Meatless burgers are new plant-based products made to help save the planet, promote vegetarian diets and to reduce consumption of animal protein. But can they really replace real meat and promote better health?
Manufacturers say meatless burgers offer protein, vitamins and minerals that can compete with beef and poultry gram. Some of their contents come from soy, peas and mung beans.
Some plant-based burgers also have additional vitamins and minerals that are missing in most vegetarian diets. For example, Impossible Burger said their product has vitamin B12 and zinc that are commonly provided by animal sources.
However, not all food made from plants are always and 100 percent safe. Meatless burgers may also negatively affect the body.
These burgers fall under the group of ultra-processed food. The product also contains high amounts of saturated fat, according to Harvard Medical School.
Meatless burgers are made to copy the taste of real meaty burgers to encourage more people to try them. It appears effective as many meat-lovers have also been trying the plant-based product because it tastes just like traditional burgers.
However, copying such taste requires high amounts of saturated fat. It can be bad for both vegetarians and meat lovers.
Previous studies showed that the diets that provide more saturated fat could increase the risk of a heart disease and premature death. Another problem with meatless burgers is the presence of sodium.
“Meatless burgers are good for the planet, but not always good for our health,” Emily Gelsomin, a senior clinical nutrition specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a blog post for Harvard Medical School.
But you don’t have to ditch meatless burgers immediately. There are ways to enjoy their health benefits while protecting your body from the potential negative effects, like cancer and heart problems.
You can try plant-based burgers that contain more beans, grains and seeds. Legume-based burgers can also be a good option because of the presence of seeds and whole grains.
“Producing the newer, plant-based burgers requires considerably less water and generates substantially less greenhouse gas emissions compared with traditional beef burgers,” Gelsomin added. “This is certainly an important consideration for the well-being of our planet, but they may not be the best option for the health of our bodies.”