If you’re hankering for a hamburger, but don’t want all the calories and saturated fat of meat, look no further than your supermarket freezer section, where, usually in the vicinity of the frozen entrees, you’ll find veggie burgers. No doubt about it, veggie burgers offer several nutrition advantages over traditional beef burgers. Plus, they don’t carry anywhere near the risk of contamination with dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli. Most are made with soy, but a growing number use brown rice, oats, beans, mushrooms, lentils, quinoa, sunflower seeds and nuts for bulk and flavor.
A word of warning for vegans: Veggie burgers are not necessarily vegan, as many contain cheese, eggs, dairy protein (casein) and some other animal-based ingredients. If you want to avoid genetically modified soybeans, look for “GMO-free” on the label; by definition, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic foods are GMO free. Here are a few more veggie burger bits to digest:
- Soy burgers are usually the highest in protein.
- All are higher in fiber than beef burgers, since beef contains no fiber. Veggie burgers generally provide about 3 to 5 grams of fiber per patty, depending on the ingredients and size.
- All have fewer calories and much less fat, especially saturated fat, than even extra-lean hamburger meat.
- On the downside, all veggie burger patties are higher in sodium than beef patties.
- Pick up some dark lettuce, tomatoes, onions and whatever else you like to dress your burger with, and you’ve got a meal.