When you order a veggie burger, you don’t have to worry about whether the beef you’re about to eat is antibiotic-free and grass-fed. Still, there’s a good chance your favorite bean or mushroom patty is a lot less healthy than you think. And by less healthy, we mean it has more calories, lots more sodium, and more saturated fat than a McDonald’s Big Mac.
What?! How’s that possible? For starters, the veggies in these patties are often held together with oil or lard, pretty much eradicating the low-cal benefits of a burger made from beans, carrots, zucchini, or oats instead of beef. Next, these could-be-healthy patties are often deep fried, slathered in creamy sauces, topped with multiple kinds of cheese, and placed on giant carb-bomb buns.
“A lot of companies also add a ton of salt to these burgers to make them taste better, which means many veggie burgers at the most popular chain and fast-food restaurants have more than 1,000 mg of sodium—nearly half of the daily recommended allowance,” says Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian nutritionist and the author of Plant-Powered for Life.