From the Desk of Dr. Len
Is Red Meat the Problem?
Dr. Len Lopez – Wednesday, October 14, 2015
What I want to talk about is the differences, in the composition or the ratio of omega 3’s and omega 6’s fatty acids in red meat that is conventionally raised versus ‘free range’ feeding. I’m not going to talk about taste, because that is subjective, whereas the ratio or amount of saturated and unsaturated fats in ‘range free’ cattle is something that is easily measured.
I’m not even going to go into all the hormones and antibiotics you are exposed to when you eat meat that has been conventionally raised or what you typically get at your grocery store, fast food or family restaurant.
If you go back in time, before corporate farming, and feed lots took over. Most cattle and ranches were ‘free range’ and the cows, chickens, hogs, goats, etc., ate more of their natural diet. Basically whatever was growing or had grown (hay).
Back in the day the composition or the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat was about four to one (4 : 1). Today, that ratio is about nineteen to one (19 : 1) of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. So before you start throwing the baby out with the bath water and implicate red meat or saturated fat, you need to look at what these animals are eating and how it changed the composition and ratio of those essential fatty acids.
Animals that are conventionally raised are given a diet high in grains – NOT GRASS. This fattens them up faster and causes their body composition to be highly dense in saturated fats. On the other hand, animals that are allowed to eat their natural diet, which is grass, produce meat that has a better ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats.
Therefore, in my opinion the problem isn’t saturated fats – it’s the ratio of saturated fats to monounsaturated fats that are the problem. The fact that most people consume meats that are conventionally raised are eating lots of saturated fats, whereas if they ate meat that had a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats, their health would be improved.
There is great research showing the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and fish oils being beneficial for heart disease, arthritis, hormonal imbalance, cancer, diabetes, depression, and the list goes on. But it’s not because of some type of magic in fish oils – it has more to do with restoring that balance of saturated to unsaturated fats.
So if your diet is predominately made up of saturated fats, supplement with some fish oils, better yet, eat more fish, nuts and seeds and cook with olive oil and or coconut oil to improve that ratio. Remember they’re called essential fatty acids, because you can only get them in your diet. Our body can make saturated fats – it can’t make unsaturated fats!
If you are a meat lover, as I am, don’t be hoodwinked into believing all red meat is bad. I didn’t discuss taste, antibiotics or hormones that are given to the animals.
FYI….antibiotics are used more in ranching than for colds and flu’s.