Why Grassfed Animal Products Are Better For You
As you know, all food fats are a blend of the different types, saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats include poly- and monounsaturated fats. Omega-3s and 6s are types of polyunsaturated fats, called essential because we have to get them from food, our bodies can’t manufacture them from other fats.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Commencing in the late 1970s a few medical journals started reporting on Omega-3 fatty acids. Thus launched the beginning of what has now resulted in literally tens of thousands of peer-reviewed research reports that show, indicate, and prove the positive role Omega-3 fatty acids play in body function. Yet in spite of the many thousands of research reports that detail how critical the balance of essential fatty acids (EFAs) is for health, the very important aspect of actually understanding what has been learned about fats is lost on the modern medical profession, most nutritionists, the media, and nearly all of the nutritional commentary everyone reads in books and on Web sites. Sadly, medical doctors are notorious for knowing no more about nutrition than what you’d read about in the Sunday Supplement. That’s why they never really cure chronic diseases, but only allow people to live with them using drugs and operations as crutches.
In response to this mega-misunderstanding this first article in our series of Omega-3 Essays will lay the ground work for helping you break loose of the conventional wisdom and be one of the few people in our country that actually ends up understanding what all the hoopla is about Omega-3 fatty acids.
In the publication American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos said in 1991 that modern “western diets are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids compared with the diet on which humans developed and their genetic patterns were established.”
In the same report, it was stated that “Today we know that Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease, hypertension, arthritis, other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, and cancer.”
In summary, Dr. Simopoulos wrote: “Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are not interconvertible in the human body and are important components of practically all cell membranes. Whereas cellular proteins are genetically determined, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) composition of all cell membranes is to a great extent dependent on the dietary intake. Therefore appropriate amounts of dietary Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids need to be considered in making dietary recommendations, and these two classes of PUFAs should be distinguished because they are metabolically and functionally distinct and have opposing physiological functions. Their balance is important for homeostasis and normal development.”
Where the fatty acids come from is important. Dr. Simopoulos states that “Omega-6 fatty acids are represented by linoleic acid (LA) and Omega-3 fatty acids by “-linolenic acid (LNA). LA is plentiful in nature and is found in the seeds of most plants except coconut, cocoa, and palm. LNA on the other hand is found in the chloroplast of green leafy vegetables.”
Man’s Diet Takes Big Turn
Dr. Simopoulos continued: “On the basis of estimates from studies in Paleolithic nutrition and modern-day hunter-gatherer populations, humans evolved on a diet that was much lower in saturated fatty acids than is today’s diet. Furthermore, the diet contained small but roughly equal amounts of Omega-6 and Omega-3 PUFAs.”
In the past 100 years there has been a rapid and unprecedented change in man’s diet. The modern vegetable oil industry was developed, and it is based on oil from seeds rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. Modern agriculture increased production by emphasizing grain feeds for domestic livestock, and grains are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. Therefore, aggressive, industrialized agricultural management techniques have decreased the Omega-3 fatty acid content in many foods: “green leafy vegetables, animal meats, eggs, and even fish.”
This imbalance where Omega-6 fatty acid levels exceed Omega-3 fatty acid levels can be seen by comparing wild edible plants and wild animals and birds with products of modern agriculture. Products of modern agriculture frequently have drastically lower Omega-3 fatty acid levels. It is estimated that man evolved with an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of one to one from both meat and vegetable sources. This is also true for the entire animal kingdom and is the reason why proper body function (for all animal life) is so dependent on the proper balance of essential fatty acids in the foods they eat. Today the modern processed vegetable sources have an estimated ratio of 10 to one. The modern diet of meat, fish, chicken, and vegetable oils has a ratio estimated to be 20 or 25 to one!
With Dr. Norman Salem, Jr., Dr. Simopoulos also wrote an article in The New England Journal of Medicine about Omega-3 fatty acids in chicken eggs that gives producers of beef for the American consumer something to ponder over. His comments certainly suggest that not only are we what we eat, but so are our livestock.
Of Eggs and Bison
“In 1986, we published our findings on purslane, indicating that it is the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids of any green leafy vegetable yet examined.
“On the Ampelistra farm in Greece, purslane is plentiful and grows wild; the chickens make a feast of it, along with insects and lots of fresh green grass, supplemented with fresh and dried figs, barley flour, and small amounts of corn. We were therefore interested in the Omega-3 fatty acid content of the eggs from these hens. As we expected, the eggs contained substantial amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.”
The Greek egg had a Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 1.3 to one whereas the “supermarket egg” had a ratio of 19.4 to one.
The article went on to describe how modern agriculture’s emphasis on increased production has led to the development of chicken feed that is being reflected in the out-of-balance ratio of fatty acids in the “supermarket egg.”
North Dakota State University conducted a study on the nutritional differences between nearly grass-fed and grain-fed bison. The results of that study closely followed that of the egg studies. The “nearly grass-fed” bison had Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios of 4.0 to one, and the grain-fed bison had ratios of 21 to one.
In 1998 the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada published their study on the effects of forage versus grain feeding on the fatty acid composition of cattle. Cattle fed grain for 120 days (40 fewer days than typical for feedlot cattle) had Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios of 11 to one. Forage-fed (alfalfa hay) cattle had Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios of 3 to one. Additional studies by others clearly show that the longer cattle are fed grain, the greater the fatty acid imbalance. For instance, after 200 days in the feedlot grain-fed cattle have Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios that exceed 20 to one! Many cattle are fed 200 days or more in the United States. The typical stay in a feedlot is about 160 days.
With the scientific data that has been published concerning Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, we must assume grass-fed beef is far better for human nutrition than grain-fed beef because it replicates the food of the Hunter Gatherer or Caveman. If so, then having access to grass-fed beef can be very beneficial for one’s health. And since our grass-fed beef has been raised naturally, without artificial hormones, and without having been fed antibiotics during the final phase of their lives, they have added psychological benefits.
American consumers are becoming ever more conscious of their environment. They also are becoming more conscious about what they eat. Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats wants to be in the forefront in answering the consumers’ legitimate health concerns. So, we raise and market grass-fed beef the natural, old-fashioned way.
Plus here in our Omega-3 Essay section of our Web site we provide numerous articles clarifying what is and is not the proper way to eat for optimizing one’s health.
Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats
Why are Omega 3 Fatty Acids Important For Your Health?
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of:
- coronary artery disease
- other inflammatory and autoimmune disorder
Grass Fed Beef, a Major Source of Omega 3 fats
When we switch from grainfed to grassfed meat, then, we are simply returning to the diet of our long-ago ancestors, the diet that is most in harmony with our physiology. Every cell and every system of our bodies will function better when we eat products from animals raised on grass.
- Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef.
- Omega 3s in beef that feed on grass is 7% of the total fat content, compared to 1% in grain-only fed beef.
- Grass-fed beef has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (3:1.)
- Grass-fed beef is loaded with other natural minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a fat that reduces the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.
- Beef, in its natural grass-fed state, is a health food of the highest order.
What CLA is?
CLA is a newly discovered good fat called “conjugated linoleic acid” that may be a potent cancer fighter. In animal studies, very small amounts of CLA have blocked all three stages of cancer: 1) initiation, 2) promotion, and 3) metastasis. Most anti-cancer agents block only one of these stages. What’s more, CLA has slowed the growth of an unusually wide variety of tumors, including cancers of the skin, breast, prostate, and colon. (1)
Human CLA research is in its infancy, but a few studies have suggested that CLA may have similar benefits in people. A recent survey determined that women with the most CLA in their diets had a 60 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer. (2)
Where do you get CLA? Many people take a synthetic version that is widely promoted as a diet aid and muscle builder. New research shows that the type of CLA in the pills may have some potentially serious side effects, including promoting insulin resistance, raising glucose levels, and reducing HDL (good) cholesterol. (3)
Few people realize that CLA is also found in nature, and this natural form does not have any known negative side effects. The most abundant source of natural CLA is the meat and dairy products of grassfed animals. Research conducted since 1999 shows that grazing animals have from 3-5 times more CLA than animals fattened on grain in a feedlot. Simply switching from grainfed to grassfed products can greatly increase your intake of CLA. (4)
Source / References:
1. Ip, C., J. A. Scimeca, et al. (1994). “Conjugated linoleic acid. A powerful anticarcinogen from animal fat sources.” Cancer 74(3 Suppl): 1050-4.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a mixture of positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid, which is found preferentially in dairy products and meat. Preliminary studies indicate that CLA is a powerful anticarcinogen in the rat mammary tumor model with an effective range of 0.1-1% in the diet. This protective effect of CLA is noted even when exposure is limited to the time of weaning to carcinogen administration. The timing of this treatment corresponds to maturation of the mammary gland to the adult stage, suggesting that CLA may have a direct effect in reducing the cancer risk of the target organ. Of the vast number of naturally occurring substances that have been demonstrated to have anticarcinogenic activity in experimental models, all but a handful of them are of plant origin. Conjugated linoleic acid is unique because it is present in food from animal sources, and its anticancer efficacy is expressed at concentrations close to human consumption levels.
2. Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V. Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. “Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women.” s 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7.)
3. Riserus, U., P. Arner, et al. (2002). “Treatment with dietary trans10cis12 conjugated linoleic acid causes isomer-specific insulin resistance in obese men with the metabolic syndrome.” Diabetes Care 25(9): 1516-21.
OBJECTIVE: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a group of dietary fatty acids with antiobesity and antidiabetic effects in some animals. The trans10cis12 (t10c12) CLA isomer seems to cause these effects, including improved insulin sensitivity. Whether such isomer-specific effects occur in humans is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate whether t10c12 CLA or a commercial CLA mixture could improve insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, or body composition in obese men with signs of the metabolic syndrome. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, abdominally obese men (n = 60) were treated with 3.4 g/day CLA (isomer mixture), purified t10c12 CLA, or placebo. Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp, serum hormones, lipids, and anthropometry were assessed before and after 12 weeks of treatment. RESULTS: Baseline metabolic status was similar between groups. Unexpectedly, t10c12 CLA increased insulin resistance (19%; P < 0.01) and glycemia (4%; P < 0.001) and reduced HDL cholesterol (-4%; P < 0.01) compared with placebo, whereas body fat, sagittal abdominal diameter, and weight decreased versus baseline, but the difference was not significantly different from placebo. The CLA mixture did not change glucose metabolism, body composition, or weight compared with placebo but lowered HDL cholesterol (-2%; P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal important isomer-specific metabolic actions of CLA in abdominally obese humans. A CLA-induced insulin resistance has previously been described only in lipodystrophic mice. Considering the use of CLA-supplements among obese individuals, it is important to clarify the clinical consequences of these results, but they also provide physiological insights into the role of specific dietary fatty acids as modulators of insulin resistance in humans.
4. Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56.
Conjugated linoleic acid in milk was determined from cows fed different diets. In Experiment 1, cows were fed either normal or high oil corn and corn silage. Conjugated linoleic acid was 3.8 and 3.9 mg/g of milk fatty acids in normal and high oil treatments, respectively. In Experiment 2, cows consumed one-third, two-thirds, or their entire feed from a permanent pasture. Alfalfa hay and concentrates supplied the balance of feed for the one-third and two-third pasture treatments. Conjugated linoleic acid was 8.9, 14.3, and 22.1 mg/g of milk fatty acids in the one-third, two-third, and all pasture treatments, respectively.
Cows grazing pasture and receiving no supplemental feed had 500% more conjugated linoleic acid in milk fat than cows fed typical dairy diets.
Sheep are the CLA winners
Dr. Gerhard Jahreis from the Institut Ernaehrung und Umwelt in Germany has studied the CLA content of human milk and milk from a variety of animals. He reports that horses have the lowest CLA content and sheep the highest. Human milk is in the middle. (Mare’s milk < sow’s milk < human milk < goat’s milk < cow’s milk < ewe’s milk.)
There are fewer than 100 sheep dairy farms in the United States (we imported 66 million pounds of sheep’s milk cheese in 1994, valued at $118 million.) With this new finding about CLA, perhaps more US farmers will consider milking sheep.
Turkeys make CLA, too
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is highest in products from grazing animals on a diet of fresh pasture, and it is very low in non-ruminants such as chickens and pigs. But turkeys appear to be an exception, having about 2.5 mg of CLA per gram of fat. (For comparison, chickens have 0.9 and pigs 0.6 mg. per gram of fat.) To date, no one has tested the CLA content of turkeys raised on pasture rather than in confinement, an experiment that begs to be done. It is possible that turkeys with a significant amount of greens in their diet will have even more CLA.
Grass fed products supply much needed vitamin E
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control recently determined the vitamin E status of 16,000 American men and women. Twenty-percent per cent of white Americans, 41 per cent of African Americans, and 28 per cent of Mexican Americans were deficient in vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiencies have been linked with diabetes, immune disorders, AIDS, muscle damage in exercise, Parkinson’s disease, eye diseases, and lung and liver diseases. As you can see by several of the posts below, switching to the products of animals raised on grass (which is far richer in vitamin E than grain) would help prevent this widespread deficiency. (Ford, Earl S. and Sowell, Anne. “Serum alpha-tocopherol status in the United States population: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 150, August 1, 1999, pp. 290-300.)