For years we have heard that we should limit our intake of red meat and some nutritionist recommend getting rid of red meat all together. But is it really bad for you? From what I have found, the answer is yes and no. Most red meat as it is sold today is bad for you because cattle is raised in a form inconsistent with nature. We feed them foods that are unnatural for them and therefore change the composition of the meat. We then eat that meat and suffer the consequences.
What you may not know is that the steak you are used to eating used to be a cow that spent the first six months to a year of its life in a pasture. The cow was then transferred to a feedlot where it was fed a mix of corn, soy, grain and other supplements plus given hormones and antibiotics. Why do they do this? To get the cow to the slaughter weight a lot faster (about a year faster) than the alternative.
What is the alternative? The cow spends its entire life in the pasture and then it is slaughtered. This is known a grass-fed cow or grass-fed beef. They are not given grains and are not given hormones nor antibiotics.
Why is the grass-fed meat better for you than the grain-fed meat? For one, the grass-fed meat is naturally leaner; it has less fat per cut. Of the fat it does have, it has a healthier ratio of omega 6s to omega-3s. Without getting too technical, if the ratio exceeds 4:1, you are more likely to have health problems. Grain-fed beef has ratios of about 20:1! YIKES!! Grass-fed meat has ratios that are about 3:1. These are within the levels that promote better health and also makes grass-fed beef another good source of omega-3s.
What are some things that omega-3s help prevent? Coronary artery disease, hypertension, arthritis, and cancer to name a few. If that wasn't enough to convince you, grass-fed meat also has more antioxidants, more vitamins A & E, and twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA may have cancer fighting properties and may lower the risk of diabetes.
So, what type of meat are you going to eat? Unfortunately, grass-fed meat is ridiculously expensive. There is one way around this. You can buy it in bulk which I am doing for the first time this year. I bought a cow. Not really, I bought half a grass-fed cow from a reputable farm and they will be slaughtering, butchering, packaging, and freezing the meat for me. Instead of paying $13-26 per pound, I am paying about $5.00 for various types of cuts.
I haven't even touched the subject of processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, etc), but they are even worse as far as health is concerned. This will be the topic of another blog. In the meantime, just know that red meat grown in a way consistent with nature is not bad for you. On the contrary, it is actually good for you.
The Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed Beef Debate
Why Grassfed Animals are Better for You
"A Review of Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Beef" from the Nutrition Journal 2010
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Labels: Food and Nutrition, Health and Nutrition, Health Tips, organic, Organic Lifestyle