Nutrient Composition of a Selection of Plant-Based Ground Beef Alternative Products Available in the United States

Lisa Harnack, Stephanie Mork, Sruthi Valluri, Cecily Weber, Kristine Schmitz, Jennifer Stevenson, Janet Pettit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Sales of plant-based foods intended as direct replacements for animal products have been growing in the United States. Little is known about the nutritional quality of these products. Objective: Our aim was to evaluate the nutritional quality of a selection of plant-based ground beef alternative products available in the US marketplace and compare it with the nutrient content of ground beef. Design: We conducted an analysis of the food and nutrient composition information available for plant-based ground beef alternative products in the 2020 version of the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database. Participant/setting: We analyzed a selection of 37 plant-based ground beef alternative products available in the United States in 2019. Main outcomes measures: Food product content of energy, macronutrients, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and selected additional food components was measured. Statistical analysis: The percent Daily Value (DV) per 3-ounce cooked portion of each product was determined for nutrients with a DV. The median, interquartile range (IQR), minimum, and maximum nutrient values were calculated for all products by classification as vegan and nonvegan. Results: The median saturated fat content of the plant-based ground beef alternatives products as a %DV was 4% (IQR 2%). Vitamin and minerals for which median %DV values for plant-based ground beef alternative products were 10% or higher included folate (10%, IQR 10%), niacin (21%, IQR 7%), iron (10%, IQR 5%), phosphorous (10%, IQR 4%), sodium (18%, IQR 7%), manganese (20%, IQR 20%), and copper (24%, IQR 10%). The median dietary fiber content of the plant-based ground beef alternative products was 15% of the DV (IQR 6%). Most of the products contained less protein, zinc, and vitamin B12 than ground beef. Conclusions: The major brands of plant-based ground beef alternative products examined in this study have nutritional strengths as well as some shortcomings. Additional research to examine a broader set of plant-based meat alternative products, such as those designed as substitutes for chicken and pork, is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2401-2408.e12
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume121
Issue number12
Early online dateJun 2 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT Supported by grant T32DK083250 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Keywords

  • Plant-based diet
  • Vegan foods
  • Vegetarian foods

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