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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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|
|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.