cholesterol, 1,150 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 17 g protein

Our nutritionists agree that Target's exclusive in-house brand of meatloaf is way too high in sodium. According to Dr. Young, "This contains 50 percent of the DV for sodium. Yikes!"

Amidor shared the concern, stating, "This bad boy not only has 25% of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat, but it also provides a whopping 50% of your daily recommended amount of sodium per serving which is over 1/2 teaspoon of salt!"

Trader Joe's Grass Fed Angus Burger

Grass fed burger
PER 1 PATTY: 290 calories, 23 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 80 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 19 g protein

This patty from TJ's was one of our picks for the 8 Worst Frozen Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now. Timothy Wood, CCC, FNS agreed, stating that while the quality of the meat seems good based on the grass-fed label, the true concern lies in other elements, such as the amount of high fat, cholesterol, and calories.

Instead, Wood suggested opting for "a brand that ensures the cow was fed with 100% organic cow feed."

Alex Perry
Alex Perry is a writer with Eat This, Not That! She graduated with a master's degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University, where she experienced all the amazing things Chicago has to offer. Read more about Alex