How To Build A Better, Healthier Burger

By:    Published: October 12, 2011

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Burgers are a classic staple of American cuisine, and have always been a family favorite. The problem is they are generally associated with a slew of health problems like:

Eating a burger every so often is not bad for you. In fact, there are plenty of health benefits associated with eating burgers due to their high protein and iron content. So, how did the burger gain such a bad rap over the years?

The problems most people are seeing form a burger heavy diet are associated with the low-quality meat typically used to make this fast food. These cheap, low-quality burgers tend to be loaded with cholesterol, saturated fat, sodium and trans fat. Then there are the condiments and toppings like cheese, onion rings, fatty dressings and even fried eggs. All of these factors, plus the methods used to prepare a burger play a part in making the hamburger, or cheeseburger, one of the worst food choices.

But, fear not! There is a way to get this protein power house back on the menu as a healthy food. All it's going to take is some time, effort and a lot of nutritional research on your part. If you're a burger lover at heart, and don't mind putting in the extra work to build a better, healthier burger, let SymptomFind help you out with the process.

Healthier Burger Meat

The first step you should take to build a healthier burger is to choose healthier meat. Start by opting for leaner burger patties when you head to the grocery. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a meat is considered lean if it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and fewer than 95 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol for every three ounces in one cooked serving.You can opt for an extra lean burger patty which is defined at having less than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat and fewer than 95 mg of cholesterol for every three ounce serving.

When you're shopping for burger patties, just look for labels that say:

  • "Lean 10% fat 90/10" for lean burger patties.
  • "Extra lean 5% fat 95/5" for extra lean burger patties.

Burger Alternatives

If the health factors of using the traditional cow beef have got you hung up on choosing a burger for your next meal, or if you're looking for other alternatives, you can try one of these substitutes:

  • Turkey or chicken: Poultry based burger patties are becoming quite common, with many chain restaurants offering the option of a turkey or chicken patty burger instead of the traditional burger patty made from cow beef. Turkey and chicken patties tend to have fewer calories and fat, while still providing a significant amount of protein.
  • Buffalo or bison: Buffalo and bison burgers are more similar in taste to a traditional burger than poultry patties because they are still red meat. However, they tend to have fewer calories and fat than a traditional burger because they are leaner cuts of meat. They also carry the same health benefits of a traditional burger because they are packed with protein.
  • Portobello mushroom: A Portobello mushroom burger is growing in popularity amongst vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. They are tasty, juicy and can even acquire the same grill marks and charbroiled taste as a regular burger. When used as an alternative to burger meat, Portobello mushrooms offer a flavorful substitute that is low in cholesterol and fat, while offering a significant amount of protein and nutrients like selenium.
  • Tuna: Bread crumbs, eggs and minced tuna can be formed into tuna patties to build a better, healthier burger than fatty burger patties. Tuna patties also have the added health benefit of omega 3 fatty acids, which can help stave off stroke, cancer and heart attacks.

Tips for Building a Better, Healthier Burger

To finish off building a better, healthier burger, try moving past traditional condiments and ingredients:

  • Replace the regular burger bun with one made from whole grains.
  • Load your burger with veggies, especially healthy ones like spinach. The greener and leafier the vegetable, the better.
  • Avoid fatty condiments like ranch dressing, and stick to ketchup and mustard instead.
  • Instead of frying your burger, try grilling it.
  • Opt for a medium cooked burger instead of medium rare or well done. Over cooking the burger can create the risk of ingesting carcinogens, and under cooking the burger can leave harmful bacteria like E. coli.
  • Oh, and skip the cheese!

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