Burger King Is Making an Impossible Whopper—But Is It Healthy?
The burger chain coincidentally announced it was testing vegetarian Whoppers on April Fools’ Day.
Vegan menu options are popping up all over the place—from fancy steakhouses to White Castle—and Burger King is the latest to hop on the train with an “Impossible Whopper.” According to CNN Business, the chain announced its plans to test out plant-based patties made by Impossible Foods in 59 establishments around the St. Louis area. If all goes well, the company plans to roll out the plant-based Whoppers nationwide.
Chris Finazzo, president of Burger King North America, told CNN Business the company has wanted to add a vegan menu option for about a year but hasn’t wanted to sacrifice on flavor. Impossible Foods released their Impossible Burger 2.0 recipe earlier this year, which will be used in Burger King’s test run.
Finazzo said he hopes the Impossible Whopper will give those who want to eat a burger every day—but maybe not beef—permission to dine at BK more frequently. While we are all for evolving towards more plant-forward diets, should the Impossible Burger be considered a more nutritious option? Here’s how the Impossible Whopper stacks up nutritionally—and next to the traditional Whopper.
Impossible Burger Nutrition
We will start off by saying the Impossible Burger 2.0 is a significant improvement in the saturated fat and sodium departments, compared to Impossible Foods’ original recipe. The original—which is still being served in many of the 6,000 restaurants nationwide that carry Impossible Burgers—packs 290 calories, 14g sat fat, 580mg sodium, and 27g protein. The new version is only 240 calories, with 8g sat fat, 370mg sodium, and 19g protein. However, that’s not exactly improvement enough to deem this a “healthy” choice.
Interested in learning more about plant-based eating?
The ingredients list for Impossible Burger 2.0 isn’t exactly full of whole foods. The burgers are comprised mostly of soy protein concentrate (a highly-processed form of soy), a variety of oils (coconut being the main source), and various additives to help give the burger its signature “meaty” texture.
Impossible Whopper vs. Traditional Whopper
If one were to eat a Whopper every day, they probably are better off enjoying the Impossible version rather than the original. The New York Times reported Burger King’s Impossible Whopper will pack the same amount of protein as the traditional version, just with 15 percent less fat and 90 percent less cholesterol. However, both patties pack the same amount of saturated fat.
The AHA is pretty clear on their stance regarding saturated fat—all types put you at risk for cardiovascular disease (even from coconut). While reducing dietary cholesterol can be an important factor in reducing your risk for heart conditions, saturated fat has more distinct links to chronic disease risk. Saturated fat is also more likely to increase cholesterol in the body versus dietary cholesterol.
The bottom line: A vegan burger is still a burger at the end of the day—unless it’s made with whole foods like legumes and vegetables—and is probably not all that much healthier for you. However, consuming less meat is a great step towards living a more sustainable life, and choosing an “Impossible Whopper” over a traditional Whopper makes you one step closer to achieving that goal.