Large nutritional differences between plant‑based and grass‑fed meat

RESEARCHERS have found that the nutritional fact panels found on many products are misleading, and that there are in fact large differences between plant-based meat and grass-fed meat – even when to all appearances the nutritional content is similar.

The researchers says that “A new generation of plant-based meat alternatives – formulated to mimic the taste and nutritional composition of red meat – have attracted considerable consumer interest, research attention, and media coverage. This has raised questions of whether plant-based meat alternatives represent proper nutritional replacements to animal meat.

They say the goal of their study was to use untargeted metabolomics to provide an in-depth comparison of the metabolite profiles a popular plant-based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef matched for serving size and fat content.

They found that “Despite apparent similarities based on Nutrition Facts panels, our metabolomics analysis found that metabolite abundances between the plant-based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef differed by 90% (171 out of 190 profiled metabolites).

“Several metabolites were found either exclusively (22 metabolites) or in greater quantities in beef (51 metabolites).

“Nutrients such as docosahexaenoic acid, niacinamide (vitamin B3), glucosamine, hydroxyproline and the anti-oxidants allantoin, anserine, cysteamine, spermine, and squalene were amongst those only found in beef.

“Several other metabolites were found exclusively (31 metabolites) or in greater quantities (67 metabolites) in the plant-based meat alternative (all, p< 0.05). Ascorbate (vitamin C), phytosterols, and several phenolic anti-oxidants such as loganin, sulfurol, syringic acid, tyrosol, and vanillic acid were amongst those only found in the plant-based meat alternative. "Large differences in metabolites within various nutrient classes (e.g., amino acids, dipeptides, vitamins, phenols, tocopherols, and fatty acids) with physiological, anti-inflammatory, and/or immunomodulatory roles indicate that these products should not be viewed as truly nutritionally interchangeable, but could be viewed as complementary in terms of provided nutrients." They say that this new information is important and will help customers make informed decisions, and should be considered health professionals. They note that it cannot be determined from the data if either source is healthier to consume. Read the full research

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