When it comes to Whoppers, beef might be better for you

The Impossible Burger being tested in St. Louis contains some dark secrets.

Fred Bodimer
April 19, 2019 - 4:10 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Think that vegetarian burger you're eating is a healthier option than the regular beef one?  Not necessarily.  

KMOX asked a local dietician to compare Burger King's new meatless burger — The Impossible Whopper — to the traditional Whopper. 

Related: Burger King meatless 'Impossible Whopper' on sale only in St. Louis

"The Impossible Whopper is very close in calories and protein to the regular Whopper — but it's higher in carbohydrates and sodium," said Jessica Stafford, a registered dietician at SSM Health St. Joseph's Hospital in Lake St. Louis.  

"A regular Whopper has 660 calories while the Impossible Whopper has 630 calories. The regular Whopper has 40 grams of fat compared to 34 grams of fat for the Impossible Whopper. So those are very similar."

The Whopper has 28 grams of protein compared to 25 for the Impossible Whopper. 
 
"Now the difference again is in the carbohydrates and in the sodium," said Stafford.  "The carbohydrates in a regular Whopper are 49 whereas the Impossible Whopper has 58.  Usually when you're having something vegetarian, you're thinking it is made with vegetables and it is going to be lower in carbs.  But in this case, the Impossible Whopper is higher in carbohydrates."
 
And then there's the sodium content in the two burgers. 

"The Whopper has 980 milligrams of sodium while the Impossible Whopper has 1240 milligrams," said Stafford. "The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day and with the Impossible Whopper, you're getting well over a thousand.  So the Impossible Whopper is half your day's worth of sodium, but that's ok. You can have that but make sure everything else you have the rest of the day is naturally low in sodium."

The bottom line according to SSM Health Registered Dietician Jessica Stafford?

"The Impossible Whopper is a good choice on the Burger King menu for someone who is a vegetarian," Stafford tells KMOX.  "There's not a whole lot of vegetarian options when you're going out for fast food."

"Research shows that a plant-based diet is good because it helps reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline. But unfortunately, the Impossible Whopper is very high in both fat and sodium. So when you are ordering the Impossible Whopper, just know that it is very high in fat. But what you can do to help improve the nutritional quality is to ask for it without mayo. They will do that and that will definitely cut the amount of fat in the Impossible Whopper."

Stafford says we need to remember the vegetarian patty in the Impossible Whopper is still a processed food, and processed foods, she says, are always high in sodium. 

Another suggestion from dietician Stafford to help cut down on the sodium content is to avoid the medium-size French fries. 

"Medium fries have 390 calories, 17 grams of fat and 570 mg of sodium," said Stafford. 

To lower your sodium content, she suggests getting the small size fries instead or split some fries with a friend.   Or even better, Stafford says, consider ordering the garden side salad instead of the fries. 

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