The Impossible Burger has taken the world by storm as a nutrition-packed alternative to red meat.
But is it actually good for you?
Though we are proponents of reducing meat consumption in favor of eating more plant based foods, the reality is that many of the ingredients in this mock meat patty are far from healthy.
Here’s what’s inside: Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.
At first glance this might seem pretty nutritious. Soy, the main ingredient and sole protein source, is good for you – right? That’s what Sue Klapholz, Impossible Foods vice president of nutrition & health, often touts: “Soy is not only safe; it’s accessible and nutritious.”
We agree with Sue . . . to some degree.
One of the things soy is famous for is its isoflavone component, an active substance derived from plants that has known health benefits. These include prevention of cancer and heart disease, promoting strong bones, and reducing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes for some women, and loads of great vitamins and minerals, just to name a few.
But isoflavones are only found in whole, mostly unprocessed forms of soy. Think tofu, tempeh, edamame and miso. When it comes to soy protein concentrates and isolates, like those found in the Impossible Burger, the isoflavones are completely removed (usually via an alcohol bath) which results in a food-like product that has very little, if any nutrition left.
That being said, even more concerning is that the soy in Impossible Burgers is made from genetically modified (GMO) soy crops. This means that the soy they are using has been treated with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. According to the World Health Organization, glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.
Though levels of glyphosate in the Impossible Burger are considered on the low side (11 parts per billion), evidence from animal feed studies have demonstrated that even 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has the ability to completely disrupt and degrade gut bacteria and may also damage the liver, kidneys, and immune system.
Monsanto is also currently in the midst of thousands of cases where they have been ordered to pay billions of dollars to compensate human plaintiffs struck by cancer due to glyphosate exposure – mainly non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As far as some of the other ingredients found in the Impossible Burger, most are highly processed like yeast extracts and food starches which ALSO are derived from potential GMO based ingredients, plus a few added synthetic vitamins and minerals thrown in.
Our final verdict
We are not here to tell you that eating a few Impossible Burgers is going to give you cancer. But if you are looking for a healthy alternative to meat, this isn’t it.
As far as plant-based burgers go that we would endorse, one possibility is the Beyond Burger. It also has a meat-like texture (if that’s what you’re looking for), but the company uses pea, rice, and mung bean protein instead of soy. We also like that the product is non-GMO.
The winner is our book, though, is Hilary’s Organic Veggie Burgers. Though you won’t be biting into a juicy tasting beef-like burger, just trust us. They are delicious, made from whole food sources, and totally safe!