CM – Beef versus vegetable analogues: « These products should not be considered nutritionally interchangeable »



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By Katy Askew

July 07, 2021
– Last updated on
July 07, 2021 at 16:02 GMT

Related tags:
Meat, beef, vegetable, diet

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Manufacturers of plant-based meat substitutes have worked hard to create a taste and mouthfeel comparable to their animal counterparts. The texture of meat analogues is thickened with indigestible fiber such as methyl cellulose. While leghemoglobin, a ferruginous molecule made from soy, beetroot berries, and carrot extracts, was used to simulate “bloody”.

The nutritional labels of plant analogues that indicate vitamin, fat, and protein content, could also indicate a certain equivalence. To increase the protein content of vegetable meat alternatives, isolated vegetable proteins from soy, peas and other vegetable sources are used, for example. Some formulations also include adding vitamin B12 and zinc to their recipes to simulate the nutritional profile of meat.

However, a new study by researchers at Duke University finds that many other components of the diet do not appear on product labels – and here they say that plant analogues are « very different » from meat alternatives.

The study, published this week in Scientific Reports, measured metabolites – the « building blocks of the body’s biochemistry ». The study’s authors point out that these metabolites are critical for energy conversion, signaling between cells, building and breaking down of structures, and a host of other functions.

It is expected to be more than that in biology There are 100,000 of these molecules, and around half of the metabolites circulating in human blood are estimated to come from our diet.

« To consumers who read nutrition labels, they may appear nutritionally interchangeable, » said Stephan van Vliet, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke Molecular Physiology Institute who directed the research. « But if you look behind the curtain on Metabolomics and look at expanded nutritional profiles, we see that there are huge differences between meat and a plant-based meat alternative. »

The Duke Molecular Physiology Institute’s core metabolomics laboratory compared 18 samples a popular plant-based meat alternative with 18 grass-fed ground beef samples from an Idaho ranch. The analysis of 36 cooked meatballs revealed that 171 of the 190 measured metabolites varied between beef and the vegetable meat substitute.

The beef contained 22 metabolites that the vegetable substitute did not contain. The vegetable substitute contained 31 metabolites that meat did not contain. The biggest differences were in the amino acids, dipeptides, vitamins, phenols, and types of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids found in these products. The researchers found that several metabolites that are known to be responsible for the important to human health, either exclusively or in greater quantities, have been found in beef. These included: creatine, spermine, anserine, cysteamine, glucosamine, squalene and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. « These nutrients have potentially important physiological, anti-inflammatory, and / or immunomodulatory functions, » the authors say in the paper.

While the research highlighted nutritional discrepancies between meat analogues and beef, the study authors made no conclusions about which option is human Health was beneficial.

« These nutrients are important for our brain and other organs, including our muscles, » explained van Vliet. « But some people on a vegan diet can lead healthy lives – that is very clear. »

In fact, the researchers emphasized that the plant-based meat alternative contained several beneficial metabolites that are not found in beef, such as phytosterols and phenols.

“It is important that consumers understand that these products should not be considered nutritionally interchangeable, but that does not mean that one is better than the other,” concluded van Vliet. « Plant and animal foods can complement each other because they provide different nutrients. »

He said more research is needed to determine whether the presence or absence of certain metabolites in meat and plant-based meat alternatives has short- or long-term effects .

Source ‘A metabolomics comparison of plant-based meat and grass-fed meat shows large nutritional differences despite comparable Nutrition Facts Panels’ Scientific Reports DOI: -93100-3 Authors: van Vliet, S., Bain, JR, Mühlbauer, MJ et al.

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