Often plant-based meat is marketed as healthy and better for you than meat and animal products. However, how genuine are these statements? In this article, we look at if plant-based meat is healthy and how it fits into a balanced diet.
Many of the benefits of plant-based meat are subjective as people choose to consume them for a variety of personal reasons. Some may opt to eat them as they are vegan, vegetarian, or for religious reasons. Other people, however, eat plant-based meat to reduce their consumption of meat. When it comes to health benefits, most plant-based meats are often lower in saturated fat and sodium, and higher in fiber.
One of the biggest downsides of plant-based meats is how much the nutritional value can vary between products and brands. Some, like Beyond Meat and Impossible, are highly processed and have just as high in saturated fat as meat is. Furthermore, both of these brands contain more sodium than a meat patty. The biggest downfall, however, is that plant-based meats often contain added sugar and refined oils.
The best plant-based options are those that are closest to their original, whole form. For example, jackfruit flesh and tofu both undergo less processing than products like Beyond Meat. Consider using beans, peas, and lentils in place of meat in recipes. These options are inexpensive and full of nutrients while having less sodium and a lower fat content.
Not all plant-based meats are healthy, as they contain large amounts of refined oils, saturated fats, and sodium. The best way to add plant-based meats to your diet is to choose the less processed options. Look for products that are whole soy, jackfruit, or legume-based where possible. Below is a quick look at popular options and their nutritional values.
100 grams of Seitan contains 25 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 447 mg of sodium.
A single burger patty contains 20 grams of protein, 14 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 390 mg of sodium.
A single burger patty contains 19 grams of protein, 14 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 370 mg of sodium.
100 grams of Jackfruit contains 1.3 grams of protein, 0 grams of total fat, and 20 mg of sodium.
100 grams of tofu contains 4.4 grams of protein, 2.2 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 16mg of sodium.
A single ultimate burger patty contains 20 grams of protein, 11 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, and 450mg of sodium
3 Seven Grain Chick’n Tenders contain 10 grams of protein, 7 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams, and 350mg of sodium.
Each Chick’n Patty contains 11 grams of protein, 8 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, and 320mg of sodium.
As more and more plant-based meats become available, the competition to make them healthier will also increase. For now, to choose healthy plant-based meats look for a shorter ingredients list and review the nutritional information. For highly-processed options like Beyond Meat, Gardein, and Impossible, limit consumption to once or twice a week.