Fat is good for you

With all the talk about obesity, fat gets a bad reputation. But I can’t understand this as it goes against pretty much all the accepted nutritional science around, that is as long as you are talking about “good” fat.

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Omega 3’s are often batted around in the media as a cure all solution to nutritional health problems like high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Why all the focus on only one of many essential fatty acids?

 

The answer is that it makes a huge difference to your health and is the one that is most lacking in the modern western diet. The reason it’s become such a pressing issue is because it’s only in the last 50-60 years that this essential part of our diet has been almost eliminated through intensive meat production. It is only now that we are starting to see the implications of this with the increase in obesity, diabetes, ADHD in children and degenerative brain disease in older people.

All of the cells that make up our bodies are made of various essential fatty acids. Two of the most important are Omega 6 and Omega 3. While both of these are important, the ratio between them is even more so. Ideally we should have 1 part of Omega 6 to every part of Omega 3 in our cells. In the western diet we get far more Omega 6 than Omega 3 and when the ration goes above 4 to 1 health problems start to become more prevalent.

So what is the big change in our diets that has caused this growing health problem in the western world?

The intensification of agriculture. In particular the indoor rearing of meat animals and fattening systems based on over-subsidised cereals has changed the biological make up of the animal protein we need to function. Probably 95% of all meat in supermarkets is cereal fattened so we just don’t get the Omega 3 we need from our animal protein.

While entirely grass fed meat often has an Omega ratio of 0.5 Omega 6 to 1 part Omega 3, cereal fed livestock can have a ratio as high as 20:1. Remember, health problems start occurring when the ration goes above 4:1.

The cells of fresh plant material (fruits and stems) has a ratio of about 1:1, so it makes sense that our bodies and animals bodies are built on the basis that plants are the foundation of all the food we eat. Basically, we are designed to eat grass fed meat, so we probably should.

When the cells in our bodies become out of balance they become less effective and don’t function as well as they should. If your balance of Omega 6: Omega 3 is OK then you are able to process and break down the harmful hydrogenated, transfats that cause rises in our bad cholesterol levels. When the ratio is out of balance these fats are not broken down. Worse still they start to replace the essential fatty acids in the cell structure, further undermining the body’s ability to process these inputs. When this happens it can create resistance from insulin leading to diabetes.

Apart from the Omegas, another essential fatty acid found in grass fed beef is CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). This helps to break down the fats you ingest and while it will help you to lose weight as part of a diet of exercise it certainly helps to prevent further weight GAIN. It has also been proven to have cancer fighting qualities, so it seems pretty important to me. In livestock fed grain/cereals CLA can be almost entirely absent, typically the levels in grass fed meat are up to 400% higher than the cereal fed alternative.

Ted Slanker has been campaigning on this over in the States for ages now and his website  is full of useful information on the whole grass fed meat debate (he is now in the hall of fame on the right hand side). This website  is also a great source of information on general nutrition as well as scientific background  to the importance of these fats to our diets.

So fat IS good for you as long as it’s the “right fat”. Make sure you get the “right fat” when you buy your meat.

Regardless of the health arguments, the final clincher for grass fed beef for me is the taste. That’s why you eat it isn’t it? It does make sense that meat reared outside on traditional pasture eating a balance of natural grasses and herbs tastes a world apart from an animal kept indoors and fed grain everyday. Why don’t you try some and taste the difference from the cardboard meat you get in the supermarket.

MDAL

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] meat, organic beef and lamb, organic meat, salt marsh lamb Following on from the entry about how fat is good for us I thought it worthwhile pointing out that it isn’t just us that need good nutrition but also […]

  2. 2

    […] Last night we had mutton mince in a simple, proper, shepherd’s pie and it was amazing. After a few months, I forgot about the delicious smell, the texture and the fat ( I love eating the fat). […]

  3. 3

    […] set seed. over 4 or 5 years you lose the wildlfowers and so lose some of what makes the meadow (and the meat) […]

  4. 4

    […] – Does it provide adequate nutrition? This is related to the “Natural Food” […]

  5. 5

    […] remember also that the right fat is good for you… […]

  6. 6

    […] I could take them leaner – but that would impact quality of the meat (less fat is not good). […]

  7. 7

    […] Now as with all things in business one tries to keep down costs and since these lambs are destined for the supermarket they are fattened on the same food as the supermarket lamb – concetrate sheep feed. This is a general mixture of feed stuffs with the right balance of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals. Rest assured this is the same stuff that the “Finest” range will probably be fattened on in the winter but it’s not good enough for proper grassfed lamb and mutton. […]


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