Australia is turning towards healthier food options with more awareness and product availability in keeping with the demand. So, it is no surprise that meat substitutes have tripled in the country in the last ten years. Now a new research studies serious health alarms like sugar, salt and fats mar these product constitutions too.
Pork- free bacon, tofu- based sausages and fake meats, were and easy sell to Australians, primarily a meat consuming country looking to change its habits. But Senior public health nutritionist Clare Farrand led a study by the George Institute for Global Health in Melbourne that warned that these processed meat products may pose a health danger with their levels of salt, sugar and fats. “Our research found that meat-free bacon has the highest average salt content followed surprisingly by falafels and meat-free sausages,” Ms. Farrand said.
On the surface, these products replace meat and come with the promise of being plant based, which augments their popularity even more among the increasingly internet informed consumers. But they are not always healthy.
The Heart Foundation is launching the study with VicHealth in September. The foundation’s chief executive Kellie-Ann Jolly said that salt is a major cause of concern in Australia, with more than six million Australians being affected with higher blood pressure issues. “We know when something says plant-based or low in something, we have the image in our heads that it’s healthier for it because it’s made from plants. But what we don’t realize, and what it doesn’t say on the front of the pack, is that it does contain salt, fat and sugar,” said Ms. Farrand.
When compared to so called “plant- based” processed food, where salt is added mainly for taste, she said that, she said that the study showed vegetarian lifestyles were not necessarily healthier if they relied on processed foods. “When you’re eating a plant-based diet that’s full of wholefoods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, this is obviously healthier,” she said.
The study also discussed the presence of other product in the processed food category, that have lesser harmful ingredients and can be encouraged for a healthier diet. The idea is to read the ingredient box behind and not get mislead by the advertising ploys used to market these products.