Grass Fed Beef: Is It Superior to Poultry?
For over 50 years red meat has been vilified for its heart clogging saturated fat & cholesterol content. Poultry products have been marketed as the healthiest animal protein due to their low-fat content. New understandings of health and inflammation now reveal that grass-fed beef is significantly more nutrient dense than poultry.
Saturated fat and cholesterol have been blamed for heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. Research indicates that saturated fats and cholesterol are necessary for overall cellular health (1, 2, 3). They play an extremely important role in regulating neurological, cognitive and hormone function. A diet low in these important fats causes lowered immunity, sex hormone function and accelerated aging and brain degeneration.
Red meat could be one of the best foods in an individual’s diet or one of the worst. The key factor is what the animal is eating. Naturally, cows eat a near 100% green diet of grass, flowers, shrubs and other wild vegetation. Grain feeding is genetically incongruent for these animals and leads to excessive weight gain and fat accumulation.
The typical grain-feed is made up of corn and soy due to the low cost associated with government subsidies. Grain-fed cows are extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids. The average ratio for a cow on a grain-fed diet is roughly 25:1 (omega 6:3). This is genetically incongruent for all mammal species that should naturally be around 4:1 (4).
The Importance of Omega 6:3 Ratios:
Humans should naturally have an omega 6:3 ratio around 4:1 or 2:1. When these ratios become skewed, they trigger cellular inflammation and accelerated cellular degeneration. This environment causes an individual to become highly inflamed and to build degenerative disease (5).
The more grass an animal eats the greater their omega 3 content and the lower their omega 6 levels. A 100% green-fed diet, which is genetically congruent for a cow would provide an omega 6:3 ratio of 2:1. This is ideal for the cows long-term health and is highly anti-inflammatory for human consumption. The omega 3 fatty acids present in this meat are primarily the all-important long-chain variety EPA and DHA.
The Poultry Based Diet:
Chicken and turkeys cannot live on grass alone. They lack the highly specialized digestive tract that allows them to convert grass and roughage into a quality meal. This is too low in calories and too high in fiber for them. They need some addition to grass and the vast majority of farmers choose to feed them a mixture of soy and grain.
Chickens can get about 25% of their calories from grass while ducks can go up to about 50%. The higher the level of grass, the higher the anti-oxidant and omega 3 content of the meat and eggs.
Grass-fed beef and other grass-fed mammals contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is considered to be one of the most potent anti-carcinogenic nutrients. In a study published in Cancer Research, animals given a mere 1.5% of their total calories in the form of CLA had a 60% reduction in tumor growth (6).
Finnish researchers have found that the greater the amount of CLA in a woman’s diet, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Women who consumed the largest amount of CLA had a 60% lower risk for breast cancer (7).
Grass Fed Beef Has More Anti-Oxidants:
Grass-fed mammals are also extremely rich in carnitine and carnosine. Carnitine helps cellular mitochondria drive energy efficiently from fat metabolism. Carnitine is the critical gate-keeper that allows fatty acids to pass into the mitochondrial furnace effectively (8).
Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant that improves muscle, brain & cardiovascular function. It functions to reduce the effects of stress and aging by protecting the proteins of the body which aids in tissue healing and repair (9).
Poultry has significantly less CLA, carnitine and carnosine than grass-fed beef. Beef also contains a lot more branched chain amino acids. This includes the crucial muscle building amino acid leucine. Grass-fed beef has an enormous edge over free-range poultry when one compares the fatty acids, proteins, fat-soluble anti-oxidants and minerals such as zinc.
Grass Fed Beef Has More of the Following:
1. Omega-3 fatty acids
2. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
6. Vitamin D & E
When Do I Recommend Consuming Chicken:
Pasture-raised chicken is a very healthy food for the body and shouldn’t be discouraged. It just isn’t as nutrient dense as the grass-fed beef. Some individuals find that they feel better consuming chicken rather than beef. This is typically the case with those who:
1. Have low stomach acid production
2. Have a sluggish liver or have had their gallbladder removed
3. Have a food sensitivity to beef
If you are experiencing any of these issues, I would look into the root cause of why this is taking place. There are many reasons why someone would have trouble digesting fats. If you are experiencing this and simply do not feel well when consuming grass-fed red meat, then the following strategies in this article will help you to troubleshoot this issue.
Disclaimer: The remarks above reflect my own views. They do not necessarily reflect the views of ButcherBox or any other individual or company.
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