A Healthy Hamburger?

With grilling season in full swing, you might be wondering if you should curb your burger consumption? Well, yes and no. There are definitely advocates on both sides of the “eat meat” and “don’t eat meat” scale. If fact, between Paleos and Vegans, these opinions and beliefs run as deep and polarized as Democrats and Republicans and discussions can get just as heated.  And I’m not here to tell you who to vote for, I’m just here to give you a few bits of information should you choose to indulge in a burger or two this Summer Season.

A Healthy Hamburger?

Hamburgers certainly aren’t famous for their health benefits, and for pretty good reason. The average fast food version will set you back 550-750 calories and load you up with over 2/3 of your daily fat requirements and just about all of your saturated fat for the day. And that’s before you add fries and a drink. And it’s pretty low quality meat and produce, if any at all. So I do say skip the processed burger from the drive thru 100% of the time. But that’s not to say you can’t make a few tweaks, simple swaps and enjoy a balanced burger than can be a great addition to your healthy diet and lifestyle.

Red Meat is Nutritionally Dense

A great source of complete protein, red meat is also incredibly vitamin and mineral rich. Iron and B12 are kind of a big deal when it comes to energy and as a runner, who does not eat a lot of it, this can literally slow me down. And a standard 3.5oz burger can deliver 2.5mg (~15% of the RDA) of heme iron which has high bioavalibility and is easier for the body to absorb. It will also pump you full of 2.5 mcg of vitamin B12 (100 percent of the RDA).

All B vitamins are needed to turn food into energy and for the development of red blood cells, but B12 can only be found in animal sources, meaning the Vegans do need to supplement this in their diet. A deficiency can cause anemia, numbness, and general weakness. Red meat also contains other essential vitamins and trace minerals such as riboflavin, vitamin A, selenium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. All that said, the occasional hamburger sure could be a part of a well-balanced diet and improve your all-round health.

How to get even healthier between the buns.

You can boost the nutrition quality of your burger even more by making these simple swaps and additions. Even if you choose to skip the beef and go veggie or turkey burger, these additions can boost your vitamin, mineral and phytochemical power. The beauty of cooking at home ensures you can enjoy many health benefits by using the right, fresh, local, and organic ingredients.

Note: I am not a fan of how I look in this video, but the info is good! Should you care to skip my face, the highlights are below! Keep in mind this entire burger in this video has under 300 calories, 4g of fiber and 35g protein it also gives you a good does of your daily iron needs, is high in B vitamins, zinc and selenium!

Simple Swaps to Boost The Nutrition ROI of Your Basic Burger:

  • Swap the giant crusty white bun for a smaller, whole wheat version. Make sure it’s whole grain and it will be full of B-vitamins and fiber.
  • Get your greens by piling on fresh spinach instead of iceberg. It’s a great source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as minerals manganese, zinc, and selenium.
  • Use fresh, organic tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the “dirty dozen” list, meaning they are one of the foods that are most harmed by pesticides and definitely worth the extra buck when shopping for organic produce. Plus, they’ll probably taste better and be full of lycopene, and vitamins A and C.
  • Use red onions over white because they are packed with more phytochemical power and contain polyphenols and flavonoids.
  • Use spicy mustard instead of mayonnaise and save yourself 75 calories and 10 g of fat per tablespoon.
  • Use 95% lean beef over 80% fatty beef and a moderate 3 oz serving will save 40 calories and 5 g fat or better yet, use 99% lean turkey and save 60 calories and 9g fat.
  • Skip the cheese, the flavor is easily lost in the mix anyhow. The uneaten, unnecessary 1-oz slice of cheddar will save you 70 calories and and 6g of fat.
  • Search for grass fed, pastured, antibiotic free, organic beef. Not only is it better for the planet and your body, it will literally taste better.

Are you a burger lover? What are your favorite healthy tips? 

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