Why Your Beef May NOT Really Be Grass-fed
Grass-fed beef actually contains 2 to 4 times more heart-friendly, fat burning omega-3 fats (essential fatty acids). It also contains significantly more vitamins and minerals (4 times more vitamin A and E), with less fat and calories per pound than the regular (and less expensive) grain-fed beef you buy at the supermarket. Grass-fed beef is also packed with the all-natural fat burner CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acids – found mostly in the meat and dairy products derived from ruminating mammals including: cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, yaks, deer, camels, llamas, antelope, as well as some members of the marsupial family such as kangaroos and wallabies).
The problem is: some farmers will feed their livestock grass for most of their lifespan, but “finish” them with grains in the last few months before sending them to the slaughterhouse.
This process may help the farmer or big food companies make more money – but it completely changes the fat profile of the grass-fed animals. That is because the last 90 to 160 days of the animal’s diet determine how much nutrition your big, juicy steak will really contain. This late stage fattening process removes most of the benefits that the initial grass diet might have originally had. The omega-3s transform into inflammatory omega-6s and it completely destroys the all-natural CLA content.
*(Not to also forget, that the mass-produced grains which are fed to most livestock may also be contaminated GMOs – http://cookingwithchrist.org/gmo/)
Labels can be very misleading because within the agricultural industry, some grass-fed beefs are actually “grain finished” as described above.
Would you want to pay premium prices for something that does not contain what it is supposed to?
Each time you invest more money to buy healthier beef, there is a chance you may end up getting less quality than what you have paid for.
You probably already know that grass-fed beef sold in the nutritional section, has nothing to do with its feedlot-raised, grain-fed counterpart that is typically sold in supermarkets. Grass-fed animals are considerably healthier than grain-fed ones, which also means that farmers do not have to use part of the 15 million pounds of antibiotics used annually on grain-fed cattle just to prevent them from getting sick.
So what label claim do you look for at your local Whole Foods store or grocery nutritional section to find grass-fed beef?
Unfortunately that is not really as evident or clearly stated in the labeling as it could be and therein lies the problem.
In the last few years, the labeling regulations have changed quite a bit in the beef industry. But of course, very few consumers know this fact. Today, agricultural manufacturers are allowed to sell grass-fed beef that has been “grain-finished” as (100%) grass-fed beef.
Obviously, buying good quality meat is a great idea to improve your own health and support local farms that care about their animals and product. But because the conditions we have described are not well regulated by the USDA, your best insurance is to develop a relationship with the supplier or farmer that raises their beef the right way. This will give you confidence that you are buying the right kind.
Just shop smart and learn more about the source of your meat products. DO NOT always assume that the minimum required labeling is 100% accurate.
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of these eating trends
– from Lisa Freedman
There seems to be new diet trends popping up every time you open the refrigerator, but no extreme eating regimen sticks out more than the Atkins Diet. The carb-phobic diet book was written in the ‘70s and got insanely popular in the ‘90s; since then, people have obsessed over their meat intake. And lately, we’ve been hearing far too much about meat-only diets—and a little less about vegetarian diets. But is there any weight to either of these eating ways? Is one better than the other?
To answer these questions (and more!) we spoke with Ruth Frechman, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and looked at the facts.
Meat is the best source of protein, which the body needs to function optimally. Red meat is also a good source of iron, vitamin B, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
“Meats have high levels of saturated fat and can raise cholesterol,” Frechman says. Because of it’s high-fat content, red meat has been linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And processed meat is loaded with sodium, which can raise blood pressure. Although it’s often thought of as the healthier option, chicken and turkey have been found to be more strongly associated with weight gain than eating red or processed meat, a new study finds.
“If you’re just eating protein, you’re not getting carbohydrates, which you need for energy, so instead you’re burning fat,” Frechman adds. But that’s not as good as it sounds—this process is called ketosis and it can result in muscle and joint pain. High-protein diets can also result in a strain on your kidneys and dehydration. “You’ll lose water from your muscles and lose muscle mass.”
Still not convinced that your body needs veggies? New findings show that even early Neanderthals ate and cooked vegetables. Archaeobiologists at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. have found remnants of date palms, seeds and legumes (including peas and beans) stuck in the teeth of Neanderthals, who were once thought to be strictly meat-eating humans.
Vegetarians generally have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, several forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity because these diets are usually lower in fat and higher in fiber. Vegetarians as a group are often healthier, as they tend to be nonsmokers and drink less alcohol.
A vegetarian diet will result in a quicker weight loss because it tends to be low in calories. “You may loose weight but you also may lack energy,” says Frechman. You’ll get more vitamins, minerals and nutrients but you probably won’t get enough calcium (from diary) or essential fatty acids (from fish) or folic acid (from grains). Also noticeably absent from most vegetarian menus: Protein, which protects your immune system and builds muscle mass. “If you’re on a vegetarian diet long enough, you could suffer from malnutrition.”
That’s not to say that an all-vegetarian diet can’t be done — people clearly do it. You just need to work harder to make sure you’re getting a balance of all the necessary vitamins.
“Both of these diets would be lacking nutrients, but the vegetarian diet would at least have a few more nutrients,” Frechman says reluctantly, after we forced her to choose a lesser of two evils. But she’s quick to add: “I don’t see any pluses for either of these diets.” Your body needs a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. “Any diet with less calories than normal will cause weight loss,” Frechman begins. “That’s the only positive thing with either of these, but really, they’re unhealthy, short-term fixes.”
The American Cancer Society suggests that each of your meals be two-thirds plant-based. That means the bulk of breakfast, lunch and dinner should be made up of fruits, vegetables, beans or grains. The other one-third should be meat (about three ounces per meal and no more than 18 ounces each week). When picking meat, choose the leanest cuts of meat and opt for low-fat cooking methods (such as baking instead of frying), and keep processed meats (yes, even pepperoni!) at a minimum, as they’re high in sodium.
When it comes to veggies, you want to eat about 2 ½ cups a day—or 17 ½ cups each week. “For balance, eat 1 ½ cups of dark-green vegetables, 5 ½ cups of red and orange vegetables, 1 ½ cups of beans and peas, 5 ½ cups of starchy vegetables and 4 cups other types of vegetables in a week,” says Frechman.
*(Article Source: Lisa Freedman is Senior Editor at Food Network Magazine and has written for Maxim, Wired, Golf and Redbook.)