Grass Fed Beef Advantage: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Recent studies indicate that people with diets rich in Omega-3’s are less likely to have high blood pressure or irregular heart rhythms and are half as likely to die from a heart attack or stroke. They may also be less vulnerable to cancer.
The American diet is greatly deficient in Omega-3’s. Only 40% of Americans consume adequate levels of these essential fatty acids. These fats (EFA’s) are formed in the green leaves (specifically the chloroplasts) of plants. When an animal grazes on greens, its diet is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Pasture raised grass-finished beef has three to six times more Omega-3 fatty acids than grain-finished beef. However, every day that an animal is in feedlot confinement its reserve of Omega-3 fatty acids diminishes.
About midway through the 20th century Americans switched from eating grass-finished meat to grain-finished meat resulting in a diet that is high in saturated fat and low in Omega-3’s. The incidence of cancer and heart disease has steadily increased and has been confusingly attributed to eating beef. It is not the beef, but how it has been raised and fed, that is the culprit.
The Story About CLA
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is found in animal fat. Research is currently being conducted on this little understood nutrient. This research is already indicating that CLA consumption has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of other immune disorders. CLA converts body fat to lean muscle without the need for exercise. It seems to block an enzyme called “lipoprotein lipase” that moves fat from the blood into storage in the body’s fat cells.
It also enhances the action of another enzyme called “hormone sensitive lipase” that breaks down fat that is already deposited in the cells, liberating the fat to be used as fuel for nearby muscle cells. The net result is less fat, more fuel. Tests on grass-finished beef show that it has three to five times more CLA than commercial grain-finished meat.