Ask Dr. Nandi: Plant-based meals are they a healthier choice?

Posted at 6:09 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 22:24:44-04

(WXYZ) — Fast food restaurants are testing out plant-based meals – but are they really a healthier choice and what are they made of?

The latest plant-based food making headlines is KFC’s “Beyond Fried Chicken” made by a company called Beyond Meat. Quite a few ingredients are used to create this chicken substitute like soy and pea protein, carrot fiber, rice flour, yeast extract, onion and garlic powder along with salt.

Also jumping on the plant-based trend is Subway. They’ll be testing out their Beyond Meatball Marinara sub at select locations this September. Now they’ve also teamed up with Beyond Meat and their ground beef include healthy-sounding ingredients like pea, rice and mung bean protein, coconut oil, cocoa butter, potato starch, vinegar, beet juice extract, and salt.

Now it’s really not surprising that fast food places are trying out plant-based foods. People are looking for ways to cut back on meat. I’m one of them and for years have really enjoyed eating vegetarian meals twice a week every Thursday and Saturday.

A potato is considered healthy until you slice it up, deep fry it in oil and then dump a bunch of salt onto it.

Now everyone knows that KFC is famous for their fried chicken. And fried food comes with health risks.

In fact, studies have linked them to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is likely because fried foods are often cooked in hydrogenated oils that are high in trans fats. And trans fats raise LDL, the bad cholesterol levels.

Now when it comes to plant-based meatballs and hamburgers, the amount of sodium and saturated fat in them are often the same as what you’d find in regular beef products.

So yes, you’re not eating meat which helps your health and the environment. But many of these alternatives are considered processed foods, often loaded with sodium so I wouldn’t say they’re healthy either.

I would say to focus more on real whole foods and less on processed foods. A plant-based diet is very healthy, but you can also be what’s called “flexitarian” where you still eat meat, just less of it. That way you’re not depriving yourself.

And I’m not saying you should completely avoid these new fast food plant-based meats, go ahead and try them but do eat them in moderation. They are more like a treat.