It sounds too good to be true—a
plant-based burger with the taste and texture of a juicy beef patty that
actually “bleeds” like the real thing—but that’s what people are saying about the
Impossible Burger. And vegans, vegetarians, and people who just want to cut
down on their beef intake are gobbling them up by the millions. The burgers
have become so popular, you can find them in grocery stores and at thousands of
restaurants across the nation. Even fast food chains are incorporating them
into their menus—Burger King has recently introduced the Impossible Whopper,
and White Castle is serving up its signature sliders with the meatless patties.
But is the Impossible Burger actually
good for you? I get so many questions about this, it’s time to take a deep dive
to see whether it’s truly a meatless marvel or just another faux food.
What the Heck is in the Impossible
Before you jump on the Impossible
bandwagon, take a deep breath and do what you’ve learned to do as a Brain
Warrior—look at the nutritional profile and the list of ingredients and make an
Impossible Burger nutritional
Let’s unpack this list. The
protein content is relatively high compared to most vegan or veggie burgers,
which are usually pretty low in protein. Another bonus is that it has 3 grams
of fiber and it’s relatively low in sugar, whereas most other vegan burgers
have too much sugar.
Sounds pretty good so far, right?
It gets a little muddier when you look at the ingredients list.
Impossible Burger ingredients
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), and vitamin B12.
Note that the burger’s
original recipe included wheat protein, but that has since been dropped from
the ingredient list, making it gluten-free.
What Do These
Let’s break it down. One of the most concerning ingredients in this list is the soy leghemoglobin. This is the stuff that gives it the bleeding effect. This particular ingredient is actually the most controversial one in the burger because it is genetically engineered by adding soy protein to genetically engineered yeast. This means it isn’t a “clean” food, which doesn’t really fit into my usual recommendations for a brain healthy diet. In addition, testing on animals has only been on a short-term (28 days), and it hasn’t been tested on humans at all. The Center for Science for Public Interest concluded that FDA testing on this ingredient is inadequate.
Then there’s the soy protein isolate, which is another questionable ingredient. This food additive may contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can make even the blandest food taste delicious. But it may also contain excitotoxins, biochemicals that act as neurotransmitters and excite neurons in the brain, according to Russell L Blaylock, M.D., a former neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Blaylock has found that when there are too many excitotoxins in the brain, it can kill neurons, which is obviously detrimental to your brain health.
Another ingredient that doesn’t
fit in a brain healthy diet is sunflower oil. Although it is good for cutting
back on saturated fat, it is also very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are proinflammatory.
On the plus side, it does have
certain trace minerals and vitamins, such as B12, folate, thiamine, riboflavin,
niacin, zinc, iron, and selenium. To be fair, I have to give it props for
having some benefits that other burgers don’t.
The Bottom Line on Burgers
As a Brain Warrior, it’s up to you
to decide what to put in your body. If you’re going to eat at a fast food
restaurant, the Impossible Burger probably isn’t the worst thing on the menu. However,
think about what goes with it, too. Are you eating it on a white bun with
ketchup and fries on the side? Fast food buns are devoid of nutrients, have no
fiber, turn to sugar in your system, and spike your blood sugar. Ketchup is
full of high fructose corn syrup. And fries…well, you know those are terrible
Personally, I find some of the
ingredients in the Impossible Burger to be questionable, and I prefer more
wholesome forms of vegan burgers that are made with whole-food ingredients.
If you’re not a vegan and you’re simply
looking for something that’s cleaner than a beef burger or that doesn’t have as
much saturated fat, you can try a turkey burger. But if you’re concerned about
the environment or committed to avoiding meat, these meatless burgers are an
option. Just be aware of what’s in it before you eat it. Always make conscious
choices about your food—that’s the Brain Warrior’s Way!
You can find a delicious recipe for Restful Turkey Burgers on my website and can find more tips for brain healthy eating in The Omni Diet and The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook. Take 21% off your order when you enter the promo code TANA21.
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