Top Your Burger Right


Eating less meat can have a positive impact on health, but registered dietitian Molly Sleger is not quite convinced that plant-based mock meat can transform cardiovascular disease in our country. New companies are promoting their plant-based meats. Fast food restaurants are adding plant burgers to their menus. These plant-based meat companies are suggesting that even meat eaters will want to eat this new menu item. 

True plant-based diets are great for overall health. I recommend that plants should still look like the plant when it's on a plate. One could claim that potato chips and Nutella are plant-based, coming from potatoes and hazelnuts, respectively. Neither are lowering cholesterol lab levels.

While straight nutrition numbers show benefits to the plant-based burgers, it's nothing jaw-dropping. What's more jaw-dropping is that the plant burgers have five times as much sodium as a hamburger.

Tips for the remaining grilling months and eating hamburgers:

  • Top burgers with grilled onions, romaine lettuce, garden tomatoes, avocado.
  • Grill corn, zucchini spears, asparagus, bell peppers for sides.
  • Try other ground meats such as turkey or chicken.
  • If you have extra grocery money, try grass-fed beef, which can contain slightly less fat and more omega-3s.
  • Handle red meat safely to avoid food illness.
  • Aim to limit red meat to no more than twice/week.

A few extra tips:

Try homemade plant-based burgers if you are wanting to reduce meat consumption. These often are bean-based and include other plants such as flax seed, sweet potato, onion, or butternut squash. Aim to eat fish twice/week. This inadvertently reduces red meat consumption and has true cardiovascular benefit. Cook more meals at home. This may result in less fast food intake which is often burger focused.