Is Morning Star veggie burgers healthy?

Morning Star veggie burgers are a popular meat alternative made from non-GMO soy protein and other plant-based ingredients. With rising interest in plant-based diets and reducing meat consumption, many people are turning to veggie burgers as a healthier option. But are Morning Star veggie burgers actually good for you? Here is a comprehensive look at the nutritional profile, ingredients, and health effects of Morning Star veggie burgers to help you decide if they should be part of a balanced diet.

Nutritional profile of Morning Star veggie burgers

At first glance, Morning Star veggie burgers appear to be relatively nutritious. According to the nutrition facts label, a 113g Morning Star veggie burger contains:

Calories 250
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 820mg
Total Carbohydrate 16g
Dietary Fiber 10g
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 21g

This nutritional profile is fairly balanced, with a good amount of protein, fiber, and minerals like iron and potassium. The calorie, fat, saturated fat, and sodium counts are also modest for a burger.

Compared to a typical 113g beef burger, the Morning Star veggie burger is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol. The veggie burger provides a hefty 10g of fiber, while a beef burger contains no fiber. On the other hand, the sodium content is quite high in the Morning Star patty.

So in terms of overall macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the Morning Star veggie burger provides a relatively nutritious meatless option. But looking past the nutrition label, the ingredient list tells another story.

Morning Star veggie burger ingredients

Here is the ingredient list for the original Morning Star veggie burger:

Water, soy protein concentrate, corn oil, contains two percent or less of methylcellulose, yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, potato starch, tomato juice, natural flavors from non-meat sources, sunflower oil, dried yeast, dried garlic, onion powder, caramel color, paprika extract, annatto extract, turmeric, wheat flour, soy protein isolate, vinegar, gum arabic, ascorbic acid, citric acid, butter oil.

This lengthy list contains a number of processed ingredients and additives that may negatively impact health. Some concerning ingredients include:

  • Soy protein concentrate and isolate – highly processed forms of soy that contain phytoestrogens
  • Corn oil – high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids
  • Yeast extract – contains MSG, a neurotoxin
  • Maltodextrin – highly glycemic refined carbohydrate
  • Dried yeast – source of yeast allergens
  • Caramel color – possible carcinogen
  • Annatto extract – food coloring linked to allergies

The vegetable-based proteins, oils, starches, and extracts in veggie burgers are not as healthy as eating whole foods like beans, lentils, and vegetables. Heavily processed ingredients can promote inflammation and may contribute to chronic disease when consumed regularly.

Potential benefits of Morning Star veggie burgers

Despite the processed ingredients, Morning Star veggie burgers may still offer some benefits over meat burgers:

  • Higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Lower in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Contain antioxidant-rich spices like paprika and turmeric
  • No heme iron, which may promote cancer
  • More environmentally sustainable than beef

Replacing red and processed meat with veggie burgers is linked to lower risks of diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer. The fiber, vitamins, and plant protein can also help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

So enjoying the occasional Morning Star veggie burger in place of beef is likely a healthier choice, especially for those looking to reduce meat intake. But for optimal health, minimally processed plant proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu are superior options compared to highly refined soy- and wheat-based veggie burgers.

Potential drawbacks of Morning Star veggie burgers

Despite some advantages over beef burgers, regularly eating Morning Star veggie burgers may pose some health concerns:

  • High in sodium (820mg per burger)
  • Contain MSG, carrageenan and other additives
  • Heavily processed ingredients are pro-inflammatory
  • Nutritionally inferior to whole food plant proteins
  • Refined carbohydrates can spike blood sugar
  • Allergens like soy, wheat, garlic, and yeast

The high amount of sodium is concerning, as most health authorities recommend limiting sodium to under 2,300mg per day. A single Morning Star burger contains over one-third of the daily upper limit.

The additives like MSG and carrageenan found in veggie burgers may also trigger headaches, intestinal issues, and inflammation in sensitive individuals. And for those with food intolerances, this product contains possible allergens like soy, wheat, and yeast.

While veggie burgers are not “junk food” per se, the heavily processed ingredients used to mimic the taste and texture of meat does not necessarily equate to health food either. Whole food proteins like legumes and minimally processed meat alternatives like tofu are healthier choices.

Are Morning Star veggie burgers sustainable?

In addition to health effects, many consumers also ponder the sustainability and ethics of veggie burgers compared to beef:

  • Require fewer natural resources than beef farming
  • Generate far less greenhouse gas emissions
  • Do not contribute to deforestation for cattle grazing
  • Provide a cruelty-free alternative for vegetarians/vegans

Studies consistently show beef production requires 20x more land and generates 20x more greenhouse gas emissions compared to plant-based protein sources like soy.

However, over 90% of the soybeans grown globally are used for meat production, not veggie burgers. And processed veggie burgers still have a larger carbon footprint than unprocessed beans, lentils and other whole plant proteins.

So while Morning Star veggie burgers are incrementally more sustainable than beef, unprocessed plant proteins are optimal for both health and environmental sustainability.

Are Morning Star veggie burgers vegan?

Morning Star offers multiple veggie burger varieties. To see if a particular burger is vegan, you need to read the ingredients list carefully:

  • Original burger contains egg whites and cheese, so it is vegetarian but not vegan
  • Griller and Chik’n burgers contain dairy ingredients, so also not vegan
  • Spicy Black Bean and Chipotle Black Bean burgers are vegan

Vegans need to verify that a Morning Star burger does not contain any animal products like dairy, eggs, honey, whey, casein and others. Also, while Morning Star uses non-GMO soybeans, its facilities are not certified organic or gluten-free.

So double check the ingredients list on each burger variety to determine vegan suitability. Other brands like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Dr. Praeger’s offer additional vegan-friendly options as well.

Healthiest ways to eat Morning Star veggie burgers

To maximize the nutritional value of Morning Star veggie burgers, here are some healthy preparation tips:

  • Buy varieties with the fewest processed ingredients
  • Use whole grain buns instead of refined white buns
  • Load up on fresh veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, onions
  • Use avocado instead of cheese for creaminess
  • Flavor with hummus, salsa, or olive oil-based sauces
  • Bake or grill instead of frying to reduce oil
  • Enjoy alongside a salad or roasted veggies
  • Opt for air-fried veggie fries over regular fries
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water or unsweetened teas

Choosing one of the simpler burgers made with whole ingredients like beans can provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Then piling on veggies, using healthy buns and condiments, and avoiding deep frying boosts the nutrition even further. Enjoying veggie burgers as part of an overall healthy diet, in moderation, is the best approach.

Are Morning Star veggie burgers microwavable?

Morning Star veggie burgers can be microwaved from a frozen state, which provides a quick and convenient meal option. However, microwaving can diminish some of the texture and taste.

Here are some tips for best results when microwaving Morning Star veggie burgers:

  • Remove plastic wrap and place on microwave-safe plate
  • Microwave frozen patty for 60-90 seconds on high
  • Allow to stand 1 minute before handling
  • Top with desired bun and condiments
  • Adjust cooking time as needed based on microwave wattage
  • Avoid microwaving from thawed state to prevent sogginess

Microwaving from frozen helps prevent excess moisture loss. Standing for a minute after cooking allows the moisture to redistribute evenly. Flipping halfway during microwaving can also help prevent one side from overcooking.

For best taste and texture, grilling, pan frying, or baking are preferable. But microwaving provides a fast alternative when time is limited.

Are Morning Star veggie burgers gluten free?

No, Morning Star veggie burgers are not certified gluten-free. Most varieties (except Spicy Black Bean) contain wheat flour, wheat protein and other wheat-based ingredients.

So gluten sensitive individuals or those with celiac disease need to avoid Morning Star veggie burgers, with the exception of the Spicy Black Bean burger.

Here are some certified gluten-free veggie burger brands to try instead:

  • Beyond Meat
  • Impossible Foods
  • Dr. Praeger’s
  • Hilary’s
  • Don Lee Farms
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Good Karma

Carefully reading the ingredients label of any veggie burger is important for those following a gluten-free diet. Contamination with gluten-containing ingredients during manufacturing can also be a concern. Buying certified gluten-free products provides added assurance.

Common questions about Morning Star veggie burgers

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Morning Star veggie burgers:

Are Morning Star veggie burgers vegan?

Some varieties are vegan (Spicy Black Bean) while others contain dairy and egg ingredients. Check the ingredient list to verify vegan suitability.

Are they non-GMO and organic?

Morning Star uses non-GMO ingredients, but products are not USDA Certified Organic.

Do they contain soy?

Yes, soy protein concentrates and isolates are primary ingredients. Those with soy allergies need to avoid them.

Are they healthy?

They can be a healthier alternative to beef burgers when consumed occasionally. But for optimal nutrition, minimally processed proteins are recommended over highly refined veggie burgers.

How many carbs in Morning Star veggie burgers?

There are 16g net carbs per 113g patty, with 10g as dietary fiber. So reasonably low carb but not keto-friendly.

Do they taste like real meat?

Most varieties aim to mimic the flavor, texture, and appearance of beef. But taste preferences vary individually.

The bottom line

In conclusion, are Morning Star veggie burgers healthy? Compared to beef burgers, Morning Star products are lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol yet provide more beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Consuming them in moderation in place of red meat can aid heart health and reduce cancer risk. However, the heavily processed nature of most Morning Star burgers along with high sodium levels may negate some of that benefit, especially for those with food sensitivities.

While an occasional Morning Star veggie burger can be part of a balanced diet, choosing unprocessed whole food plant proteins like legumes, nuts, seeds, and tofu is optimal for health. Carefully checking labels to avoid allergenic ingredients is also advised. Overall, veggie burgers are one convenient meat-free option that can be healthy in moderation, within an omnivorous or plant-based eating pattern. But relying on minimally processed foods on a daily basis remains the healthiest long-term approach.

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