May 18, 2024
Plant-Based Foods

Unveiling the True Health Profile of Plant-Based Foods in Australian Supermarkets

When it comes to choosing plant-based options at the supermarket, the plethora of choices can be overwhelming. From plant-based burgers to non-dairy milk, the selection can be extensive. But how healthy are these products really?

A recent nutritional analysis of over 700 plant-based foods available in Australian supermarkets has shed light on their health profiles. The study, conducted in 2022 across Melbourne, involved visiting multiple major supermarket chains to gather information on plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.

Researchers took detailed photos of the products and analyzed their nutrition labels. The study focused on a variety of plant-based foods, including meat substitutes, legumes, dairy milk substitutes, cheese substitutes, and non-dairy yogurts.

One of the key findings of the study was the significant variation in the nutritional content of plant-based meats. High levels of sodium, known to contribute to high blood pressure, were a major concern. The sodium content ranged from 1 milligram per 100 grams in tofu to a staggering 2,000mg per 100g in certain plant-based mince products – equivalent to the recommended daily intake in just one serving.

Comparing the results to previous audits conducted in 2014 and 2019 revealed a consistent trend of plant-based meats becoming saltier over time.

On a positive note, the study found that 70% of the plant-based milks analyzed were fortified with calcium, a crucial nutrient for bone health. This marks an improvement from a 2019–2020 audit, where only 43% of plant-based milks were found to be fortified with calcium. Furthermore, almost three-quarters of the fortified milks contained the recommended amount of calcium per serving.

However, when it came to saturated fat content, coconut-based milks stood out with up to six times higher levels compared to almond, oat, or soy milks. Previous audits have also highlighted coconut-based milks as being significantly higher in saturated fat compared to other milk alternatives.

The study underscores the importance of carefully examining the nutritional content of plant-based foods to make informed choices for a healthy diet. Consumers are advised to pay attention to factors such as sodium and saturated fat content when selecting plant-based products. With the growing popularity of plant-based options, ensuring their nutritional quality is essential for promoting overall health and well-being.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it