April 01, 2020

How do the new plant-based burgers on the market rate nutritionally?

Q: I recently sampled one of the newer plant-based burgers at my local grocery store. While it did taste more like meat than veggie burgers I've tried in the past, how do these products rate nutritionally?

A: Recent offerings of plant-based burgers — such as the Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger or Sweet Earth Awesome Burger — are designed to look and taste like meat and serve as an alternative source of protein. While these burgers may be a step in the right direction, they're still not necessarily the healthiest choices.

It's true that limiting red meat in your diet is important for heart health. Meat, especially red meat and processed meat, is associated with the increased risk of many health issues, including cancer, heart attack and stroke.

These newer burgers are created with the intention of having similar taste and texture as beef-based burgers, and they're nutritious in some key areas, including:

  • Ample protein, using sources such as soy, peas and mung beans
  • No cholesterol
  • A dose of dietary fiber
  • Essential dietary minerals, including iron and calcium

However, because of the processing required, there are downsides to these products, including:

  • Calories — The calorie content in a meat-mimicking burger can be similar to that of a red meat burger.
  • Fat — It's true that the total and saturated fat content in newer plant-based burgers is lower than it is for 80% lean ground beef. But when compared with 93% lean ground beef, the plant-based burgers can actually be significantly higher in both categories.
  • Sodium — Unseasoned red meat is fairly low in sodium. However, plant-based burgers may...