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How to Choose the Best Frozen Dinners

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4. Full-course meals

Frozen dinners that have a main course, side, and dessert can be high in sodium, “especially if they include preseasoned meat,” Rifkin says.

Choose one with less than 500 milligrams of sodium. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, look for items with even less salt so that you stay within the diet guidelines your doctor gave you.

Keep an eye out for meals labeled “low sodium” or that have a “reduced sodium” version, but still check the numbers on the label, so you know how much you're getting and how it fits into your overall diet.

Meals with lean protein like beans, fish, chicken, or turkey, with a hearty helping of veggies, are a good place to start.

Also check on how much saturated fat you're getting. "Stay within 3 to 4 grams by avoiding fried items and choosing entrees in vegetable-based, not cream, sauces," says Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, diabetes education coordinator at University of Maryland Medical Center.

5. Low-calorie entrees

These may sound good. Unfortunately, they’re so low in calories that they’re often lacking in fiber and healthy fats that can help manage cholesterol, Armul says.

“Dinners that contain salmon, nuts, or seeds all offer ‘good’ mono- and polyunsaturated fats,” Armul says. Bump up the fiber content by adding a side of green salad or steamed veggies that aren't starchy, which only tacks on another 100-200 calories.

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Reviewed on July 31, 2014

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