July 8, 2019
If you had a regular burger on July 4—but feel a little guilty about not choosing one of the newly popular plant-based alternatives—no worries.
Although the marketers behind El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat and its competitor, Redwood California-based Impossible Foods, say that their products are better for us than meat, dietitians are not completely sold on the benefits, CNBC reports.
Scientific research has linked frequent consumption of red meat to heart disease and cancer. Beyond’s website claims that animal-based meats lead to a 16% increased risk of cancer and 21% increased risk of heart disease.
In theory, then, eating plant-based imitations of red meat is healthier. However, Alissa Rumsey, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness in New York City, told CNBC that—while she believes that we benefit from eating more plants — she isn’t sold on these plant-based options.
“They are not necessarily healthier than beef burgers,” Rumsey, a registered dietitian, said. “They’re totally fine to eat, but there’s no need to replace your beef burger if you don’t enjoy these.”
Rumsey pointed to the amounts of sodium and saturated fat in plant-based burgers, which are roughly the same as those in a traditional beef burger.
What’s more, because both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger are processed foods, registered dietitian Catherine Perez—who specializes in plant-based diets at The Charge Group in Media, Pennsylvania—told CNBC that she still puts them in the “indulgence category.”
The Impossible Burger uses heme from soy plants for a meaty taste and realistic juices, as well as soy protein concentrate. However, processed soy is controversial because it strips out some of the key nutrients found in traditional soy foods like tofu and can contain unhealthy compounds.
The Beyond Burger does not contain soy and instead uses pea protein isolate for its primary protein source.
All three dietitians said that consumers should try to incorporate more whole foods—rather than processed foods—into their meals.
Research contact: @CNBC