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Heart Health

Plant-based meat alternatives: How do they stack up?

September 1, 2021

Meatless burgers may be better for your heart than regular hamburgers, especially if you pair them with sides and drinks that are healthier than typical fast-food fare.

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The original veggie burgers, made from a mix of grains, beans, nuts, and vegetables, date back to the 1970s, when vegetarian diets were still on the fringe. Today, popular fast-food outlets sell meatless burgers that mimic real beef much more closely than those early versions. And plant-based diets (which aren’t necessarily vegetarian but lean that way) are now practically mainstream.

The ample evidence linking red meat to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer has encouraged many people to steer away from meat and other animal-based foods. However, two of the newer meatless burgers, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, are heavily processed and contain about the same amount of saturated fat as traditional burgers, along with more sodium (see "Burger battles: A nutrient comparison"). So are they actually better for you than beef?

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