They might be better for the planet, but are plant-based burgers good for you?

If you're looking for a vegetarian burger instead of a beef-based burger, you're in luck these days. Two popular options include the...

Posted: Aug 9, 2019 2:44 PM

If you're looking for a vegetarian burger instead of a beef-based burger, you're in luck these days. Two popular options include the Impossible Burger, in over 5,000 restaurants in the United States, Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore, and the Beyond Burger, available at more than 35,000 locations, including the meat aisles in supermarkets.

These burgers are the makings of food chemistry at its finest, and include ingredients that attempt to mimic the flavor, aroma and even the "bleeding" color of meat. (One of the Impossible Burger's ingredients is a genetically modified version of heme, an iron-containing molecule from soy plants, like the heme from animals -- which is what gives it its uniquely meaty flavor, according to the company's website).

But though these plant-based burgers are certainly a healthy option for the environment, you might be wondering: are they any better for your body than regular beef burgers?

An analysis of 'alternative meat' nutrition

As a nutritionist, I would say this: If you enjoy the taste of these faux meat burgers, and part of your food philosophy includes vegetarianism or eating to sustain the environment, then by all means, you should feel free to enjoy an Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger.

But if you are choosing to eat these burgers solely for their health value, you may want to reconsider.

For example, the Impossible Burger has 240 calories, and 8 grams of saturated fat, thanks to coconut oil. By comparison, an 80% lean beef burger has 280 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat. That's not a whole lot of difference. (The plant burgers are cholesterol free, however).

The Beyond Burger has less saturated fat than the beef or Impossible Burger (6 grams), but a similar calorie count, with 250 calories per patty. But a turkey burger has only 4 to 5 grams of saturated fat, and 220 to 240 calories, depending on the brand. And a grain-based veggie burger that's not attempting to mimic meat has only 150 to 160 calories, and only about 1 gram of saturated fat, and is therefore healthiest overall from a fat standpoint. What's more, depending on the brand, these burgers are made with real veggies, like onions, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, green and red bell peppers, quinoa and brown rice.

The protein content of the burgers is similar as well; the Impossible Burger has 19 grams of protein from soy and the Beyond Burger has 20 grams, from peas. The beef and turkey burgers each have about 19 to 21 grams of protein, depending on the brand. But the grain-based veggie burgers are lowest, with only 9 grams of protein.

The faux meat burgers also rank higher in sodium than the beef and turkey burgers, with the Impossible Burger containing 370 milligrams of sodium, and the Beyond Burger containing 390 milligrams. The beef patty contains only 65 to 75 milligrams of sodium, depending on the brand, and the turkey burger has 95 to 115 milligrams. The grain patties have over 400 milligrams, however, thanks to salt as an ingredient. At least one does have double the fiber -- 6 grams -- compared to the faux meat burgers, though.

Personally, if I want a plant-based burger, I want a really delicious veggie patty -- not one with fake "blood," but one that is comprised of real vegetables and tastes totally different from a burger made from meat. Like LT Burger's veggie burger, which has beets, brown rice, red pepper, quinoa, black beans and jalapeño, and topped with wheatgrass, tomato, onion, avocado and sprouts.

So I would say if you're going to savor these meat-mimicking burgers, then it's a win-win, because you're contributing to the well-being of the planet while enjoying what you eat. But if you're eating these burgers simply in the name of saving calories, or sodium, or saturated fat, you might want to rethink your decision.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 417589

Reported Deaths: 32725
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City22628023556
Suffolk434681997
Nassau434362194
Westchester360491446
Rockland13893674
Orange11105489
Erie8667669
Monroe4821277
Dutchess4557153
Onondaga3515200
Albany2543126
Oneida2103112
Ulster203991
Sullivan148448
Niagara145898
Putnam143763
Broome107864
Schenectady104137
Rensselaer74830
Saratoga73917
Columbia52937
Madison40517
Ontario35234
Warren30233
Orleans29554
Steuben29442
Greene28918
Fulton28524
Genesee2735
Herkimer2624
St. Lawrence2624
Washington25514
Oswego2493
Wayne2483
Chautauqua2419
Tompkins2300
Chenango2126
Tioga19125
Livingston1708
Cattaraugus1646
Chemung1633
Montgomery1604
Cayuga1502
Jefferson1390
Clinton1274
Otsego1155
Wyoming1135
Delaware1044
Cortland930
Seneca863
Allegany751
Schoharie680
Yates567
Essex550
Franklin500
Lewis370
Schuyler220
Hamilton70
Unassigned00
Utica
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
Oneonta
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 54°
Herkimer
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
Thendara
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Ask EPLC Sweepstakes
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left