How Healthy are Veggie Burgers?

Q:  Can you tell me how many calories are in a classic veggie burger? I eat them all the time and would like to know. – Wendy

A: It is difficult to give you an accurate calorie count for a ‘typical’ veggie burger, as they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. But I can give you some tips to make sure you’re eating healthy veggie burgers both at home and when dining out:

  1. Whether pre-packaged or made from scratch, veggie burgers can be made of a variety of different ingredients. Beans (like the black beans in MorningStar Farm’s Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger), rice (like the brown rice in Gardenburger’s Original Veggie Burger), textured vegetable protein—a soy-based meat alternative, mushrooms and/or a variety of other vegetables can be combined to make one delicious patty. Regardless of the combination of ingredients, a veggie patty is likely to have less saturated fat and cholesterol and more fiber than a meat-based patty. To make sure you’re still getting your protein from the veggie patty, choose a patty that contains beans or soy, top it with a slice of low-fat cheese, or enjoy it with a side of beans or cottage cheese.
  2. To keep the saturated fat and cholesterol of your entire burger low, use or request pan-spray instead of oil or butter to cook the patty, low-fat cheese instead of full-fat cheese on top, and unbuttered, dry buns. Rather than using high-fat mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based dressings, try low-fat/fat-free condiments, like mustard and ketchup, or veggie-based spreads, like salsa, guacamole and hummus.
  3. To up the fiber and flavor profile of your burger, load it up with more veggies (lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado) and fruits (pineapple, mango, pear) and eat it on a whole wheat bun.
  4. Sodium contents of veggie burgers can vary from restaurant to restaurant and brand to brand. When at a restaurant, ask for “no salt added” when ordering. When at the grocery store, look for a veggie burger with less than 500 mg sodium per patty (the lower the better!).
  5. To keep your entire meal lower in calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium, switch out those fried French fries for a side of fruit or vegetables. If you can’t live without the fries, try baking some potato or sweet potato wedges at home and flavoring with spices, like cayenne or garlic powder, instead of salt.

Whether vegetarian or meat-eater, everyone can enjoy veggie burgers. Give some of these veggie burger recipes a try, or enjoy a veggie burger at one of our Healthy Dining restaurants!