Meatloaf Recipes Comparison

Meatloaf Recipes Comparison by Sarah Anderson

The first meatloaf I ever made was from a recipe called Brown Sugar Meatloaf. The next time I made it, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef in order to make it a little healthier. But even with this substitution, this recipe did not seem very healthy. Over time I created my own turkey meatloaf recipe. I used oats instead of breadcrumbs following the advice of a friend, added green bell pepper because I like its flavor, added lentils because I was trying to add more legumes to my diet, and made other changes. The recipe is listed below.

Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients:
1.25 lbs ground turkey
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup French Green lentils
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup stewed tomatoes

Directions:
1. Boil lentils in ¾ cup water for 30 minutes over medium-low heat. Add more water as needed.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan with vegetable oil or olive oil.
4. Combine all of the ingredients except the stewed tomatoes in a large bowl and mix well.
5. Put the ingredients from the bowl into the pan. Spread the stewed tomatoes on top.
6. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

My recipe, Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf, seemed to be a healthier alternative to the Brown Sugar Meatloaf, but I had not calculated the differences in nutrients. The table below shows some of the nutritional differences per serving among the Brown Sugar Meatloaf, Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf, and Veronica’s Veggie Mealoaf with Checca Sauce (a vegetarian meatloaf). I used Diet Analysis Plus online version 8.0 to approximate some of the nutritional information per serving of each loaf. I included the nutrients that differed the most among the three recipes and that seem to have greater potential to impact diets and health for adults in the United States. Following the table, I discuss some of the possible health effects of these nutritional differences using Understanding Nutrition (Whitney, Rolfes, 2008) as a reference.

Meatloaf Nutrition Table


Protein:

High protein intakes, especially from animal protein, can be damaging. Excess protein can increase calcium excretion, which can harm bone health. Excess protein from animal sources might increase the risk of developing heart disease and some cancers. Animal protein tends to be high in saturated fat, which might explain these higher risks.
Ground beef comprises 86% of the total protein per serving in the Brown Sugar Meatloaf. The ground beef also provides about 5.2 g of saturated fat per serving. Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf provides more total protein per serving than the Brown Sugar Meatloaf but less saturated fat. Ground turkey comprises 79% of the total protein in Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf but provides 3.2 g of saturated fat per serving. Brown rice is the most significant source of protein in Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf, comprising about 37% of the total protein per serving. The brown rice in one serving of Veronica’s Veggie Meat provides about 0.03 g saturated fat.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol:

As seen in the table above, the Brown Sugar Meatloaf provides about 43 percent of the Daily Value of cholesterol for adults ages 19-50 and 6 grams of saturated fat. Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf provides more cholesterol than the Brown Sugar Meatloaf, about 54 percent of the Daily Value for cholesterol adults ages 19-50, but less saturated fat, about 4 grams. Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf provides the least amount of cholesterol, about 18 percent of the Daily Value for cholesterol adults ages 19-50, and 4 grams of saturated fat. Saturated fat can be harmful to one’s health because it increases one’s blood cholesterol levels. Both saturated fat and dietary cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol. High blood cholesterol levels increase the risk of developing heart disease.

Dietary Fiber:

As seen in the table, the Brown Sugar Meatloaf does not provide much dietary fiber, whereas Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf and Veronica’s Veggies Meatloaf provide greater amounts of dietary fiber. Eating soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol, reducing the risk of developing heart disease. Soluble fibers bind with bile acids, increasing the rate of their excretion. Then the liver uses cholesterol to make new bile acids, lowering blood cholesterol.
Fibers from vegetables protect gastrointestinal tract health by helping the body more easily eliminate waste. Fiber protects against hemorrhoids, appendicitis, and diverticula. And fiber can help reduce the risks of developing colon and rectal cancers.

Vitamin C:

As seen in the table, Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf and Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf provide relatively high amounts of vitamin C, but the Brown Sugar Meatloaf does not provide much vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for many important functions including collagen formation (needed for bones, teeth, artery walls, scar tissue), minimizing free radical damage, iron absorption from non-heme iron, and making hormones.

Folate:

Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf provides the greatest amount of folate compared to the other two loaves. Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf provides less folate than Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf but more than the Brown Sugar Meatloaf. Folate helps make RNA and DNA, and so it is needed for new cell growth. Folate might help prevent heart disease by breaking down the amino acid homocysteine. Folate might also help prevent cancer. And folate is particularly important during the early stages of pregnancy because it can help reduce the risk of developing neural tube defects.

Sodium:

As seen in the table, the Brown Sugar Meatloaf provides more two times the amount of sodium as from Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf and Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf. High sodium and salt intakes correlate with high blood pressure. Reducing salt intake can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease.

Overall:

Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf and Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf probably have a more positive effect on nutrition and health than the Brown Sugar Meatloaf. Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf might be the most healthy option because its protein comes from vegetables sources, not animal sources. All of these recipes could be improved to provide better benefits. Some examples are eggs whites could be substituted for the eggs in all of these recipes in order to lower cholesterol; the added salt could be eliminated; more vegetables could be added to the Brown Sugar Meatloaf and Sarah’s Turkey Meatloaf; part-skim mozzarella cheese could be substituted for the whole-milk mozzarella cheese in Veronica’s Veggie Meatloaf.

Reference:

Whitney, E. & Rolfes, S.R. (2008). Understanding Nutrition (11th ed.) Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

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