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Is Carl's Jr's New 'Beyond Burger' Actually Healthy?

[Editor's Note: A previous iteration of this article stated that that the "Beyond Burger" had 0 grams of saturated fat, but the patty itself has 5 grams. A Carl's Jr. representative reached out to Foodbeast and added that the Beyond Famous Star is higher in calories, protein, and sodium because the patty is larger than a standard Carl's Jr. beef patty.]

Plant-based foods are usually associated with being "healthy," but just as being a vegan doesn't necessarily mean you're in good health, eating Carl's Jr's new Beyond Famous Star Burger doesn't mean you can suddenly binge on plant-based cheeseburgers.

Beyond Meat makes a veggie-based burger that looks, and almost tastes like beef, quickly becoming popular with the vegan and vegetarian community. When carefully compared to a classic beef Famous Star with cheese, however, the Beyond Famous Star doesn't really wow you in the nutritional department.

In fact, the plant-based burger is actually higher in calories, fat, carbohydrates, and has the same amount of sugar content.

To be fair, a lot of it comes from the bread, cheese, and sauce, not the patty itself, but the same could be said for its beefy counterpart.

When put side-by-side, with the patty being the only difference between the two burgers, the numbers stack up like so:

Calories:

Beyond- (710)

Beef- (690)

Fat:

Beyond- (40 grams)

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Beef- (37 grams)

Carbohydrates:

Beyond- (61 grams)

Beef- (57 grams)

Protein:

Beyond- (30 grams)

Beef- (28 grams)

Cholesterol:

Beyond- (30 mg)

Beef- (75 mg)

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Sodium:

Beyond- (1,550 mg) 

Beef- (1,210 mg)

Sugars:

Beyond- (12 g)

Beef- (12 g)

Fiber:

Beyond- (5g)

Beef- (3g)

__________

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Perhaps the key difference, while subtle, lies in the cholesterol.

Beyond Famous Star pictured to the left, Beef Famous Star on right.

With 40 fewer milligrams, zero coming from the patty itself, the new veggie burger is a tad bit more heart friendly than its beefy uncle, however, the sodium content is less than ideal. With a whopping 1,550 mg of sodium, the Beyond Burger has 340 more milligrams than the standard Famous Star, and surpasses The American Heart Association's ideal daily recommendation of 1,500 mg.

You're probably reading this and telling yourself, "Well, that's because it has a bunch of fast food ingredients attached to it. The Beyond Burger patty itself probably isn't that bad on its own."

That is also not necessarily true.

When comparing the Beyond Burger patty, stripped down, with no cheese, bread, or sauce to blow up its nutritional numbers, a typical standard beef patty still has a bit of a nutritional edge.

For example, the Beyond patty is still higher in calories (270), fat (20g), sodium (380 mg), and carbohydrates (5g). It also has a little bit more protein (20 grams) for you meatheads trying to bulk up.

Even with all this data, you could argue that it is a win for Beyond Meat. If the goal is to make plant-based food that resembles its meaty predecessors, then plant-based junk food, in theory, should be, well, junk.

Regardless of nutrition, Beyond Meat's ultimate goal is sustainability, and not necessarily trying to pander to PETA and vegans in the process. If slapping dairy products on their plant-based burger means that more people will eat it over beef, it's still more eco-friendly over the alternative.

To ask Carl's Jr. to make a healthy burger is unfair, anyway. We don't go to Carl's Jr. to revive our diets, we go for comfort food that's cheap and fast. This collaboration still provides that convenience.

At the end of the day, the Beyond Famous Star is not a "healthy" new burger. It's a fatty, cheesy, salty, carb-y burger that just happens to be made without beef.

Keep those expectations realistic when making your way to the drive-thru, and you won't be disappointed when that burger goes straight to your hips, as junk food should.