Healthy eating: How to make healthy burgers
01/13/2021 / By Skye Anderson / Comments
Healthy eating: How to make healthy burgers

Burgers may not be the best foods to eat for your daily dose of essential nutrients, but they’re not completely useless nutrition-wise. Nutritionists concede that this popular sandwich — despite being branded as junk food — is a good source of protein, iron and vitamin B12. Unfortunately, what it has to offer isn’t enough to justify eating large amounts of fatty meat, sugary condiments and refined grain buns every day, especially considering the health risks. According to studies, bad fats, added sugar and refined carbs are all linked to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

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But here’s some good news for burger lovers out there: Researchers have come up with a way to make burgers more healthful. And unlike your typical health blog or your usual source of alternative recipes, it’s not the buns or the ketchup that the Mexican researchers tried to fix. Instead, they focused on making the patty itself more nutritious.

Increasing the nutritional value of your beef patties

According to the researchers, changing the nutritional profile of food products by combining them with healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a good strategy for improving their quality, safety and shelf life. Among the benefits this approach offers are lower saturated fat and cholesterol content and reduced additives like salt.

Today, many non-traditional ingredients show promise as additives for the development of new and healthy meat products. Flaxseed, for instance, is rich in a-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that helps prevent heart attack and lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Flaxseed is also a great source of protein, dietary fiber and health-promoting phytonutrients.

Another example of a promising non-traditional food additive is tomato. A popular fresh-market vegetable, tomatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. Eating tomatoes regularly is said to offer health benefits like better digestion, good eye health, younger-looking skin and lower risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

According to previous studies, incorporating flaxseed into meat products improves their fatty acid profile but compromises their color, taste and appearance. On the other hand, adding tomato paste to meat products improves these properties. Armed with this knowledge, the Mexican researchers decided to test whether the combination of flaxseed and tomato paste could produce beef patties with enhanced nutritional and sensory properties.

The researchers confirmed that the addition of flaxseed alone increased the ALA content of beef patties. In terms of taste and appearance, products composed of 15 to 20 percent tomato paste were the closest to the original beef patties. As the amount of added flaxseed increased, the polyunsaturated fatty acid content of the products also increased but at the expense of their sensory properties. The best and most balanced beef patty formulation, the researchers found, was the one that contained an equal amount (10 percent) of flaxseed and tomato paste.

The researchers said that the addition of flaxseed and tomato paste considerably improved the nutritional value and sensory quality of beef patties. This combination can therefore be used to develop a healthy alternative for health-conscious consumers.

How to make healthy burgers

There’s a lot to be said about the nutritional quality of commercial (and sometimes, even homemade) burgers. To make a truly healthy one, nutritionists and dieters would suggest altering many of its original components. A quick search on the Internet will give you plenty of ideas and options on how to overhaul your burger recipe.

For example: When it comes to dealing with bad fats — your saturated and trans fats, that is — and red meat, experts recommend going for lean cuts and trimming off as much fat as you can before cooking. Limiting the size of your meat to about two or three ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) also works. Or better yet, they suggest replacing them altogether with healthy alternatives like poultry, fish, beans and lentils.

These foods are not only devoid of bad fats, but they’re also super nutritious and good sources of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These are your omega-3s, -6s and -9s, the kinds of fat that you want in your body since they can boost your heart, brain and immune function, among other things. PUFAs (omega-3s and -6s) are also known as essential fats because our bodies need them but can’t produce them.

Your choice of cooking method also matters. If you insist on eating meat, experts suggest you forgo frying and either bake, broil, stew or roast your meat. You should also learn how to use spices and herbs when cooking so you can do away with premade seasonings or rubs that contain too much sodium. Remember: High-sodium diets can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

When it comes to buns, crafty cooks and kitchen moms who are concerned about what they feed their families have come up with clever ways to do without these refined carbs. So whether you have celiac disease, abhor gluten or simply watching your carb intake, you’ll be glad to know that there are healthy swaps to traditional burger buns. Here are some of the best: (h/t to TasteOfHome.com)

  • Portobello mushrooms — When it comes to healthy eating, these fungi are your best friends! They’re a good source of fiber, B-vitamins and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, copper and selenium. Portobello mushrooms are also low in calories and can mimic the texture of traditional buns almost perfectly, so try sandwiching your patty next time between grilled or baked Portobello buns!
  • Fresh lettuce — Crispy, refreshing and large enough to hold your fixings, Romaine lettuce is a great choice for your burger wrapping. This variety of lettuce is rich in fiber, vitamins C and K and potassium, so you’ll be getting plenty of extra benefits from your healthy burger if you use this alternative.
  • Tomatoes — Juicy, red tomatoes are a burger staple. They complement the taste of meat patties and add a bit more juiciness to your sandwich. But did you know that your burger can taste just as good inverted? Just slice a large tomato in half, scoop out the seeds and slip your patty in-between! Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and antioxidant lycopene!
  • Eggplants — Grilled or roasted eggplant slices work well with burger patties. You can get those slices as crisp as you want on the outside and light and airy on the inside like real burger buns. Eggplants also come with plenty of nutrients, including fiber, protein, manganese, folate, potassium, vitamins C and K, and the powerful antioxidant, chlorogenic acid.
  • Sweet potatoes — Sweet potatoes may be full of carbs, but these carbs are the good ones. Called complex carbs, these are better than the simple carbs found in traditional burger buns because they take longer to break down. As a result, they provide lasting energy for your body and don’t cause blood sugar spikes. To use sweet potatoes as burger buns, slice them into 1/2 inch-thick pieces and roast them in the oven at 450 F for 25 minutes.

Burgers can be great and fulfilling snacks when made with the right ingredients. While regular store-bought burgers are tasty, they don’t offer much in terms of nutrition and also increase your risk of serious health problems. But this doesn’t mean you need to avoid burgers for the rest of your life. To enjoy a truly healthy and nutritious burger without sacrificing its taste (or your health), try the alternatives listed above or play around with fresh ingredients in your kitchen until you find the best burger recipe for you!

Sources:

Time.com

RxList.com

MedicalNewsToday.com 1

TAndFOnline.com

Heart.org 1

Heart.org 2

HSPH.Harvard.edu

TasteOfHome.com

LiveStrong.com

Share.UPMC.com

Healthline.com

MedicalNewsToday.com

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