Burgers Now Come in Many Styles

The hamburger is one of America’s favorite foods. But it no longer means simply a ground beef patty served on a bun. Burgers are now made from a variety of ingredients and come with a myriad of toppings.

Memorial Day kicks off the grilling season and is a good time to stop and take a look at the different kinds of burgers you can toss on the grill.

While hamburgers have historically been mixed with numerous flavorings, herbs and vegetables, they were generally based on ground beef. Today, there are burgers made of ground turkey or chicken and veggie burgers made of soy products. Hearty, rich-flavored burgers can also be made with mushrooms or black beans.

Many of the new burger styles were created in response to health concerns. Studies show a strong link between eating a lot of red meat and an increased risk of colon cancer, and the high saturated fat content is a major contributor to heart disease.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends limiting red meat consumption to three ounces a day or less and choosing lean cuts. Four ounces (a quarter-pound) of meat usually cooks down to about 3 ounces.

AICR also suggests that you change your eating pattern. Even if you eat animal protein, make sure the focus of your meals is vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, which are the sole source of many health-protective phytochemicals.

The AICR recommendations reverse the traditional American meal, so that meat becomes a side dish or condiment rather than the dominant food on the plate. The Institute’s New American Plate follows these guidelines: Plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans should cover two-thirds (or more) of the plate. Fish, poultry, meat or lowfat dairy should cover one-third (or less) of the plate. The plant foods on the plate should include whole-grain foods like brown rice, kasha, whole-grain bread or pasta, and one or more vegetables or fruits.

The following recipe mixes extra-lean ground sirloin with fat-free refried beans, garlic, chili powder and jalapeno, creating a satisfying burger with a high health profile. Put the grilled burger on a whole-wheat bun with some sliced tomato and onion, plus a dab of fresh salsa, and you’ll get the summer off to a delicious, healthful start.

Chili Burgers

– Makes 4 servings


  • 1/2 lb. ground lean chuck
  • 1/3 cup canned fat-free refried beans
  • 2 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced*
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Canola oil spray


In a bowl, lightly mix together the meat and beans with a fork until well combined. Mix in the onion, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, salt and pepper. Gently form the mixture into four 4-inch patties.

Coat a baking sheet or griddle with canola oil spray and place over the grill. Cook the burgers, turning them once, 5-7 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer inserted in their centers registers 160 degrees. The burgers crumble easily, so handle them carefully, using a wide spatula. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 85 calories, 3 g. total fat (1g. saturated fat), 4 g. carbohydrate, 12 g. protein, 1 g. dietary fiber, 128 mg. sodium.

The Author:

AICR offers a Nutrition Hotline (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. This free service allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides a range of education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. It has provided more than $65 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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