Showing posts with label saturated fat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saturated fat. Show all posts

Monday, October 28, 2013

What’s the Big Deal About “Grass-Fed”?

Should you care about buying your beef from grass-fed cows?  It usually costs more than other kinds of beef but, other than price, is there any significant difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef?  Indeed there are several differences worth noting – and perhaps worth influencing your purchasing decisions. Seven key differences may steer you to grass-fed beef!

Grass fed cow

1.  The Grass-fed flavor difference

What goes in to an animal’s diet affects the flavor. Grass is the natural food for cattle – it was the primary diet years ago, before most farms were run by major producers.  For efficiency and cost reasons, the majority of cattle in the U.S. today are fed grain instead. 

Not surprisingly, there is a distinct taste difference between the burgers or steaks that come from grass-fed cattle.  Most describe the flavor of meat from grass-fed cattle as richer or more beef-like. 

This may be reason enough for you to consider trying grass-fed alternatives, but the remaining six health-related reasons are even more compelling.

2.  Grass-fed beef is lower in calories

Counting calories?  Then count on the beef of grass-fed steers instead of grain-fed.  The meat from grass-fed steer are lower in calories – about 100 calories lower than in a 6-ounce steak, for instance.   While that may not sound like much of a difference, consider the average amount of beef Americans eat; if you’re one of them, you will consume nearly 1,500 fewer calories each month by switching to grass-fed sources, and without eating any less meat! 

3.  Grass-fed meat has less saturated fat content

You’ll get a lot more bad fats when you eat regular, grain-fed cattle beef.  The meat of most grass-fed animals have considerably less total fat.  In the case of cattle, you’ll get about 50-66 percent less, depending on the  cut, which can lower your body’s LDL (bad fat) cholesterol levels.

4.  Grass-fed beef has more heart-healthy fats

These days, just about everyone knows that you can get Omega 3 oils (good-for-you fats) from certain kinds of fish, but did you know you can also boost your Omega 3’s by eating beef from grass-fed cattle? Compared to grain-fed, grass-fed livestock produce a meat that is 200 to 600 percent higher in HDLs – the kind of fat that helps you lower cholesterol levels.

5.  Grass-fed beef has higher amounts of CLA

If you’ve ever seen a product called CLA in the supplement section of your favorite retailers, and wondered what it is, CLA (which stands for conjugated linoleic acid) is being investigated for its value in treatment of disease-related weight loss, obesity, atherosclerosis, allergies, and even cancer.  In one study from Finland, for instance, women who were eating diets with higher amounts of CLA showed a 60 percent lower rate of breast cancer than those women who had very little CLA.

But you don't have to buy CLA in a bottle. It occurs naturally in some dairy products and meats, including beef. However, grass-fed beef weighs in with nearly five times the amount of CLA's as a grain fed.


6.  Grass-fed beef has more vitamin E

With studies released in the last few years that appear to link the antioxidant vitamin E with anti-aging and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease – especially when the vitamin E is sourced from foods rather than pills – you'll be happy to learn that beef is a vitamin E source. Once again, there is a "however" with this information – meat from cattle that have been grazing on grass has four times the vitamin E count as grain-fed cattle.

7.  Grass-fed beef is potentially safer

All the reasons above described what you get from grass-fed beef that you don't get in grain-fed beef. However, sometimes the choice on whether to choose one type of food over another – such as selecting organic produce over inorganically-grown produce – has as much to do with what you don't get as what you do.  In the case of grass-fed meat supplies:
  • When you buy beef labeled as grass-fed, the cattle have not been given hormones nor antibiotics – both standard in modern grain-fed cattle raising, and both of which can show up in the meat you eat.
  • You have less need to worry about mad cow disease. To date, mad cow disease has never been discovered in any grass-fed cattle.
  • You are also less likely to encounter E. coli bacteria – which has been found in some grain-fed cattle, but rarely in grass-fed cattle.

Grass-fed – cost vs. value

Yes, you'll likely pay a bit more for meat sourced from grass-fed cattle than from grain-fed cattle. But considering the health and flavor differences, grass-fed is certainly worth a try.  And if you do give it a try, tell us about it. What are your personal thoughts regarding the flavor difference, for instance.  You can share your thoughts on this using the comments field below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, September 9, 2013

Life-Saving News on Cholesterol Management

Odds are, you are more likely to die as a result of heart disease or stroke than just about any other cause. Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States.  Would you like to rise above this statistic?  You can;  we now know that the main way to prevent these two killer diseases is to detect high cholesterol and treat it promptly. 

High cholesterol in your blood is one of the main risk factors for both heart disease and for stroke.  Getting the word out about the importance of lowering cholesterol to reduce your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke is fundamentally the reason for September’s National Cholesterol Education Month initiative.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), sponsoring National Cholesterol Education Month, launched the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) 23 years ago with the goal of reducing illness and death from coronary heart disease by reducing the percent of Americans with high blood cholesterol.  The efforts of the NCEP are making a difference; our intake of saturated fat and total fat is on the decline. And it’s no coincidence that illness and death from coronary heart disease mortality has continued to decline as well.  That said,  heart disease and stroke remain leading causes of death in the U.S.

Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood.  And it’s not all bad; your body actually needs cholesterol.  The problem is entirely about too much cholesterol of the wrong kind.  When you have too much, the cholesterol starts building up on the walls of your arteries, which blocks the blood flow.  These blockages can bring on the big and ugly three: heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

So then, how much is enough cholesterol, and how much is too much?  The trick is to understand that there are two kinds of cholesterol: HDLs and LDLs. One is good and one is bad.  The HDL’s (high-density lipoproteins) are the good ones and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) are the bad ones.  Thus, you want a higher HDL level, and you want to have a lower LDL level.  An easy way to keep them straight; use their first initials as a mnemonic; be Low on LDL and High on HDL.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 71 million American adults have high LDL’s – the bad cholesterol. While that’s alarming enough, the CDC also states that just one-third of them have the condition under control.  If you are one of these 71 million who need to get your cholesterol under control, why not start now, during National Cholesterol Education Month?

Heart shaped plate

The lowdown on lowering cholesterol levels

Now that you’ve got the basics down, you know that lowering cholesterol levels is really about lowering bad cholesterol. Might you be at risk? You can get a general sense of your risk by using the  10-Year Heart Attack Risk Calculator, available from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  But to be certain of your risk…
Get screened!
Doctors agree that a screening for cholesterol levels is the key to detecting if you have a high cholesterol problem. High cholesterol can be a silent killer because there are usually no outward symptoms; most of those who have high cholesterol do not know. 

The good news is that the test is simple, and can usually be performed by your doctor in his office. If you’re an adult, 20 over over, NCEP recommends getting screened every five years, or more often if:
  • You are older than 45 and male or older than 50 and female.
  • Your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher.
  • Your HDL (good) cholesterol is lower than 40 mg/dL.
  • You have other heart disease and stroke risk factors, which your doctor can tell you.
Change your lifestyle
Even before you get tested, you can make changes to your way of life that can lower your bad cholesterol levels:
  • Exercise regularly.  By adding about 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity into your weekly routine, you can lower your bad cholesterol.
  • Eat right.  The average American diet is high in saturated fats and trans fats, either of which may raise LDLs. Do include healthy fats in your diet though, as they can actually lower LDL cholesterol levels, as can having enough fiber in your diet.
  • Manage your weight. Obesity usually raises your cholesterol levels. Conversely, losing weight can help lower cholesterol.
  • Don’t smoke. Just one more reason to quit; smoking can elevate your LDLs.
With these lifestyle changes, you may always come home from your cholesterol screening with a smile on your face.  But if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and given doctor's instructions or prescription medications for cholesterol, follow their guidance.

People exercising at the gym

Learn more about blood cholesterol

If you have dangerous levels of cholesterol or are at risk of developing high cholesterol, you’ll benefit from the guidance and education of these resources:
Make this September your personal kickoff event to improving your health by getting screened for cholesterol and making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer