Monday, May 11, 2009

Grass-Fed Beef

So I know that "being healthy" can seem daunting. And I know that it can be overwhelming. I deliberately try to keep this blog simple and encouraging because most moms I have talked with want to take small steps... and their families want them to make changes slow enough that they don't notice either!

While there is definitely a place for drastic change, my blog exists to keep busy moms learning new ideas AND moving progressively. All that being said, there are some big changes that deserve consideration. Today I'll discuss one of these bigger health steps... buying grass-fed meat products. Resist the temptation to say "we could never do that!" Read my post. Give it some thought. Digest the information. Take it one step at a time!

So, grass-fed meat. What's the big deal about regular meat? Why not just buy the Walmart specials. Well, completely setting aside irradiation and other meat preservation methods, completely setting aside the dangers of E. Coli or mad cow disease, completely setting aside the dangers of genetically modified feed... let's just look at how grain- and other strange-product-fed beef effects our health.

Did you know that the fatty acid profile of commercial meats is drastically different than grass-fed varieties? And, did you know that when a cow is penned up, the muscle, the meaty portion that we eat, becomes different as well? Unfortunately, feedlot beef is not a good thing.

We hear a lot about the dangers of eating too much red meat. So many of these health hazards are man's own doing. You see, cows were designed to roam and to eat lots of green grass. When they are raised on a modern feed lot, penned up and given grain or other by-products for food, they are like cow couch potatoes. They loose quality muscle; they put on the not-so-great kind of fat. Did you know that feedlot beef has 50% more saturated fat than pastured beef? Sadly, commercial beef contains the kind of stick-to-your-arteries fat we want to stay away from.

In addition to the increase in saturated beef found in feedlot cattle, the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid ratio is shown to be skewed. So, while we want a diet with Omega 3s and Omega 6s in a close ratio, America's diets are most often between 1:15 and 1:50. This is largely due to a lack of Omega 3 fatty acids and a staggering amount of Omega 6 fatty acids in feedlot beef. Beef from cattle allowed to graze on pasture is loaded with Omega 3s and CLA, which are both known to support heart health and reduce inflammation.

So, yes, feedlot beef is really bad for our hearts! It is really bad for our waistlines! However, properly raised beef has a healthy ratio of fatty acids and is naturally leaner. Like with boxed cereal, this is something I just think you should know... not that it is pleasant to be the bearer of bad news.

Just a side note: We have been vegetarians in the past. Then we added in some high quality, grass-fed meat products, and we noticed a significant benefit. However, we consume meat in moderation, and fill up our daily fare with LOTS of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains.

For further information on this topic, please visit this very informative site. Also, while I find Mercola's Grass-Fed Beef a bit pricey, here is his very helpful explanation. And, this Healthy Child page will give a great summary on the benefits of grass fed beef for your children. (The site will also link you to a scientific page.) I have just been able to touch on the subject here, but these websites do a very good job explaining things!


Jean Joiner said...

Wow! AE..your blog is really taking off! I love reading it periodically. I did buy natural peanut butter today for the first time...small step for me. Thanks for passing on all your wisdom!

maternal pride said...

Thanks, that is something I never thought of. I've been really bored with chicken, as I've been eating beef less often. This helps.