Plant-based meats are gaining popularity, but are they really all that they’re hyped up to be?
Many people go to plant-based meats to help reduce their red meat consumption and improve their health.
Unfortunately, these plant-based products may do more harm than good.
If you go to the supermarket, or see commercials on TV, many places are promoting plant-based meats as a healthier option.
Some common plant-based meats(1) include:- Impossible Burger
- Beyond Meat
- Beyond Sausage
- Tyson’s Plant Based Nuggets
- Good Catch Fish-Free Plant-Based Tuna
Although plant-based products are claimed to be healthier, it’s important to look at what’s actually in them (2).
Furthermore, when it comes to an ingredient list, it’s best to keep it as simple as possible.
Below is an example of an ingredient list for a common plant-based burger (the Impossible Burger) (10):
Whereas, the ingredient list for an organic, grass-fed beef patty is one simple ingredient:
Focusing more on meats with one, minimally processed ingredient provides more nutrient value, while not providing any additional additives which may be harmful for health.
Lastly, plant-based burgers can contain more sodium and saturated fat than traditional beef.
For example, the Beyond Burger has 390 mg of sodium, whereas a 85% lean beef patty has only 80 mg. Saturated fat content for the Impossible Burger is 8 grams per 4 ounces, whereas an 85% lean beef patty has 6 grams of saturated fat (11).
Many people avoid red meat to reduce their saturated fat intake, but it’s important to look at the diet as a whole, versus just one piece of it.
Also, research has found that saturated fat is not the major issue; it’s a combination of excessive carbohydrate intake, sugar consumption, stress, quality of sleep and movement that play a role in developing cardiovascular disease (12,13).
Ultimately, it’s our lifestyle that either improves or health or reduces it, not just one nutrient or food.
So you might be wondering, what should you eat instead of plant-based meats? I always recommend going back to the basics and focusing on foods that are minimally processed.
Grass-fed beef is highly nutritious and made with just one simple ingredient.
Grass-fed beef also contains a higher amount of Omega-3 Fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce heart disease risk, reduce inflammation in the body, and may potentially reduce the risk for certain types of cancers (14,15,16).
Additionally, grass-fed beef contains higher levels of antioxidants from Vitamin A and E, which also helps promote health (17).
If you’re looking for other options besides red meat, opt for some of these options below:
- Organic chicken or turkey
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic eggs
- Organic dairy
- Beans and legumes
Plant-based meats are most likely not going anywhere anytime soon, so educating yourself on the ingredients they contain is key.
When it comes to our health, remember that keeping it simple is best.
Focus on foods with the least amount of ingredients, in their whole form, and not man-made.
1) TodayShow. (2019, August 8). Want to try out plant-based meat? Here are our top 10 product picks. Retrieved from https://www.today.com/food/what-plant-based-meat-here-are-our-top-10-product-t160303.
2) Gmo. (2019, November 1). Rat Feeding Study Suggests the Impossible Burger May Not Be Safe to Eat. Retrieved from https://www.gmoscience.org/rat-feeding-studies-suggest-the-impossible-burger-may-not-be-safe-to-eat/.
3) Divi, R. L., Chang, H. C., & Doerge, D. R. (1997, November 15). Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9464451.
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5) GMO Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/.
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8) Methylcellulose (Laxative) Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6391/methylcellulose-laxative-oral/details.
9) Farris, A. L. (2010). The "natural" aversion: the FDA's reluctance to define a leading food-industry marketing claim, and the pressing need for a workable rule. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24475548.
10) What are the ingredients? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://faq.impossiblefoods.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018937494-What-are-the-ingredients-.
11) Gelsomin, E., & Mla. (2019, August 8). Impossible and Beyond: How healthy are these meatless burgers? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/impossible-and-beyond-how-healthy-are-these-meatless-burgers-2019081517448.
12) Malhotra, A. (2013, October 22). Saturated fat is not the major issue. Retrieved from https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6340.full.
13) Malhotra, A., Redberg, R. F., & Meier, P. (2017, August 1). Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/15/1111.
14) Peter, S., Chopra, S., & Jacob, J. J. (2013, May). A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist away! - A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712371/.
15) Calder, P. C. (2006, June). n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16841861.
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