In a new study from the University of Minnesota, researchers found that plant-based meat alternatives are truly nutritious substitutes.
They found the imitation meats to be a good source of fiber, folate and iron while containing less saturated fat than ground beef. But the researchers said they also have less protein, zinc and vitamin B12—and lots of salt.
They suggest consumers read the Nutrition Facts label and choose a product that best matches their health and nutrition goals.
In the study, the team used a University of Minnesota food and nutrient database that includes 37 plant-based ground beef alternative products made by nine food companies.
The products analyzed are from Amy’s Kitchen, Inc.; Beyond Meat; Conagra, Inc.; Impossible Foods Inc.; Kellogg NA Co.; Kraft Foods, Inc.; Marlow Foods Ltd.; Tofurky; and Worthington.
The team says food companies should work to optimize the nutritional quality of their products, especially with respect to the amount of salt and other sodium-containing ingredients used in formulating veggie burgers and other plant-based ground beef alternative products.
The World Health Organization has classified processed meats (deli meats, bacon and sausage) as potentially cancer-causing, and red meat (veal, lamb, beef and pork) as probable cancer-causing substances, due to the processing, compounds in the meat and cooking methods.
Limiting the consumption of red and processed meats can strongly lower one’s intake of saturated fat. The sodium in some plant-based imitation meats may be moderate to high, but if most of the foods people eat are less processed ones, it should not be a problem.
Researchers say those whole foods are best, but there is plenty of wiggle room to include plant-based meat, dairy, poultry and egg alternatives.
On a daily basis, if people eat a balanced, more plant-rich diet, they should be able to meet their nutrient needs.
If you care about food and your health, please read studies about eating less dairy food may benefit people with metabolic syndrome and findings of this common food may increase risk of dangerous bowel diseases.
For more information about nutrition and your wellness, please see recent studies about these food may reduce your stroke risk and results showing that eating this food may help lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. One author of the study is Lisa Harnack.
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