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Are New Plant-Based Beef Products Better for Your Heart?

We’ve all heard about the new and exciting revolution in meat alternative products. With the advent of the latest generation of these foods, no longer do you have to sacrifice taste when you’re avoiding beef. It is uncanny how plant-based proteins have been made to look and taste just like beef. With its explosion in popularity, plant-based alternatives such as Beyond Meat and Impossible have reached serious heights – over 50,000 restaurants, grocery stores and retailers.

There is an argument to be made that these beef products are better for the environment. Cow flatulence is, after all, a leading greenhouse gas emitter. And while there is no doubt that these products are great for vegetarians, vegans and those who want to eat less meat, do they make a difference in your heart health?

If you look at the nutritional information of plant-based beef alternatives, you’ll see that they still contain a good number of calories – the same as beef. Overall fat content is similar as well. To its credit, however, the typical meat alternative contains fiber, unlike meat, and has less saturated fat.

Plant-based meat alternatives, ultimately, are processed foods. Regardless of what they are made of, they must be manipulated with other ingredients to get the consistency and taste people have come to expect. As a result, it’s safe to say that while these products have their benefits, they are not so drastically different for your health that they should become a staple in your diet. Nor should they be considered healthy enough to eat frequently.

Also, bear in mind that many of the foods and sides you eat alongside the patty add lots of calories to our diets. For example, the bun, french or sweet potato fries, onion rings and sauces such as ketchup, blue cheese or ranch can all add hundreds of calories and considerable fat to the burger.

So, what’s the answer?

In the end, we come back to the usual discussion about moderation. Outwardly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a plant-based beef alternative. It helps those who want to eat less beef get the taste without the guilt.

If a beef burger or plant alternative is in the cards, we suggest cutting it in half before you even start and either sharing it with someone or boxing it to bring home for another meal. That cuts half the calories right of the bat. Stay clear of the french fries or onion rings, minimize the sauces, and opt for lots of tomato, lettuce and onion for your heart health.

In the meantime, don’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy – on the healthiness scale, a burger is not the worst you can do. Instead, eat it in the right way and in the right portion sizes and you’ll be just fine.

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