Sweetness isn’t usually the first adjective that comes to mind when one thinks of meats and meat substitutes. However, as Better Homes & Gardens points out, there are plant-based meat alternatives that contain added sugars.
According to the FDA, there are several different types of added sugars. For example, if a manufacturer adds sucrose or dextrose to a food, then that food contains added sugars. Other examples of added sugars include sweeteners like table sugar, as well as the sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices, syrups, and honey. And as Harvard points out, manufacturers use added sugars not just to give their products certain flavors but also because added sugars can increase the shelf-life of food products. But as Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explains, “The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.”
So, does this mean you should avoid all plant-based meat substitutes that contain added sugars? Not necessarily. The FDA notes that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans allow for some added sugars in one’s daily diet. Still, speak with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any medical conditions that might be impacted by sugar consumption. And, of course, be a conscientious consumer and compare food products like plant-based meat substitutes to find the best ones to fit your health needs.