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The Skinny on Grass-Fed Beef

posted Sep 21, 2016, 11:36 AM by Walk Strong Calgary
Many these days are steering away (no pun intended) from red meat. The reasons vary, from being uncomfortable with the conditions in which cattle are raised in commercial feed lots, to higher saturated fat content compared to other animal protein sources. If you're considering a change, you may be interested to learn about a potent and important nutrient found in beef, namely, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

Whenever I read the term 'conjugated,' for some reason it makes me think of the term... ahem... 'regurgitated.' This is something some birds do to feed their young. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines conjugated as: "formed by the union of two compounds or united with another compound."i   In this case, we're talking about compounds that unite to make up a 'conjugated fatty acid.' CLA has in fact been linked to successful long-term weight management and optimum health, with some of the best sources being grass-fed beef and raw, unprocessed dairy products from grass-fed cattle. 

According to mercola.comii, there are multiple health benefits provided by CLA as shown in studies. These benefits include combating certain types of cancer, insulin resistance, asthma, inflammation, high blood pressure, food-related allergic reactions and more. When it comes to body composition, human trials show that CLA is beneficial for lowering body fatiii, especially when combined with regular exercise. An added bonus - CLA also preserves muscle tissue and may increase the body's metabolic rate. CLA is not produced naturally in the human body, so dietary sources are important - one of the best sources: grass-fed beef.

Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed - What's the Difference?

A cow is a '
ruminant animal,' i.e., it has a four-compartment stomachiv. Nutrients from plant-based foods are acquired through a fermenting process prior to digestion. Typically, the fermented 'cud' is regurgitated (aha! I knew that word was involved somehow!) and chewed again to further break the plant matter down for digestion. The natural diet of a cow is grass - in fact, if left on it's own, the animal would choose grass over other options like soy or corn (I can tell you from experience that they'll eat weeds, too... such as thistles... a weedy diet = weedy milk = weedy ice cream...). Grass-fed cattle have levels of CLA that are three times higher than grain-fed cattle. A grass-fed cow has close to the ideal ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for your body composition. A grain-fed cow's body composition is quite different, with studies showing the ratio to be anywhere from 5:1 to 13:1 in comparison to 2:1 for the grass-fed animal. This is just one of many differences between the two.

Choosing grass-fed beef and dairy products means you get a good balance of fatty acids and are ingesting a food source that is rich in the health-enhancing fats, low in those linked with various diseases. It also means you're eating fewer calories per serving. According to Dr. Mercola, a grass-fed beef diet may reduce caloric intake by as much as 17,000 per year - the equivalent of a 6-lb weight loss! 

For more information, read Dr. Mercola's complete article below - he covers the inferiority of factory farm produced food, processed meats and more. 


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