Are Impossible Burgers Healthier Than Beef Burgers? Here’s The Verdict

The full list of ingredients is complicated.

By Madeline Merinuk
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Can You Really Get Lab-Made Meat to Taste Like the Regular Beef? (3:55)

The first time I heard about an Impossible Burger was at a food festival in Philadelphia. It was unfathomable to me that a meatless burger could look and taste exactly like meat, but have no trace of meat inside of it. I know I'm not the only one astounded by all the meatless meat options there are nowadays. With the Dunkin' Donuts Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich to the Impossible Whopper at Burger King, it's evident that meatless meat — particularly the Impossible Burger — is taking the fast-food industry by storm. But what are the ingredients that make up this trendy food? And are Impossible burgers really healthier than beef burgers?

Impossible Burgers are causing a consumer frenzy. In fact, correspondent for The Dr. Oz Show, Mara Schiavocampo, reported that 93 percent of consumers are regular meat-eaters, and most just want to see whether these meat alternatives really do live up to the hype. But even though this meat alternative can appear to be healthier than an average Big Mac, how do we know if it really is? 

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Impossible Burger Ingredients

According to Impossible Foods, the creators behind the Impossible Burger, this burger alternative is composed of four main ingredients found in all burgers: protein, fat, binders, and flavor. The difference lies in the ingredients, which are all plant-based. Instead of gaining protein from animal meat, soy and potato protein step in as a substitute. The ingredient that makes the burger "bleed"  and taste like meat when you cut into it is heme, which is genetically engineered by combining soy protein and genetically engineered yeast. And that sizzle you hear when an Impossible Burger hits the pan? That comes from the coconut oils and sunflower oils that are used to bind the burger together. The burgers are also packed with vitamins, including vitamin E, B1, C, B6, B2, and B12. 

The big question about the ingredients in an Impossible Burger is usually around the source of protein. According to Healthline, Impossible Foods changed the protein source in 2019 from wheat protein to soy protein concentrate to make it gluten-free and give it more protein.

You can find a comprehensive list of ingredients on the Impossible Burger website. 

Are Impossible Burgers Really Healthier?

According to Schiavocampo, Impossible Burgers and other plant-based meat alternatives are healthier than your average breakfast sausage or beef patty from your favorite fast-food joint. These plant-based alternatives have slightly more protein, which will keep you fuller for a longer period of time. Because these are plant-based alternatives, they are Nitrate-free, which, according to Schiavocampo, has been labeled a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. By reading the label, Schiavocampo found that meatless patties have less cholesterol, less saturated fat and total fat, and fewer calories overall than a fast-food burger. So, yes — they definitely are healthier than your typical choice of fast-food meat. 

However, if you're choosing an Impossible Burger over a burger that's not from a fast-food chain, like a grass-fed beef burger from a sit-down restaurant, you may not be reaping any health benefits. According to Good Housekeeping, plant-based protein that’s used to create something new is usually highly processed and is susceptible to being loaded with sodium and saturated fat, so it may not be healthier than a regular burger or homemade veggie pattie

Related:

The Best Beef for Your Burgers

Comparing Turkey Burgers to Beef Burgers

The 3 Types of Veggie Burgers

Article written by Madeline Merinuk