This is the third and final post discussing our beef compared to “typical” beef.  If nothing else, I have learned a great deal about the role of fat in my diet as I complete this summary of the laboratory analysis of our Pasture Grazed Beef.  When I asked Midwest Labs to analyze our beef, I specifically requested a report of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), see our “Power Fat” blog post from April 2014 on this all important fat component.  Unfortunately they were unable to analyze CLA specifically.  So what is CLA and what can we tell from the data we have?

Estimating CLA

Conjugated linoleic acid is a form of rearranged omega-6 linoleic acid (LA).  The rearranged LA (CLA) appears to be anti-cancer where as our earlier post pointed out omega-6 fatty acids, like LA, are inflammatory.  So the more LA converted to CLA the better!  This conversion is more dramatic for animals that spend a larger part of their life on green forages.  For a run down of CLA and grassfed meats, refer to the CLA page at EatWild.com and this CLA document at BeefResearch.org.

So what can we deduct from the laboratory data we have for our Pasture Grazed Beef sample vs. the two “typical” beef samples for CLA?

  1. The Beef Research document notes “the total CLA content of beef varies from 0.17 to 1.35% of fat”.
    • Remember, we are comparing 3 lean beef samples with comparable levels of total fat (nutrition label).
  2. We have established our beef matches grassfed characteristics and the typical beef matches grain fed.
    • The Eat Wild information notes that grassfed beef will have 3 to 5 times more CLA than grain fed.
  3. For our estimates we will use 1.25% CLA in our grassfed fat and (1.25/3=0.42) 0.42% CLA in typical beef fat.
    • This will put our beef just below the high range for CLA content and only 3 times more than the typical beef.
  4. Using our four ounce serving size nutrition label.
    • DS Family Farm Beef = 9.5 grams fat * 0.0125 = estimated CLA of 0.13 grams.
    • CNF 6068 Typical Beef = 8.4 grams fat * 0.0042 = estimated CLA of 0.04 grams.
    • USDA 23271 Typical Beef = 9.5 grams fat * 0.0042 = estimated CLA of 0.04 grams.

Another note of interest is that CLA is fairly stable under most cooking and storage conditions.  All of the facts and figures presented in these three posts have been on raw meat analysis.  I’ll keep “what happens during cooking” for a future blog post.  From what I hear, during cooking we loose more Omega 3 than Omega 6 which will raise the final Omega 6 to 3 ratio.

Is There Really A Difference Between Grassfed and “Typical” Beef?

I think we can say, “Yes” there is a difference.  From the laboratory, to the field, to the animal and to the taste, many folks will tell you, yes, there is a difference.

The question becomes, “Is the difference enough to make a difference?”

If you are interested in grassfed meat for your health, here is a 2010 study where eating grassfed meats (beef and lamb) increased the study groups blood omega 3 values.  (Cambridge Press link).  Note in this study there was not much CLA difference in any of the beef, but the lamb was off the charts (higher) for CLA!

If you ask for my opinion, I would have to say “I don’t know” if the difference is enough to make a difference.  There appears to be some good indicators that grassfed meat does have health benefits but as my “Health Nut Highway” friend would tell me, we are all “biochemically different”.  If grassfed meat makes you feel better, than yes it does make a difference!

Looking to improve your health:

  • Eat whole foods, locally produced and minimally processed.
  • Reduce sugars, starches, vegetable oils, stress and toxic relationships.
  • Increase your intake of animal protein and fats!
    • 100% Grassfed preferable (I am biased).
    • But any animal that has access to grass for a significant part of their lifespan should be just fine.

The old adage applies, “if you don’t measure it you can’t manage it”.  These results show that our management is headed in the right direction.  Our beef definitely fits the “healthy profile” as promoted by the grassfed beef industry.  We will leave you with a graphic of our beef nutrition label.  Note this graphic depicts an eight ounce ribeye steak (four ounce sounds kind of small to me).

grassfed ribeye nutrient breakdown

Graphic of the major nutrient make up of our grassfed ribeye including detailed omega 6:3 ratio.  Estimated CLA = 260 mg.

A summary of all three “Fatty Acid Analysis” posts PDF.

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