AHA News interviews Camire about alternative meat

American Heart Association (AHA) News interviewed Mary Ellen Camire, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine, for the article, “Meat Alternatives Have Gone Mainstream, But How Can They Fit in Your Diet?” Plant-based meat alternatives are growing in popularity, and Nielsen data shows 98% of people who buy meat alternatives also buy meat, according to the article. Regardless of the reasons for choosing meat alternatives, consumers need to make sure they’re getting enough protein and other nutrients in their diet. “Iron from beef is very well absorbed, but plant iron not much so,” said Camire. “The big thing is vitamin B12 because you can only get that from animal products or supplements. So for some people, that is a risk factor. They may be at risk for developing anemia.” And for those who choose meat alternatives for health reasons, Camire said they should be aware of the trade-offs. “A lot of them are designed so that they are more comparable to some of the more structured proteins, but they’re a blessing and a curse. It might have as much protein as the real meat, but it probably has a lot more sodium, and it may even have more saturated fat,” she said. “It’s a little bit ironic today, when everyone is wanting clean labels, that some of these meat alternatives actually have a lot of additives in them.” Camire recommends beans and legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and soybeans as healthy alternatives to meat, because they are good sources of protein, fiber, iron and other nutrients. And as with most dietary choices, the key is to strive for balance between animal products, fruits, vegetables and other dietary choices that satisfy nutrition requirements, according to Camire. U.S. News & World Report and The Times of Northwest Indiana published the AHA News article.