Will you be grilling up veggie burgers this 4th of July? They’ve come a long way! The marketing for the newest crop of plant-based burgers, such as Impossible Burgers, boasts meaty flavor and the look, texture, and even “bleed” of a real beef burger. You can even order them at restaurants like Burger King, White Castle, and Applebee’s. But are these “fake meat” burgers healthier than their beef counterparts?

What is in an Impossible Burger?

The main ingredients in an Impossible Burger are soy protein, coconut oil, and sunflower oil. They also contain binding ingredients, flavors, preservatives, and vitamins and minerals. One important ingredient is called soy leghemoglobin, which is a plant protein similar to heme iron in meat, which helps give these veggie burgers their “meaty” flavor.

How does it compare with a beef burger?

Impossible Burgers (and the competitor Beyond Meat burgers) were made to resemble 80% lean ground beef burgers. As a result, Impossible Burgers are nutritionally closer to a cheeseburger than to a black bean burger. They contain about the same amount of calories as a beef burger, but more saturated fat and much more sodium than a plain beef burger. There is less protein in an Impossible Burger but more fiber. Since they don’t contain any animal products, they also contain no cholesterol. Interestingly, Impossible Burgers also contain carbohydrates, while a plain beef burger contains none.

Impossible Burger (4 oz) Beef Burger (4 oz)
Calories 240 260
Total Fat 14 g 16 g
Saturated Fat 8 g 6 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 94 mg
Sodium 370 mg 89 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9 g 0 g
Fiber 3 g 0 g
Protein 19 g 28 g

So what should I eat?

Ultimately, I recommend treating Impossible Burgers and those similar to them as once-in-a-while indulgences, just like you would a cheeseburger. If you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption and replace the occasional beef burger with an Impossible Burger, that’s great! If, on the other hand, you’re trying to eat more plant-based foods to improve your health, there are options that offer better nutrition. Less processed veggie burgers that contain ingredients like beans, whole grains, and vegetables also have less of an environmental impact while providing fewer calories, less fat and saturated fat, and more fiber. Another option is to use less meat and pack more veggies and beans into your burger. If you’re interested in trying one of these healthier burger options at your next barbecue, try the recipes I’ve included in the links below.

The Best Black Bean Burgers

Greek Turkey Burgers with Spinach, Feta & Tzatziki

Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers

Have a healthy and safe holiday! Stay blessed!