Are plant-based meat alternatives actually healthier options?

In the early days of alternative meats, there weren’t really great options. Most of them engaged in veggie burgers cobblestoned with fuzzy vegetables that hardly resembled the beloved burger we all know and love. Most of the time, they didn’t taste great either. Nowadays, food scientists are working on much better solutions, including Beyond Meat Burgers and Impossible Meat Burgers. But are these actually healthier for us? Beyond burgers among ground beef, these alternative meats usually include ingredients such as soy protein concentrate, sunflower oil, coconut oil, potato starch, pea protein, apple extract, cocoa butter, methylcellulose, soy leghemoglobin, and more. Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health helped answer whether or not these alternatives are actually healthy. Researchers took 37 plant-based alternatives to ground beef from nine different companies and compared them to ground beef in terms of nutritional value. According to Lisa Harnack, professor and lead author of the study: “It’s a mixed bag. Alternative products to ground beef tend to be a good source of nutrients such as folic acid, fiber, and iron. Most products were found to contain significantly less saturated fat than ground beef.” . The only problem is that it lacks protein, vitamin B12 and zinc. “Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products,” Harnack says. “Beef is a great source of vitamin B12 in the American diet.” The products were also higher in sodium than ground beef, a problem Americans already face. The plus side is that formulations of plant-based products can be updated and changed to include the missing nutrients. It can reduce sodium and supplement it with B12. Researchers recommend that you always check the nutritional labels of the products you buy and make sure they meet your personal health needs. Vegan meat alternatives are here to stay, and for those of us who want to limit our intake of animal products, they’re a great option. Some of them actually taste pretty darn good. We can only imagine that it will become better, more nutritious and less expensive. Impossible Burger

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