Last Reviewed: June 25, 2019
You might hear the words best healthy hamburger and have your bullshit alarm immediately kick into overdrive.
And I get it.
Hamburgers are often considered the ultimate cheat meal. Delicious, greasy, and heart-warming, they are a personal favorite of many (myself included, of course) – and they are rarely considered healthy.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t be.
By making some smart ingredient choices, you can create some genuinely delicious hamburgers that also happen to be extremely healthy.
Are Hamburgers Good for You?
This question is a bit of a tough one. You see, like most questions that get asked in the health and fitness industry, it has the delightfully frustrating answer – it depends.
It depends on what specific ingredients they contain. On how you cooked them and what you cook them in. It depends on who makes them, and that person’s personal preferences. It just depends.
So, if I try and come up with a half-decent answer to this straightforward question: some hamburgers can be good for you, while others should not make it within a meter of your mouth.
What are the Benefits of Eating Hamburger?
When it comes to the benefits of eating a hamburger, I am going to strictly discuss the benefits of eating a good quality hamburger (such as those listed below). These hamburgers use high-quality ingredients that have undergone minimal processing and were prepared using minimal oil.
The health benefits of such burgers include:
- Providing you with a number of essential nutrients
- Serving up a portion high-quality protein
- Giving your body a good dose of healthy fats
Hamburgers and Important Nutrients
Hamburgers that are made using high-quality ground meat contain the key minerals iron and zinc, as well a heap of B group vitamins (particularly niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12). All of these micronutrients are really important for your health!
Iron assists in the maintenance of blood health. Zinc is absolutely integral to the health and function of the immune system. Vitamin B12 helps maintain optimal nervous system function, and niacin and vitamin B6 play key roles in energy production.
By providing you with healthy amounts of these key nutrients, hamburgers can help ensure the health and function of your whole body!
Hamburgers and Protein
Protein is one of your three key macronutrients. While the other two — carbohydrates and fats — are mostly used for energy, protein is mostly used as ‘building blocks’. It is used to create almost everything in your body.
And when I say everything, I really do mean everything.
Protein provides the building blocks for cells, body tissues, hormones, and all the various enzymes found throughout your body. As a result, by supporting adequate protein intake, hamburgers can help support normal function.
As an added bonus, protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients – meaning that it makes you feel fuller. In fact, it has actually been suggested to assist in weight loss by reducing unnecessary snacking throughout the day.
So, while you might find it hard to believe that the words “hamburgers” and “weight loss” fit in the same sentence, I’m here to tell you that they just might.
Hamburgers and Healthy Fats
And, finally, many people will tell you that hamburger meat is full of fat.
And, for the most part, they are right!
But what they ‘forget’ to tell you is that the red meat found within hamburger patties are full to the brim with a specific monounsaturated fatty acid known as oleic acid.
Oleic acid also appears in olive oil in high amounts, and is the sole reason that olive oil has gained the reputation of being a ‘healthy fat’.
Studies clearly show that the consumption of oleic acid can cause large changes in blood cholesterol levels. Oleic acid increases HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) and decreases LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol).
Hamburgers = heart healthy? Who would have thought!
Top 5 Best Healthy Hamburger Recipes
And now, without any further ado, my top 5 healthy hamburger recipes, as provided by some of the most knowledgeable cooks in the health industry! Each of these are completely unique, and offer an excellent option in their own right. I hope you enjoy!
This hamburger is quite unique as it does not include any processed carbohydrates — it uses lettuce leaves in place of the buns! Combine this with high-quality ground beef and you have the perfect option for those following a ketogenic diet or a low-carb way of eating.
And for those who aren’t necessarily trying to follow a low carb diet? You shouldn’t feel bad about banishing the bun. Processed carbohydrates, like typical hamburger buns, are associated with an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Removing them from the burger makes it an even healthier option, keto diet or not!
To top it off, this delicious burger is also super simple to make! Hamburger patty, cheese, a bed of lettuce and a quick, easy salsa are all you need to create this low-carb treat!
Related: The Keto Diet and Fat Loss
This grilled hamburger by Once Upon a Chef is one of my personal favorites. Seriously, this simple grilled burger uses high-quality ingredients to take this whole ‘healthy burgers’ thing to the next level.
Using a unique combination of low-fat ground beef (rather than the typical high-fat meat), low-fat milk, and scallions (rather than regular onions), these burger patties offer a slight twist on many of my more traditional burger recipes.
Not only do the milk and scallions add a unique flavor, the low-fat beef gives these burgers a health-factor boost. Low-fat beef has fewer calories and less saturated fat than its high-fat counterpart, making it better for your heart and your waistline!
This is the perfect healthy option for those who love a simple, healthy, flame-grilled burger – period.
This Weight Watchers Hamburger by Genius Kitchen offers a relatively low energy option that tastes absolutely amazing. This is seriously perfect for those looking to enjoy a great quality hamburger and keep their energy intake down at the same time.
In a very similar vein of thought to the Grilled Burger, this hamburger uses 93% lean ground beef in place of more traditional, fattier options. This causes a large drop in the burger’s saturated fat content, and reduces its calories. Combine this with reduced-calorie burger buns, and you have a low-calorie option that is ideal for those looking for a delicious hamburger that won’t make a huge dent in their calorie count for the day.
One of my favorite things about this burger is how simple it is to make. Using only a select few simple, yet high-quality ingredients, this hamburger requires minimal preparation and takes next to no time to cook!
While, up to this point, I’ve focused on the health benefits of meat-based hamburgers, I also appreciate that many of you may not eat meat for ethical reasons. Therefore, I wanted to give you a great healthy vegan hamburger option that also tastes amazing!
The patty’s made entirely from lentils, which provide you with a heap of healthy nutrients, including iron, zinc, and the B-group vitamins (much like meat-based patties!) combined with an abundance of fiber. Fiber has been shown to cause large improvement in digestive health, while also impacting heart health in a very positive manner.
With this in mind, this burger is perfect for those looking to decrease their meat intake, those following a no-meat way of eating, or for those simply looking for a seriously unique, delicious, and healthy hamburger recipe.
My final option comes from Kim’s Cravings, which provides you a perhaps the quirkiest take on the traditional hamburger – that’s right, a hamburger bowl. These hamburger bowls replace buns with potatoes to create an amazingly healthy dish that really satisfies both your hamburger cravings and your nutritional needs.
By removing any processed carbohydrates, this hamburger bowl has a much lighter metabolic load (that’s nutritional-science-speak for “it causes a smaller blood sugar spike”), and foods with lighter metabolic loads offer an abundance of health benefits (reduced risk of diabetes anyone?).
Additionally, the potatoes used to replace the processed carbohydrates in this recipe are full to the brim with vitamins and minerals (including vitamin C and B6, magnesium, and phosphorus) that play key health-supporting roles throughout the entire body.
This interesting take on the traditional hamburger is a genuinely healthy option — and one my taste buds strongly recommend!
Take Home Message
Hamburgers don’t have to be unhealthy! By choosing the right ingredients, and making them yourself using proper cooking techniques, hamburgers can be an extremely healthy option.
Well-made hamburgers provide a number of essential nutrients, a solid portion of protein, and an abundance of healthy fats. All of these can go a long way to maintaining health and function.
The five healthy hamburger recipes listed in this article are what I believe to be some of the best on the planet. I truly hope you enjoy them!