For the first time, a meat alternative product has received the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) Heart-Check Mark, meaning it meets criteria to deem the plant-based meat product as a heart-healthy food.
Beyond Meat’s product Beyond Steak gained the certification, which requires products to meet certain targets such as being low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium as well as containing over 10% of the recommended Daily Value of at least one of six essential nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, protein, iron, calcium and fiber.
The Beyond Steak product contains 21 grams of protein and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving and doesn’t contain cholesterol. Beyond Meat also noted that Beyond Steak is a non-GMO product and does not contain added antibiotics or hormones.
The AHA said that eating less meat can be beneficial to health, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, many types of cancer and other health problems. However, it also warned that subbing meat with a diet heavy in “highly processed meat substitutes” isn’t ideal. Instead, consumers should focus on eating veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and other protein sources, like tofu, beans and legumes.
Still, the new Heart-Check certification for Beyond Steak shows promise in the development of plant-based products that, when enjoyed in moderation, can contribute to a healthful diet.
“The Heart-Check mark is a simple tool to help you Eat Smart. When you see it, you can be confident that a product aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for an overall healthy eating pattern,” the association said on its website.
A 2022 study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found that daily consumption of meat, particularly red meat, was linked to a higher risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). In a separate study, which the authors noted was funded by Beyond Meat, participants who swapped meat for plant-based meat products for 8 weeks experienced improved cardiovascular disease risk factors, including LDL cholesterol levels and trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).
“For nearly 100 years, the American Heart Association has been helping people live longer, healthier lives. As part of that legacy, the Heart-Check Mark has become a gold standard in empowering consumers to make informed health decisions,” Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat, said in a statement.
“With this recognition, Beyond Steak becomes part of a group of certified and trusted foods that everyone can enjoy with the confidence that they are making a great decision for their health,” Brown added.