Have you ever heard the term “essential fatty acids”?  These are fats that we must consume in our diet to survive, we cannot manufacture these essential fats ourselves.  Let’s take a brief look at two fatty acids that you have probably heard about in the news, omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids, omega 3 (animal fat) and omega 6 vegetable fat).

Essential fatty acids we consume in our diet. Omega 6 are inflammatory and Omega 3 are anti-inflammatory, we need both in the correct ratio.

Omega 6 fatty acids are inflammatory where omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.  We need both components in our bodies to be healthy.  The important thing to research is the ratio of these two types of fatty acids in our diet.  Currently the average american diet is around 20 to 1 (20:1), that is 20 omega 6 fatty acids consumed to every 1 omega 3.  It appears for best health the ratio should be somewhere around 1:1 to 5:1, if you pick the middle of this range, the optimum would be say 3:1 or three omega 6 fatty acids consumed for every one omega 3 consumed.  WOW, we need to cut down on those inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

The 2004 Times Magazine article, “The Fires Within”, brought awareness to the problem with the American diet over consumption of omega 6 fatty acids (inflammatory).  A benefit of consuming pasture raised animals is not in the omega 3 levels found in the meat, but note that pasture grazed beef will test around 2:1 versus grain-fed beef at 14:1 (omega 6 to omega 3 ratio).  Why is this?  Omega 6 fatty acids are from vegetable fat (oils).  Conventional beef are eating grain, where much of the vegetable fat is stored by the plant.  Consuming pasture grazed animals will help balance your diet’s omega 6 to 3 ratio, but the greatest gains in helping our diet on this issue would come from reducing consumption of omega 6 foods (vegetable oils), lard anyone?

Speaking of omega, the end of the greek alphabet, I think this post will end our discussion about FAT.  Hopefully you will continue your own research into the facts about consuming animal fats, especially the benefits of consuming great tasting pasture grazed meat, dairy and eggs.

Most of us probably agree that fat contributes to the taste of beef.  We can also appreciate that beef raised by grazing pasture for their entire lives will taste different from beef fattened in a dirt feed lot.  But shouldn’t we avoid animal fat in our diet?  Don’t be fooled by the negative press, a power packed fatty acid known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), has many health benefits.  Cattle raised on forage only diets will have CLA levels three times (or more) higher than grain fed beef.

What kind of health benefits does CLA give us?

  • Reduce risk of cancer
  • Reduce risk of high blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of high cholesterol
  • Reduce risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduced body fat
    • Yes eating the right kind of fat reduces body fat, go figure.

Can our body manufacture CLA?  No, you must consume this Power Fat known as CLA, and an excellent source of CLA is pasture grazed beef!  When cattle live their lives on their natural diet, forages, the CLA levels in their meat are naturally high.

CLA in a bottle versus CLA in pasture grazed steak

How do you prefer the health benefits of CLA?

Can’t I just buy CLA in a bottle at my favorite health food store? Well, yes you may, but I believe our bodies better use nutrients, enzymes, vitamins etc through quality low processed food.  Now relax and enjoy that pasture raised cut of beef.