Lunchables! Lunchables! The Lunchables kids were a much more sought-after trading partner than those who had to brown-bag healthy foods like cashew butter and whole grain. Some parents might wonder if Lunchables are so bad, as not everyone has the energy or time to make a bento box with crudites and quinoa lettuce. Explore Lunchable Nutrition Facts here!
You should know a few things about Lunchables if you are someone who eats Lunchables every day. Serena Poon is a nutritionist and chef. She founded and ran Serena Loves.
Also Read: Baja Blast Nutrition Facts
Lunchable Nutrition Facts
Lunchables contain only the finest ingredients.
You will be surprised to see that almost all meals in Lunchables are processed foods. Poon is not a fan of processed food and warns that “processed foods, especially meats and refined grains, can lead to inflammation which can cause fatigue and depression, weight gain and other symptoms.”
A particular concern is the processed deli meats in many Lunchables. According to the World Health Organization, processed meats can be considered carcinogenic to people. This is based on epidemiological studies showing a direct link between colorectal cancer and consumption of these meats. The health hazards can be found in the Lunchables crackers as well as the meats. Refined carbs and oils and preservatives in them can cause conditions like arthritis (via Arthritis Health).
Aldo Read: Frozen Pizza Nutrition Facts
Healthy fats are high in Lunchables
Lunchables are loaded with fat, which makes them so delicious. Saturated fat makes up a portion of the Fats, which Poon states “is acceptable in moderation, but it’s best to avoid eating too much.” High levels of saturated fat can lead to high LDL (bad), which could increase your risk of stroke and heart attack. Trans fats are another type of fat that Lunchables might contain. While this nothing-but-bad-for-you additive is banned in larger amounts (via WHO), Lunchables sneak it in amounts below the FDA’s forbidden level of more than .5 grams. Although providing small amounts of trans fats in food is legal, Poon stresses that no amount is safe.
Even the plant-based oil in Lunchables doesn’t make it all that great. Although Poon says that palm oil is safe to consume when used in moderation, it still contains saturated fats similar to coconut oil. Even worse is the environmental impact of palm oil harvesting. According to the World Wildlife Fund, palm oil plantations can have devastating effects on the environment and the habitats of endangered species (and humans). Poon says palm oil should be avoided unless it is proven ethically sourced.
Also Read: Sea Urchin Nutrition Facts
You won’t be doing any favors by eating high amounts of sodium, sugar, or preservatives in Lunchables.
The sodium content of Lunchables is high. They typically contain almost 700mg of this nutrient. This, Poon says, is close to the daily recommended limit. Although the CDC recommends limiting your intake to 2,300 mg per day, it is not always possible. Poon explained to Mashed that hidden sodium is common in packaged foods.
He also said that it was important to keep track of your sodium intake if you consume these foods. Poon warns that eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, stroke risk, and increased heart attack and stroke risk. Many Lunchables contain some kind of sweet or dessert, which can cause weight gain and diabetes and heart disease.
All of the preservatives required to keep Lunchables shelf-stable are also important ingredients. Although they are found in the refrigerator section of the supermarkets, manufacturers are well aware that Lunchables may spend up to half of their day in unrefrigerated cloakrooms. Poon states that although all chemical food preservatives are generally safe, there have been studies linking them to ADHD (via PubMed), digestive problems (via PubMed), or cardiovascular disease (via PubMed).
Also Read: Longhorn Steakhouse Nutrition Facts
How to pack a healthy lunch
Yikes! Who knew that Lunchables could prove to be dangerous? Food that is too full of calories can make you sick. It’s best to stop eating that way. But how do you do it? Poon offers some tips on making your own healthy, protein- and calcium-rich snack pack at home.
Poon recommends replacing processed crackers with seeded crackers and substituting nuts for the more processed ones. Non-vegans can substitute for processed cheese with a chunk of nonprocessed cheese or a boiled egg. However, the latter option will need refrigeration. You could add some fiber and calcium by adding kale or broccoli to your meal. Poon would allow a small amount of dark chocolate for dessert. Poon says that this easy-to-pack meal will provide the macronutrients.
It’s easy to customize the box to your liking with healthy foods if you pay attention to the ingredients. You’ll only need a small, sectioned container to make healthy snacks.