What you need to know about plant-based burgers
Plant-based burgers are gaining popularity faster than you can say “order up!”
But are these new patties well done, or is it rare to find a healthy option?
You need to remember to read the label and focus on patties that are real food, not processed.
“Fake meats, textured vegetable proteins and processed soy products are usually the main ingredient and protein source found in veggie burgers,” says Anna Jurmann, a clinical dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.
What’s the beef with these ingredients?
The highly processed foods can contain harmful by-products from the creation process, including aluminium. What’s more, textured vegetable protein is often flavored with monosodium glutamate (MSG), which research has linked to headaches, heart palpitations and other symptoms.
Jurmann says veggie burgers also typically contain inflammatory vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, cotton seed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil or margarine, which should be avoided.
“When choosing a veggie burger, look for ingredients like sprouted or fermented grains, legumes or nuts,” she says.
Jurmann recommends eating “real food.”
“That means avoiding those fake meats, textured vegetable proteins and processed soy products. Fermented soy products such as miso, natto and tempeh are preferred options, as they render soy more digestible and contain lower levels of goitrogens (compounds that inhibit the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine correctly, which can lead to hypothyroid problems)” she says.
Jurmann says that even if you’re on a plant-based diet, you still have to pay close attention to what you eat.
“In fact,” she says, “it’s actually very easy to eat poorly on a plant-based (a.k.a. vegetarian or vegan diet) as it is on an omnivore diet. It’s harder to create nutrient deficiencies when eating meat, fish and eggs compared to only plants.”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.