Plant-based “impossible burgers”: The healthier option?

juicy hamburger

It seems you see commercials for them all over TV, fast food restaurants rolling out “impossible burgers,” plant-based burgers that pass the taste test for those looking for “the real thing.”

With this product, there’s the implication that because the patty is plant-based (mostly soy beans) that it’s the healthier option.

But while the taste may satisfy, McLaren Macomb registered dietitians urge burger seekers to check the nutrition facts for themselves to make sure they’re well aware of what they’re putting in their body.

“For people on plant-based or vegetarian diets, so-called ‘impossible burgers’ can satisfy their want for a burger,” said Allison Taormina, lead dietitian at McLaren Macomb, “and can also be a positive way to reduce emissions in the environment. But other than soy beans, people should know what’s inside these burgers, especially when you consider their perception of being the healthy options.”

When compared to traditional beef burger patties, popular plant-based burgers have a much longer list of ingredients. While they have comparable amounts of protein to traditional burgers, the protein content is coming from processed, plant-based soy protein concentrate and isolates that are not whole foods. Another thing to be cautious of is the amount of saturated fat (8 grams as opposed to 6 grams in an 85/15 beef burger) and much higher sodium content than the traditional beef burger at 370 mg per serving.

However, impossible burgers are much higher in nutrients, specifically vitamin B12, iron and fiber, among others.

“A lot of people treat hamburgers as a ‘splurge’ food, only having one every so often as sort of a treat,” Taormina said. “Treating impossible burgers the same way is perfectly fine. The most important thing is to know what’s in your food, so you can make choices based on what your taste preferences are, and not because something is perceived as healthy.”

Learn more about how McLaren Macomb registered dietitians can help your overall health by calling (586) 493-8500.