What are plant-based “meat” burgers, and should you try them?
Here we go again with another food trend. Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have taken the world by storm for their ability to mimic an identical flavor, aroma and texture of animal meats, but be completely plant-based. Some may roll their eyes at the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger trend, but there is research that supports that plant-based meat alternatives are better for the environment.
While these fabricated meats may be good for the planet, are they good for you? It’s no secret that high consumption of animal meat, such as steak, bacon or beef burgers is not good for our bodies. So how are plant-based “meats” any different? More importantly, what are these “meats” made of?
Both Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger attempt to mimic real beef’s texture and flavor. One of the main ingredients to help achieve this is coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat and is commonly thought of as a healthy fat. However, it can have similar impacts on your body the same way too much butter and beef fat can. The American Heart Association issued an advisory against consuming excessive amounts of coconut oil, saying it is 82% saturated fat, which can raise LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
With this in mind, Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have comparable saturated fat levels to beef:
- Traditional beef burger: 7.6 grams
- Beyond Burger: 6 grams
- Impossible Burger: 8 grams
Another crucial ingredient in these plant-based burgers is protein. Beyond Burgers are made primarily from pea protein, whereas Impossible Burgers use a compound called “heme.”
Heme is deemed the “magic ingredient” in the Impossible Burger. It is the key to what gives these burgers a similar texture and taste we crave in a beef-based burger. Heme is a molecule that occurs naturally in plants and animals, and gives your blood its ability to carry oxygen.
When compared to beef-based burgers, Impossible Burgers have less protein (19 grams vs. 29 grams), yet contain more fiber. Additionally, Impossible Burgers are slightly higher in fat, higher in sodium and contain more carbohydrates (9 grams), while traditional beef burgers do not contain any carbs.
At the end of the day, plant-based burgers are not necessarily healthier for you compared to beef-based burgers — it mainly depends on your dietary needs. However, their environmental sustainability impact could be a good reason to choose plant-based meats.