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You ARE what you eat ATE!

Apr 2, 2013

Beef, much like eggs, has been deemed "BAD for you" over the past several decades, often vilified as a food source that when eaten on a regular basis would raise your cholesterol, make you fat and lead to your eventual DEATH! As with all things in science, time tells (as does more reputable research) and we're now seeing just how healthy beef can be--even when eaten on a regular basis...GASP!

This blog isn't just an outlet for me to debunk conventional wisdom's belief that beef is bad for us...no. It is, however, an avenue to teach you that not all that you've always thought to be true is actually that. With that said, I want to preface my discussion with the following: Beef is good for you, IF AND ONLY IF it was fed well, had lived well, and was brought to our tables in as humane a manner as possible. After all, (paying homage to the old adage) you are what you eat ATE!

Unless you stroll through the supermarket with a blindfold on or stick your fingers in your ears every time Dr. What's His Name comes across the television with the NEWEST and MOST FASHIONABLE way to lose weight and get healthy, you've probably heard of grass-fed beef. Like much of the marketing tactics food manufacturers use (think "all-natural), the term "grass-fed" may just be another one-liner you ignore because the price is typically higher than your grocer's weekly BOGO beef. Here's the deal, although it will cost you more fiscally, you will benefit physically from making the switch from conventionally raised and fed beef.

Let's break it down, shall we? First, grass-fed beef is significantly higher in omega-3 fatty acids, you know those guys that help to keep inflammation low and all body systems running smoothly. There is about a 2 to 5 times greater amount of omega-3's present in grass-fed beef versus its conventionally-fed counterpart.

When it comes to saturated fat, yes, grass-fed beef has that. Shoot, YOU contain saturated fat! However, the saturated fat that is present in grass-fed beef is comprised differently than conventionally-fed beef. The primary type of saturated fat in grass-fed beef is stearic acid, a fatty acid that does not raise cholesterol levels. On the other hand, the other two types of fatty acids found in beef of any kind are palmitic and myristic acids. These are more likely to raise cholesterol, BUT are in minimal proportions compared to beef that is raised on grain and soy.

Conjugated linoleic acid (we will call it CLA because the other is just too darn much to say) is a powerful antioxidant that's responsible for protecting against heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Beef is a great source for CLA, with grass-fed beef containing about 2 to 3 times more that grain-fed beef. Beef cattle that are fed grains and soy have a lower internal pH than grass-fed cows, which causes hinders the growth of the good bacteria that create the CLA in the cows.

Less science-y, grass-fed beef just simply contains more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than grain-fed conventionally-raised beef. Cows whose diets are composed of plants (which is what cows are naturally meant to eat) produce meat and dairy products that are very rich in carotenoids, powerful antioxidants like vitamin A. Vitamin E is another antioxidant found in grass-fed beef. Both the vitamin A and E content work together to protect the meat from damage once it's been butchered and awaits arrival to your dinner plate and eventually your stomach. This becomes more important if you like grilled or smoked meats, because these antioxidants protect the meat from the potential cancer-causing effects of these cooking methods.

Minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium are also in abundance in grass-fed beef. With all of this combined, it's like eating your multi-vitamin, only MUCH, MUCH tastier and easier to swallow!

I know this is a lot to take in, and for some you the cost may still outweigh the potential health benefits of making the switch to grass-fed beef. There is something to be said, however, for seeking out a local farmer who raises grass-fed cows. You may just find that taking that extra step will save you a little money. Remember, the grocery store has to make a little money, so their prices will reflect that. Going straight to the source is often the best bet.

Before I go, I'll leave you with our original thought: You are what you eat ATE. When it comes to conventionally-raised beef, do you really want to BE genetically-modified corn, wheat, soy, a host of anti-biotics, hormones, steroids or a host of other things that meat factories would rather you not know? I don't think so. Enjoy your beef, just make it grass-fed!

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