Is There Such a Thing as a Heart-Healthy Cheeseburger?

by Susan Schachter, MSRDN June 07, 2021 2 min read

Is There Such a Thing as a Heart-Healthy Cheeseburger?

I know this hurts, but... no.

Now, that said, those of you who read previous editions of The Circulatory probably know that I am someone who believes that there is no “real food” that needs to be completely eliminated from our diet. Eating is nourishment for our bodies and our spirits. When we eat certain foods, we have neurotransmitters that are related to pleasure released into our system. Sometimes—as is the case with a sugar and fat combination—these neurotransmitters are released as soon as the food hits our tongue. Why? There were times in our evolutionary history when we might not have had access to food for many days at a time. Our bodies developed a very powerful reward system, so that when we did see available food, we would go after it and consume it! Our brains have not yet adapted to the reality that most of us do not experience that type of extreme scarcity. This is one of the reasons so many of us struggle to lose or maintain our weight.

So, an occasional cheeseburger isn’t heart-healthy, but it is okay to have. Occasionally. I am going to push you a bit here. I do wholeheartedly suggest that, if you have the option, you eat a burger made from grass-fed beef.  The fatty acid profile is different than factory-farmed beef. It’s better: it’s just a fact. According to the Mayo Clinic, “the difference in the diets of the cattle changes the nutrients and fats you get from eating the different types of beef.” Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids (like the healthy fat in olive oil, walnuts etc.) and lower in saturated fat. It’s also higher in Vitamins B, A, and E, all of which have antioxidant properties.

I’m also reminded of a term used by author Michael Pollan in one of his many books about food, aptly titled Food Rules. In the book, he discusses the importance of avoiding “food-like substances”, not “eating foods that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as a food”, and “not eating foods that have ingredients that a third grader can’t pronounce”. In other words, DON’T EAT FAST FOOD CHEESEBURGERS! My recommendation regarding how often one should eat those is never.

Restaurant cheeseburgers are high in saturated fat and sodium. Fast food cheeseburgers are extremely high in saturated fat and sodium... and synthetic chemicals. When consumed with any frequency, this combination can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk for heart disease.

I offer this up to you because I believe in making choices guided by knowledge. Make your choices, and keep them in line with your goals... most of the time, at least!

Here’s to your health!

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