Last Updated on January 14, 2020
A doctor recently broke down the facts behind Burger King’s vegan Impossible Burger, discovering that it may not be a healthier option when it comes to caloric or protein intake, and that it has a whopping 18 million times more phytoestrogen than the regular estrogen found than a standard Whopper.
Writing for TSLN.com, Dr. James Stangle explains the chemical process used to create Burger King’s Impossible Burger, and alludes to the possibility that the engineered vegetable burger may be less healthy than a regular Whopper.
Stangle starts by noting that the Impossible Burger clocks in at 630 calories “mostly from the added oils,” compared to the original Whopper’s 660.
“So, about 5% less calories, this is not a huge improvement,” wrote Stangle.
Stangle goes on to explain that the Impossible Burger’s protein, though seemingly only three grams lower than the regular Whopper, is not equal to animal protein:
The impossible whopper has 25 grams of protein. The whopper has 28 grams. Seems pretty equal, only 11% less protein in the impossible whopper. However, not all proteins are created equal. There are 20 amino acids. Nine of which are essential, meaning your body cannot make them so they are required in the diet. Each of those essential amino acids must meet a certain level to make a complete protein profile. If any essential amino acid does not hit the required amount, it is said to be rate limiting. As an analogy, picture nine chains connected in a line. All of the chains need to lift 100 pounds to carry the load. If one chain can only support 50 pounds, it doesn’t matter how much the others can support. The 50 pound chain is the rate limiting chain.
The doctor goes on to explain the process used to make the Impossible Burger have the look of meat, writing that the beef-like appearance of the vegetable-based burger is a product of genetic engineering.
According to Stangle, the red appearance of the vegetable patty comes from genetically splicing a soybean and yeast:
The bacterial enzyme that binds the nitrogen is damaged by the presence of oxygen so the bacterium makes the leghemoglobin to bind oxygen to keep it out of the way. To make enough leghemoglobin to add to the impossible whopper, scientists spliced the gene for leghemoglobin into yeast. They can grow the yeast easily and separate the leghemoglobin and add it to the impossible whopper. So the impossible whopper is technically a genetically modified organism (GMO).
Finally, the doctor explains the radically high amount of phytoestrogen featured in each burger.
“The impossible whopper has 44 mg of estrogen and the whopper has 2.5 ng of estrogen,” wrote Stangle. “That means an impossible whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper.”
Specifically, Stangle refers to phytoestrogen, separate compound from estrogen created by plants that may act similarly to estrogen when consumed by mammals.
Phytoestrogen is created by plants, while estrogen is created by mammals. However, a man did suffer from gynecomastia as a result of consuming unhealthy amounts of soy milk for a sustained period of time, in the case study over 6 months.
He went on to compare the level of phytoestrogen in the Impossible Burger to soy milk, writing that eating four of the vegetable burgers daily would result in a human male growing breasts:
Just six glasses of soy milk per day has enough estrogen to grow boobs on a male. That’s the equivalent of eating four impossible whoppers per day. You would have to eat 880 pounds of beef from an implanted steer to equal the amount of estrogen in one birth control pill.
Stangle’s estimate of four burgers per day may be low, as research indicates it may be closer to an extremely unhealthy, and potentially unrealistic, diet of 8-10 burgers per day to risk suffering from gynecomastia.
In short, the Impossible Burger is a genetically modified organism filled with calorie-dense oils that can make a man grow breasts if eaten in overwhelming quantity.
The standard Whopper, of course, is “a ¼ lb* of savory flame-grilled beef topped with juicy tomatoes, fresh lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, ketchup, crunchy pickles, and sliced white onions on a soft sesame seed bun,” according to Burger King.
Clarification: This article was updated on January 11, 2020, January 13, 2020 and January 14, 2020 to elaborate on the difference between estrogen and phytoestrogen.