They may taste the same, but the protein quality of plant-based and animal-based burgers is different

They may taste the same, but the protein quality of plant-based and animal-based burgers is different

Hamburgers of vegetable origin often promise proteins comparable to those of animal origin, but this is not entirely true, because the human body needs the essential amino acids present in protein and the concentration and digestibility of amino acids are different between the ones. protein sources .

To account for these differences, about a decade ago the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) developed a new standard for protein quality, the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Index (DIAAS).

DIAAS and Beyond Burger

A new study from the University of Illinois and Colorado State University leverages the DIAAS system to understand the quality of protein in Impossible and Beyond Meat’s Beef and Pork Burgers and Plant-Based Burgers .

The researchers fed the pigs pork patties, 80% and 93% lean patties, the soy-based Impossible Burger, and the pea-based Beyond Burger, the FAO recommended research topic for the DIAAS studies. They then measured the digestibility of the individual essential amino acids and used those digestibility scores to calculate the DIAAS values .

Both the beef and pork burgers, served without buns, were rated as "excellent" sources of protein (DIAAS scores 100+, for people of all ages). The Beyond Burger, when served without bread, was also rated as an excellent source of protein for children 3 years and older, but not for children under 3 years of age. With a value of 83, the Beyond Burger without bread alone was a "good" source of protein for children ages 3 and up .

According to Hans H. Stein , a professor in the Illinois Department of Animal Sciences and Nutritional Sciences Division, and a co-author of the study in the European Journal of Nutrition :

We have previously observed that animal proteins have higher DIAAS values ​​than proteins of plant origin and that is also what we observed in this experiment. There was a higher DIAAS value when mixing the pork or beef hamburger with the bread (values ​​of 107 and 105 respectively, for the age group older than 3 years) than for the impossible hamburger, which had a DIAAS value of 86 if consumed with bread. That means you need to eat 15% more of the Impossible Burger-pan combination to get the same amount of digestible amino acids as if you ate the pork or beef burgers. And if you have to eat more, that means you will also get more calories.

It is especially children, adolescents, nursing women, and the elderly who are at risk of not getting enough amino acids . The results of this experiment, along with the data above, demonstrate the importance of incorporating proteins of animal origin into diets to provide sufficient amounts of digestible essential amino acids for these populations.