Veggie Burger Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

veggie burger on a plate with lettuce and tomato

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Veggie burgers come in many varieties, from artichoke to zucchini. In fact, because of the vast array of options, it can be hard to nail down a definition of what “counts” as a veggie burger. For all practical purposes, however, a veggie burger is one that contains no meat. Rather, veggie burgers can be made with any number of plant-based foods, such as grains, beans, soy, or (of course) vegetables.

Because of their diversity of ingredients, plant-based burgers range in healthfulness. The patty you whip up at home out of tofu, black beans, and/or quinoa will likely be full of fiber, plant-based protein, and micronutrients. On the other hand, a veggie burger you purchase at a restaurant or grocery store, though made with plants, may be highly processed and high in sodium.

Here’s an overview of the nutrition in veggie burgers.

Veggie Burger Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information for a 2.5-ounce veggie burger patty has been supplied by the USDA.

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 290mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Protein: 5g

Carbs 

Unlike burgers made of meat, veggie burgers naturally contain carbohydrates. From sources like beans, whole grains, and vegetables, these are typically the slow-digesting complex carbs that keep you fuller longer. However, depending on the formulation of a commercially prepared veggie burger, some carbs may come from added sweeteners. 

Fats

While veggie burgers aren’t loaded with fat, these faux meats usually require a binder, such as oil, to hold them together. That’s why you’ll find a small amount of fat (around 2 grams) in a single veggie patty. Look for products made with heart-healthy oils like olive or canola.

Protein

Veggie burgers won’t compete with beef burgers’ off-the-charts protein content of 22 grams per patty. But that doesn’t mean they don’t add to your daily total. At 5 grams of protein, a veggie patty comes with 10% of the daily value.

Vitamins and Minerals

With their many plant-based ingredients, veggie burgers can be a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals. Patties that include leafy greens, for example, will provide iron and vitamin K, while those that contain orange veggies like carrots or sweet potatoes pack a punch of vitamin A. Whole grains, meanwhile, add B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, and beans will give you potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and more. 

One micronutrient to watch out for is sodium. Because of their processed nature, many veggie burgers are high in this mineral. Sodium is essential for good health, but over-consuming it can lead to health problems. 

Health Benefits

In addition to being tasty, versatile meat alternatives, veggie burgers are full of health benefits.

Compatible with Vegan and Vegetarian Diets 

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, veggie burgers make a convenient alternative to a traditional beef burger. Vegans will just need to be mindful of animal products that some veggie patties may contain. 

Could Improve Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, your diet can make a difference in your body’s ability to respond to insulin. A 16-week study of 75 overweight adults found that eating a plant-based diet led to less insulin resistance.  

Promotes Healthy Digestion

A single veggie burger contains 3 grams of fiber, contributing to a daily goal of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Diets high in fiber can relieve constipation and help normalize bowel habits.

May Aid Weight Loss 

Looking to drop a few pounds? Opting for the plant protein in a veggie burger instead of red meat could help. Research shows that a plant-based diet is a useful tool for weight loss and obesity prevention.

May Lower Cholesterol

The benefits of veggie foods continue! According to the Mayo Clinic, a review of 11 studies revealed that eating a plant-based diet helped people significantly improve their cholesterol levels.

Allergies

An allergic reaction to a veggie burger will depend on the ingredients it contains. Unfortunately, though, veggie burgers are frequently a source of several of the top eight food allergens.

Numerous plant-based patties contain soy products, and some may also have wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, or nuts. Kellogg’s Gardenburger, for example, contains wheat, milk, and soy. Similarly, Morningstar Farms’ veggie burgers are a source of several common allergens: egg, milk, soy, and wheat. Boca Burgers, meanwhile, contain soy and wheat.

If you suffer from food allergies, it’s always smart to read labels on packaged foods to avoid a reaction. As an alternative, DIY your own veggie burger at home to ensure you only use ingredients you can tolerate. 

Adverse Effects 

Plant-based protein gets plenty of well-deserved glory for its relatively small environmental footprint and for helping consumers dial back their intake of red meat. But veggie burgers may come with some drawbacks.

For one thing, commercially prepared veggie burgers are a highly processed food. Ultra-processed foods—those that have gone through multiple steps from harvesting to arriving on your plate—have been associated with several adverse health outcomes. A 2018 study in the British Medical Journal found that eating more ultra-processed foods was associated with higher overall cancer risk. Other research has linked these foods to weight gain.

The high sodium in some veggie burgers may also pose problems for people with certain health conditions. If you’re working to manage hypertension through diet (or are on a low-sodium diet for any other reason) you’ll need to be mindful of the amount of sodium a veggie burger contains. According to the American Heart Association, people with high blood pressure should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.

Varieties

As mentioned, veggie burgers come in many forms with dozens of ingredients. (Same goes for homemade versions!) Once you start looking, you may be amazed at the head-spinning variety available online or in your grocery store’s freezer case.

Soy, grains, pea protein, vegetables, mycoprotein, and beans are just some of the primary protein sources in popular veggie burgers. You can choose your favorite based on flavor, nutrition content, or health goals. 

When It’s Best

Commercially prepared veggie burgers are available year-round, but if you’re making your own patties from vegetables, you may want to tailor your cooking to the season. Zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, for example, tend to be in season during the summer, while carrots, spinach, and kale are hardier for winter. Cooking with the seasons allows you a pleasant sense of variety throughout the year. Plus, it’s better for the planet! 

Storage and Food Safety

The majority of veggie burgers are frozen, though some newer versions can be refrigerated instead. In the freezer, veggie burgers can last up to six months. Once cooked, be sure to eat veggie burgers within two to three days. 

How to Prepare 

Purchased veggie burgers cook similarly to beef patties. You can enjoy them grilled, pan-fried, or even baked in the oven. Regardless of the method, they’ll generally need to cook under 10 minutes per side. For best taste and texture, be sure to follow cooking instructions on veggie burger packaging.

Recipes 

Healthy Veggie Burger Recipes to Try

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Article Sources
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