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REPORT: Plant-based meats tick more health boxes than real meat

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Plant-based versions have on average much less saturated fat, more or comparable protein, and lower or similar sodium than real meat. It is also a source of dietary fiber.

SOPHIE AUBREY: A new report has found that plant-based alternatives are on average nutritionally better or similar to their real meat equivalents. Non-profit alternative meat think tank Food Frontier analysed the nutrition information and health rating of almost 100 plant-based meat products in Australia and New Zealand and compared them to their animal meat counterparts across six categories, including sausages, burgers, bacon, mince and schnitzels.

The report finds that plant-based versions have, on average, much less saturated fat, more or comparable protein and lower or similar kilojoules and sodium. They are also a source of dietary fibre, which meat is not… The Food Frontier report found plant-based meats had better health star ratings in all categories except mince, which had the same rating as regular mince. Lichtenstein says this is because normal mince is less processed than products like sausages and bacon…

Report co-author Teri Lichtenstein, an accredited practising dietitian, says she was surprised by the findings and says as fake meat becomes more available in supermarkets, the study helps answer a critical consumer question by showing it is often a healthier direct swap… “Obviously the gold standard is to eat as many whole foods as possible like fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, but consumers have been hearing these messages for many years and not enough behaviour change has occurred,” Lichtenstein says…

UNSW professor of food and health Johannes le Coutre says while he thinks people should just eat more fruit and vegetables, he welcomes plant-based meats as a way to reduce global consumption of animal products… Plant-based meats are made using combinations of plant proteins (often peas or soy), oils, spices, seasonings, starches and additives. Lichtenstein says manufacturers have room for improvement with ingredients and nutrition. SOURCE…

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