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Best Fake Meats For Your Health

Where's the Beef?

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!

We're often tempted by faux-meat products at the grocery store — veggie burgers, tofurky and the like — because we assume they are healthy choices.

But according to registered dieticians Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, contributing editors at SELF and co-founders of C&J Nutrition, just like any category of food, some meat substitutes are far better than others.

"It's important not to assume that just because a product is vegan or meat-free that it's a healthful choice," says Jarosh. "You still want to be aware of saturated fat and calories."

And often, these faux meat products are jammed with sodium. "We recommend aiming for 1,500 mg a day," says Jarosh. "A good rule of thumb is that if each meal has 500 mg of sodium or less in it, then when you add snacks, you'll wind up around or just above the 1,500 mg mark for the day."

So what should you look for at the grocery store?

For veggie or soy burgers, opt for items that have 150 calories or less, no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, at least 10 grams of protein and no more than 350 mg of sodium. Jarosh and Clarke recommend Veggie Patch Portabella Burgers, Amy's Texas Veggie Burger, and Boca's Original Vegan Burger.

For faux lunch meat (per slice), they say to look for no more than 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, at least 2 grams of protein and no more than 125 mg of sodium. A good choice is anything from Tofurkey. They use organic soy in all of their deli slices.

If you're a chicken fan, Jarosh and Clarke recommend Gardein Chick'n Strips, which have 260 mg of sodium, 1.5 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein per serving.

Hot dog lovers can guiltlessly chow on Tofurky chipotle franks (200 mg sodium, 10 grams of protein per serving).

What's your favorite faux meat?

More from Self:
The 50 Healthiest Snacks
20 Superfoods for Weight Loss

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danakscully64 danakscully64 5 years
Seitan is awesome, but I've had a hard time finding the perfect recipe. I contacted a cafe in Florida asking for theirs, but they never got back to me.
weffie weffie 5 years
My favourite faux meat is probably homemade seitan "riblets" (my bf calls them Satan's balls lol) but I am also a fan of Tofurky deli slices. I've never liked any kind of lunch meat before, real or imitation, but I love that stuff! I like to make my own burger patties too (or just grill a portobello cap) but if I do buy them I get Yves brand. Lick's Natureburgers are the best I've tasted (and they come in slider size too!) but they're pretty unhealthy so I only get one as a treat now and then.
danakscully64 danakscully64 5 years
I love Quorn, but yes, it's full of salt. Salt doesn't scare me as much as real meat. Field Roast is amazing, tons of protein, fiber, and low fat. Gardein chik'n is good if it's blackened. I work at a restaurant that serves it and that's my favorite way to eat it.
amber512 amber512 5 years
I prefer to make my own black bean burgers. The faux meats are freaky. So many weird chemicals and WAY too much soy. Besides the fact that most of them are not gluten-free.
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