Unpacking the nutrient profiles of new-age plant-based foods: Are they truly healthier?


In a current examine revealed in Food Research International, researchers discover the nutrient profiles of next-generation plant-based meals.

Research: Designing healthier plant-based foods: Fortification, digestion, and bioavailability. Picture Credit score: marilyn barbone / Shutterstock.com

Is a plant-based eating regimen higher?

Shoppers are more and more adopting plant-based diets as a consequence of considerations concerning the environmental, well being, and moral results of animal-sourced meals equivalent to meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy merchandise. Animal-based meals have a detrimental affect on the setting as a consequence of their contribution to greenhouse gasoline emissions, land utilization, water utilization, deforestation, air pollution, and biodiversity loss.

Whereas many imagine {that a} plant-based eating regimen is superior to 1 that features animal merchandise, this isn’t at all times true. Consuming recent greens, fruits, nuts, and whole-grain cereals has been related to higher well being outcomes; nonetheless, it stays unclear whether or not the newer plant-based meals, equivalent to meat, seafood, egg, and dairy options, are more healthy than the merchandise they goal to exchange.

Evaluating the dietary profiles of animal- and plant-based meals


The researchers of the present examine in contrast the dietary content material of a typical hen nugget to 2 plant-based options. Plant-based hen nugget analogs had decrease fats, calorie, and saturated fats content material and the next dietary fiber content material than actual hen nuggets.

Each plant-based and actual hen nuggets’ carbohydrate, protein, and sodium ranges had been comparable. General, plant-based hen nuggets could provide well being advantages as in comparison with actual hen nuggets as a consequence of their decrease fats, calorie, and saturated fats content material.


Like meat, fish is an effective supply of high-quality protein that’s simply digestible and incorporates all important amino acids. Nonetheless, actual and plant-based salmon merchandise differ considerably of their macronutrient and micronutrient profiles. For instance, the dietary worth of plant-based salmon isn’t as fascinating as actual salmon as a consequence of its decrease protein content material and better sodium ranges and energy.

Nonetheless, plant-based salmon has larger quantities of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron, doubtlessly offering well being advantages for people. Notably, plant-based salmon merchandise is probably not appropriate for people who want excessive protein ranges of their eating regimen.


Eggs are a preferred meals alternative all through the world as a consequence of their excessive protein and nutrient content material. Plant-based eggs have macronutrient profiles much like actual eggs, with comparable lipid and protein contents.

Nonetheless, these merchandise comprise barely larger calorie and carbohydrate contents. Moreover, the micronutrient content material of pure and plant-based eggs differ remarkably. For instance, plant-based merchandise exhibit larger zinc and iron content material than actual eggs, which is useful to well being. Nonetheless, these various egg merchandise even have larger sodium composition, which may have adversarial results on hypertension sufferers.  

Milk and dairy merchandise

Business plant-based dairy merchandise have various compositions that rely upon their formulation. Plant-based milk is made by way of both a top-down methodology, which includes grinding up plant supplies like oats, nuts, or soybeans, or a bottom-up methodology, which includes homogenization of emulsifiers, plant-based oils, and water.

High-down strategies of manufacturing plant-based milk, like oat, almond, or soy milk, typically comprise fewer energy as in comparison with cow’s milk. Though these milk merchandise could not have all of the micronutrients current in cow’s milk, they’re steadily enriched with vitamins equivalent to nutritional vitamins and minerals. Moreover, the bottom-up method can be utilized to create plant-based milk that intently resembles the composition of pure milk.

Plant-based cheese merchandise lack protein as in comparison with pure cheeses, which encompass 14% to 30% protein. Plant-based cheeses even have the next carbohydrate content material, primarily within the type of starch, which is utilized to create a cheese-like consistency. Moreover, plant-based cheeses have larger sodium ranges than actual cheese, which can pose a well being danger for people with hypertension.

Well being results of a plant-based eating regimen

In response to epidemiological analysis, vegans and vegetarians have decrease charges of continual illnesses equivalent to diabetes, hypertension, weight problems, metabolic syndrome, heart problems, most cancers, and arthritis than meat eaters.

Regardless of the potential well being benefits of a extra plant-based eating regimen, a vegan or completely vegetarian eating regimen can have vital disadvantages, particularly for younger kids, pregnant girls, and aged individuals. Important amino acids, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, zinc, calcium, and iron could also be inadequate in plant-based diets, as they’re discovered predominantly in meals originating from animals, equivalent to meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy merchandise.

In response to a number of dietary research, kids raised on a purely vegan eating regimen are typically shorter and thinner than these raised on a regular omnivorous eating regimen, and extreme malnutrition could often develop. Thus, a well-balanced plant-based eating regimen with dietary supplements could assist stop these unfavorable dietary and well being results.


Shoppers are more and more adopting plant-based diets as a consequence of environmental and health-related considerations. Because of this, the meals trade should develop plant-based meals that comprise important macronutrients and micronutrients to deal with potential deficiencies in vegan or vegetarian diets. Nonetheless, plant-based meals will be fortified with health-promoting elements equivalent to dietary fibers and nutraceuticals, which aren’t generally present in animal merchandise.

Additional analysis is required to know the digestive strategy of plant-based meals and their results on human well being and diet.

Journal reference:

  • McClements, I. F., & McClements, D. J. (2023). Designing more healthy plant-based meals: Fortification, digestion, and bioavailability. Meals Analysis Worldwide 169. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2023.112853
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