Health Benefit of Grass Fed Beef
Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called “conjugated linoleic acid” or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.1 A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA ,as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.)CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth.2 There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Switching from grain-fed to grassfed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category.3 Researcher Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grassfed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection.
What is CLA?
The Basics: CLA is a newly discovered good fat called “conjugated linoleic acid” that may be a potent cancer fighter. In animal studies, very small amounts of CLA have blocked all three stages of cancer: 1) initiation, 2) promotion, and 3) metastasis. Most anti-cancer agents block only one of these stages. What’s more, CLA has slowed the growth of an unusually wide variety of tumors, including cancers of the skin, breast, prostate, and colon.2
Human CLA research is in its infancy, but a few studies have suggested that CLA may have similar benefits in people. A recent survey determined that women with the most CLA in their diets had a 60 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer. 3
Where do you get CLA? Many people take a synthetic version that is widely promoted as a diet aid and muscle builder. New research shows that the type of CLA in the pills may have some potentially serious side effects, including promoting insulin resistance, raising glucose levels, and reducing HDL (good) cholesterol .4
Few people realize that CLA is also found in nature, and this natural form does not have any known negative side effects. The most abundant source of natural CLA is the meat and dairy products of grassfed animals. Research conducted since 1999 shows that grazing animals have from 3-5 times more CLA than animals fattened on grain in a feedlot. Simply switching from grainfed to grassfed products can greatly increase your intake of CLA. 5
There are two isomers of CLA (cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12). The grass-fed animals have significantly higher levels of the c-9,t-11 isomer. Why is this important: c9t11 has properties of reducing inflammation, suppressing tumor growth, promoting fat loss, and reducing oxidative stress. The t1-c12 isomer increases oxidative stress, promotes insulin resistance, and has been shown to be associated with higher mortality in various studies.6
1. Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56. Interestingly, when the pasture was machine-harvested and then fed to the animals as hay, the cows produced far less CLA than when they were grazing on that pasture, even though the hay was made from the very same grass. The fat that the animals use to produce CLA is oxidized during the wilting, drying process. For maximum CLA, animals need to be grazing living pasture|.
2. Ip, C, J.A. Scimeca, et al. (1994) “Conjugated linoleic acid. A powerful anti-carcinogen from animal fat sources.” p. 1053. Cancer 74(3 suppl):1050-2.
3.Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V. Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. “Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women.” s 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7.)
4. Riserus, U., P. Arner, et al. (2002). “Treatment with dietary trans10cis12 conjugated linoleic acid causes isomer-specific insulin resistance in obese men with the metabolic syndrome.” Diabetes Care 25(9): 1516-21.
OBJECTIVE: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a group of dietary fatty acids with antiobesity and antidiabetic effects in some animals. The trans10cis12 (t10c12) CLA isomer seems to cause these effects, including improved insulin sensitivity. Whether such isomer-specific effects occur in humans is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate whether t10c12 CLA or a commercial CLA mixture could improve insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, or body composition in obese men with signs of the metabolic syndrome. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, abdominally obese men (n = 60) were treated with 3.4 g/day CLA (isomer mixture), purified t10c12 CLA, or placebo. Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp, serum hormones, lipids, and anthropometry were assessed before and after 12 weeks of treatment. RESULTS: Baseline metabolic status was similar between groups. Unexpectedly, t10c12 CLA increased insulin resistance (19%; P < 0.01) and glycemia (4%; P < 0.001) and reduced HDL cholesterol (-4%; P < 0.01) compared with placebo, whereas body fat, sagittal abdominal diameter, and weight decreased versus baseline, but the difference was not significantly different from placebo. The CLA mixture did not change glucose metabolism, body composition, or weight compared with placebo but lowered HDL cholesterol (-2%; P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal important isomer-specific metabolic actions of CLA in abdominally obese humans. A CLA-induced insulin resistance has previously been described only in lipodystrophic mice. Considering the use of CLA-supplements among obese individuals, it is important to clarify the clinical consequences of these results, but they also provide physiological insights into the role of specific dietary fatty acids as modulators of insulin resistance in humans. 4. Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). "Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets." J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56. Conjugated linoleic acid in milk was determined from cows fed different diets. In Experiment 1, cows were fed either normal or high oil corn and corn silage. Conjugated linoleic acid was 3.8 and 3.9 mg/g of milk fatty acids in normal and high oil treatments, respectively. In Experiment 2, cows consumed one-third, two-thirds, or their entire feed from a permanent pasture. Alfalfa hay and concentrates supplied the balance of feed for the one-third and two-third pasture treatments. Conjugated linoleic acid was 8.9, 14.3, and 22.1 mg/g of milk fatty acids in the one-third, two-third, and all pasture treatments, respectively. Cows grazing pasture and receiving no supplemental feed had 500% more conjugated linoleic acid in milk fat than cows fed typical dairy diets.. © eatwild.com 6.http://crossfitwv.typepad.com/eatpood/2009/11/november-4-grassfed-vs-grainfed.html
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