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Meat-free fast food burgers are probably not better for you

The meatless fast food is not necessarily healthier.

The alternative meat market is booming, with herbal fake meats that look, taste and bleed just like the real one that takes over grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Part of the appeal for diners is to eat less red meat can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health risks. But nutritionists and registered dieticians say you order a meat-free burger in a chain – especially one where you can get fries with it – maybe not so much better for you.

"Are they healthier in terms of sodium, calories and fat content? Definitely not," Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and bariatric program manager at Lenox Hill Hospital, told MarketWatch.

MarketWatch compared the nutritional value of meat-free menu items to their fleshy counterparts at Burger King, McDonald's MCD, White Castle, and Del Taco TACO, nutritional profiles are strikingly similar, and fast-paced fast food is seen as an inexpensive option for eaters on the go, but meat-free versions of fast food menu items were more expensive in any case.

At Burger King, meat-free Impossible Whopper, available in selected locations, is 630 calories, compared to the regular Whopper that is 660. (The impossible burger is made with soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and heme, a molecule that does that it looks and bleeds like real meat).

Both have about the same amount of fat (34 grams of fat and 1

1 grams of saturated fat for impossible whopper and 40 grams of fat and 12 grams of saturated fat for Whop per). The meat-free version has a whopping 1,240 milligrams of sodium versus 980 for the meaty.

"It's almost as much calories as the regular burger. The fat is slightly lower, but the saturated fat is still quite high," notes Zarabi of the saturated fat, which is almost as accurate in each. Consumers can expect to pay at least 10 cents more for Impossible Whopper ($ 4.29), with rates varying by location. In the Bay Area, meatless Whopper sells for $ 6.19 before tax, compared to $ 4.89 for the original version. (Burger King did not respond to a request for comment.)

Zarabi urges consumers to look at the weight in grams for each menu item. At White Castle, the impossible slide is 90 grams in weight, compared to the original slider, which is 55 grams. If you do not look at nutrition facts, it may seem as if the impossible slider is worse for you, but they are virtually the same. The impossible slide is 210 calories with 11 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat compared to the original slider's 140 calories with 7 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. The impossible slide costs $ 1.27 more. White Castle did not respond to a request for comment.

"It's a bigger size, that's why the calories will be more, that's why the sodium will be more. That means they're almost equal in profile," Zarabi explained.

Beyond Taco at Del Taco also has a very similar nutritional value compared to a regular taco. Both are 300 calories and contain almost the same amount of fat and saturated fat. However, Beyond Taco contains 100 milligrams of salt and costs $ 1 more. Del Taco did not respond to a request for comment.

Other fast food tests have experimented with herbal proteins in a limited way.

In 2017, McDonalds launched a McVegan sandwich, a vegetable-based vegan sugar made with soybeans, but only in Finland and Sweden. In the spring, it added a burger called Big Vegan TS – made with a patty of Nestle NSRGY, to menus in Germany. Nestle has said it wants to start selling a meat-free burger to US retailers this fall and it is looking to expand its restaurant partnership beyond McDonald's, Reuters reported. A rep for McDonalds did not immediately submit a request for comment.

Chick-fil-A has studied vegan meat exchanges according to Business Insider and a spokeswoman for the Georgia-based chicken snack chain suggested MarketWatch that the company could come out with meat-free assortment in the future, but would not provide any further details. "The culinary team at Chick-fil-A always explores new trends and possible menu offerings for our customers, and we are still at the beginning of the development process. We currently offer several road options for our guests," says Leigh Jackson, a Chick file spokesman -A, MarketWatch in an email. (Chain ish browns and waffle fries are vegans, among others.)

Wendy's WEN tested a black bean vegetarian burger (which customers could become a vegan burger by ordering it without cheese ) in 2016, but discontinued the item, Wendys did not respond to a request for comment

Dr. Lisa Young, a registered dietician and author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim", says meat options become even more unhealthy when you are a factor in the bread, spices and french fries that usually round out a fast food meal.

"They often came with white bread, cheese and who knows the oil they are grilling in it, Young said. Another concern: the so-called "health halo" effect. Research has shown that when people eat food they perceive to be healthy, they tend to exaggerate later. Many people perceive meatless foods as better for them, so they may be inclined to consume more calories later in the day after eating a meat-free meal.

"People are being deceived by the" health halo "effect, Young said." If they contain similar calories, a similar amount of saturated fat and sodium, you are not only better, but you can actually get worse. If you have one of these meat-free burgers you may think, "I can have pizza for dinner." "Fast food restaurants seem to be in a cool game of catching meat exchanges in their menus. The market for meat-based meat exchanges could swell to $ 140 billion over the next ten years," said Barclays recently. Beyond Burger and the meat inside Del Taco's Beyond Taco – made history with stocks that increased from $ 46 to $ 65 for a profit of 163%.

Shares of Burger King Parent Company Brands have increased by 28% from year to year, compared to an 11% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.01% and a 15% increase S & P 500 Index SPX, -0.03%

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