Hamburgers are MORE Heart-Healthy than Impossible and Beyond Meat Burgers

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To naturally lower cholesterol, the most important food choice you can make is to reduce saturated fat and trans fat. That’s straight from the American Heart Association’s article, Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol. That article goes on to say that, “Reducing these fats means limiting your intake of red meat and dairy products made with whole milk.”

So what is a burger-loving person with high cholesterol to do?  Many people are giving the new plant-based “burgers” a try. And for good reason: In concept the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat’s ‘Beyond Burger’ seem like a good idea as they are made from plants and have no animal fat.

But actually, both are WORSE than beef burgers for anyone looking to lower cholesterol!

Much worse, actually, because these plant-based burgers have similar (or more!) saturated fat than beef hamburgers, AND far more sodium. The Beyond Burger and a beef burger each have 6 grams of saturated fat, and the Impossible Burger has 8 grams of saturated fat.

How is this possible, you ask?  How could plant-based burgers have the same or more saturated fat than beef burgers?

The simple answer is that these highly processed foods use coconut oil (which is not a heart-healthy oil as it’s high in saturated fat) to help deliver beef-like taste. And then they pump in huge amounts of sodium to create flavor.

As you can see in the chart I created below, one 4 ounce (85% lean) beef burger patty has 72 mg of sodium compared with 370 mg for the Impossible Burger and 390 mg for the Beyond Meat burger.  Just those plant-based patties alone—with no buns or toppings—pack more than 15% of recommended dietary sodium of 2,300 mg/day. (And you know bread and ketchup are both high in sodium, right?)

So, these plant-based burgers have the SAME or MORE saturated fat than a beef hamburger and TONS MORE sodium. Not good. That said, there is one nutritional area the plant-based burgers win over beef burgers: dietary cholesterol. A beef hamburger delivers roughly 30% of the recommended 300 mg/day of dietary cholesterol (from the animal fat) whereas the plant-based burgers have no dietary cholesterol. Nutrition-wise, that’s a ‘win’ for the plant-based burgers—but it’s a very small win because dietary cholesterol is not as important in lowering a person’s cholesterol as saturated fat.

 

For those looking to make heart-healthy choices, the new plant-based burgers should not be a go-to food. Just because the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat burgers are plant-based does not make them heart-healthier. In fact, they are laden with saturated fat, which anyone looking to lower cholesterol naturally with a heart-healthy diet should avoid.

Articles about whether these plant-based burgers are healthy abound; If you want to read more here are a few I found useful:

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