UW nutritionist: Non-meat Impossible burgers don't deserve a health halo

FILE- This Jan. 11, 2019, file photo shows the Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger containing wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein among it's ingredients in Bellevue, Neb. After months of shortages, Impossible Foods is partnering with a veteran food production company to ramp up supplies of its popular plant-based burgers. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

The plant-based Impossible and Beyond burgers have popped up everywhere of late, proving very popular with people who need to believe they taste as good as actual burgers. They certainly provide a wonderful placebo effect as a healthy alternative to beef, but according to UW Medicine dietitian Judy Simon, they're not nearly as healthy as advertised and probably won't grant you eternal life.

"They were really created to be a non-meat alternative to people who really wanted a burger so they tried to make them look and taste and feel like a burger … these more meat-like non-meat burgers are really fairly processed and they're quite expensive," Simon said.

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The issue becomes a tad obvious once you gander at the ingredients, which Simon says are not nearly as natural or healthy as lesser-known alternatives.

"I look to see if the actual ingredients are from real entire food. So for example when we look at this bean burger, the first ingredient is black beans. When I look at the Beyond Burger, the first ingredient is water," she said.

"If someone is trying to reduce the red meat intake … instead of eating burgers three days a week, they go down to one or two because they're having a ‘Beyond Burger,' they may be cutting their red meat intake and getting some pea intake and that might be a better improvement, but to just give it a health halo, like ‘Wow, this is going to change your life,' I don't think it's going to do that."

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