3 Tips for Choosing the Best Meat Alternatives

Eliminating meat doesn’t automatically make your diet healthier. It’s still important to eat the right balance of healthy foods and to limit your intake of unhealthy foods. Ideally, replace meat with wholesome nutritious foods and stay away from highly processed, high-saturated and/or high-sodium foods. Here are 3 tips for choosing the best meat alternatives:

  1. Prioritize protein: look for at least 10 grams of protein per serving (about 3 oz). That is about 50% less from what you would get for 3 oz. of cooked chicken or beef. Look for at least 5 grams of protein for breakfast sausage and bacon, since their serving size (roughly 1½ oz.) is smaller.

 

  1. Watch out for sodium: aim for a maximum of 350 mg per serving. Otherwise, look for the potassium content (about twice as much as the amount of sodium) since it can help counter high-blood pressure from sodium. You can also compliment your meal with a side of high-potassium veggies such artichokes, avocados, beets, sweet potatoes, cooked Swiss chard, cooked spinach and/or Brussel sprouts.

 

  1. Check the oil. Most veggie meats are made with polyunsaturated oils, which can help lower “bad” cholesterol. However, others have a significant amount of saturated fat (5 grams or more) mostly from coconut oil. Look for veggie meats with no more than 2 grams of saturated fat.

Here is a list of healthier commercial meat alternatives, all listed have no more than 2 grams of saturated fat and free of food dyes:

Brand Kcals Protein (g) Sodium (mg)
Burgers (1 patty)
MorningStar Farms Grillers Original 130 15 260
Foodie Gourmet Griller 160 24 230
MorningStar Farms Mediterranean Chickpea 110 10 240
365 Whole Foods Meatless 120 11 300
Boca – All American, Grilled Vegetable, Musrhoom or Vegan 90 14 310
Chicken patties (1 patty)
Boca Original Chik’n Veggie Patties 150 12 300
Gardein Turk’y 140 10 280
Strips, Tenders & Meatballs (~3 oz)
Beyond Meat Beyond Chicken Strips (6) 130 20 340
Gardein Home Style Beefless Tips (2/3 cup) 140 16 340
Gardein Classic (3) 150 19 310
Breakfast Items (1 patty, 2 links or 2 strips)
365 Whole Foods Patties 60 6 135
Trader Joe’s Patties 80 70 230
Gardein Good Start Patties 90 9 250
MorningStar Farms Patties – except Original 80 8 230
Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon 100 10 250

Commercial food product recommendations for this article has been solely based on nutritional content, without any commercial conflict of interest.  

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