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Tip 419: Include Organic Grass-Fed Red Meat in Your Diet for Optimal Body Composition and Health

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 9:00 AM
Include organic grass-fed red meat in your diet for a leaner body and better health. Although studies suggest that eating grain-fed conventional red meat is a bad idea, a recent review in Nutrition Journal shows that organic grass-fed meat provides a great nutritional bang for your buck because it is packed with vitamins, omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and antioxidants.

Conventional grain-fed meat (with its hormonally active industrial chemicals derived from unnatural diets) is on the negative end of the spectrum, while organic grass-fed meat (with its fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals derived from plant grazing) is overwhelmingly positive!

The review suggests that including a wide variety of organic grass-fed or wild meats can help you improve body composition by providing an excellent protein source, “smart” fats that support insulin sensitivity, and antioxidants that enhance the immune system. In contrast, grain-fed beef is higher in the saturated fatty acids that are detrimental to cholesterol, such as myristic and palmitic acid. Grass-fed beef, in contrast, has more stearic acid, which has been shown to be “neutral” for cholesterol. Plus, its overall saturated fat composition is favorable since grass-fed beef has less intramuscular fat and less fat marbling so that the total cholesterol concentration goes down.

One of the best things about grass-fed beef is that it is very high in CLA, a potent anti-carcinogen, whereas grain-fed beef contains less than a third of the CLA of grass-fed. In order for CLA to work its cancer-preventing magic, you need to get at least 1 gram a day, and results show fat loss is possible due to CLA supplementation of 3 to 6 grams a day. In addition to CLA, grass-fed beef has a much higher content of omega-3 fats and a better omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio than grain-fed.

Just as beneficial for health is the high content of glutathione in grass-fed meat. Glutathione is an amino acid composite that is enormously effective at quenching free radicals and protecting you from DNA and cell damage that causes cancer. Grass-fed beef and organic ham have some of the highest glutathione content of all foods, surpassed only by fresh vegetables such as asparagus. In addition, grass-fed beef provides enzymes that enhance the body’s natural ability to produce glutathione and fight all forms of stress that cause disease.

Take away the understanding that what goes for grass-fed beef is generally similar for other organic and wild meats including lamb, goat, elk, venison, and moose. Actual fat, antioxidant, and vitamin values will vary, but you can safely include these meats in your diet if they are from organic or wild sources. The confusion about the health value of meat comes from the inability of many of the negative studies to point out that the red meat that study participants have been eating is often highly processed, and if not, it is conventional, grain-fed and packed with hormones.

As Dr. Sean Lucan pointed out in a letter to the editor published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it may be “less about whether meat is red than about what the animal was fed or how it was bred,” that is causing ill health, disease, and all these negative media reports about red med. Factory-farmed beef and organic pastured beef are drastically different. Lucan writes that “the former comes from animals raised on mixtures of genetically modified corn, chicken manure, antibiotics, hormones, and ground-up parts of other animal,” whereas the latter comes “from animals raised on grasses and other vegetation.”

It is a no-brainer that you need to avoid factory farmed meat at all costs. Just include organic, grass-fed and wild meats in your diet, especially for breakfast, and you will have better body composition and health. For meal ideas, check out the Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast article, and know that anytime we are talking about meat in the Poliquin world, we mean organic grass-fed or wild meat!
Lucan, Sean. That It’s Red? Or What it Was Fed/How it Was Bred? The Risk of Meat. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012. 96(2), 446.

Daley, C., Abbott, A., et al. A Review of Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-Fed and Grain-fed Beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010. 9(10).

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