Red meat has been vilified by many over the past few decades so it’s reasonable for one to assume it’s best to avoid it.
The truth is, 100% grass-fed organic beef and lamb products may be some of the most nutrient dense food options you can consume.
This article will cover why red meat has been wrongly demonized, the healthiest red meat to eat, and some of the many health benefits of eating high-quality red meat.
Why Have You Been Told Red Meat is Unhealthy?
I’m sure at one point or another you’ve seen a news headline claiming red meat causes cancer, heart disease, or even diabetes and that consumption of this food should be minimized.
These articles bashing red meat may have even provided studies backing their claims.
So what's the deal?
They are using epidemiological studies that draw on association, not causation.
This means that the scientists are just observing data from nutritional surveys and attempting to make correlations.
These epidemiology studies rely solely on self reported data, which is constantly shown to be unreliable.
Do you remember how many pieces of fruit you have eaten in the past 6 months? Most folks don’t even remember what they ate last week.
Only randomized controlled trials can determine if a relationship is causal, and there has never been a well done study in this fashion demonstrating red meat being harmful to our health.
Health expert Chris Kresser wrote an excellent article explaining the drawbacks and limitations of this kind of research and why the studies on red meat being harmful have many flaws. (1)
"Concentrated animal feeding operations are awful for the animals, terrible for the environment, and unhealthy for people who consume them."
Quality Is of The Utmost Importance
Debunking the claims that red meat is unhealthy doesn’t mean that all red meat is good for you.
One of the biggest issues is that the majority of the beef in the U.S is extremely low-quality coming from factory-farmed, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) where cattle are subjected to inhumane living conditions. (2)
CAFO cows are very sick animals. They are being fed a terrible diet of corn and soybeans which are most commonly been genetically modified and sprayed with all kinds of pesticide chemicals.
Not many people realize that this CAFO meat is actually one of the major sources of pesticides in their diet due to all the pesticide laden grains the animals are being fed.
The poor cows are confined to an extremely small space with little area to move around.
Due to these horrific conditions, the cows are so unhealthy they are administered antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to grow. The growth process is expedited due to the high grain diet and synthetic growth hormones they are administered
Concentrated animal feeding operations are awful for the animals, terrible for the environment, and unhealthy for people who consume them.
Sadly, that's the vast majority of the meat being sold and eaten in the U.S today.
I would not eat this conventional meat option and recommend people avoid it and stick to high-quality animal protein whenever possible.
That is substantially different than the healthiest red meat you can eat which coming from 100% grass-fed cows which have full access to roam on open pastures, getting plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and their species specific diet.
Why Grass-fed Matters
Raising cattle the way mother nature intended is far more ethical to the animal, healthier for the consumer, and beneficial to the environment.
Most people are under the impression that cows negatively contribute to climate change, but that's only factor-farmed CAFO cattle.
100% grass-fed cattle roaming on open pastures are actually beneficial to the environment and help reverse climate change!
One of the obvious benefits of 100% grass-fed, organic beef is the lack of pesticide chemicals, antibiotics, and growth hormones that come along with CAFO feed.
That in itself is a good reason to go for 100% grass-fed. This is without a doubt the healthiest red meat you can buy from the store!
It’s clear from a common sense standpoint. Healthy properly raised cows are healthy for you to eat, and sick factory-farmed CAFO cows will be harmful.
Some of the many nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef over grain-fed include:1. Higher Omega-3 content
Grass-fed beef contains up to 5 times the omega-3 content compared to grain-fed! (3)
Learn more about the importance of omega-3s by reading our other article on The Best Fats and Oils for Weight Loss and Optimal Health.
2. More Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA is an important fatty acid that has been associated with many health benefits including losing fat, among many others. (4)
Grass-fed beef has been shown to have twice the CLA content over grain-fed. (5)
3. Higher in Vitamins Such as A and E
The importance of vitamins A and E can’t be overstated. They are essential to good health.
Well, grass-fed beef contains more of these two fat-soluble antioxidants than grain-fed, as well as higher amounts of various other antioxidants.(6)
Healthiest Red Meat For Weight loss
Processed red meat and grain-fed meat are harmful to your health.
No debating the fact that conventional hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats that are coming from very low-quality sources and laden with harmful preservatives are terrible for your health.
Although, as discussed previously, 100% grass-fed organic meat is a whole different animal and can be a very beneficial part of your diet.
It's particularly helpful with weight loss!
This is due to protein being the most satiating macro nutrient that will keep you fuller for longer and help ramp up your metabolism so you burn more calories at rest! (7)
This will enable you to consume less high-glycemic carbs (starches & sugars) so you will keep your blood sugar stable and enable your body to burn fat more easily!
Be sure you are sticking to high-quality beef and lamb coming from animals roaming on green pastures eating grass (no grains) to ensure you are consuming the healthiest red meat to help you reach your weight loss goals.
How You Cook Your Meat Matters!
Here are Living Phit, we understand the importance of alkalizing foods and having a balanced pH.
As some of you may know, red meat is thought to be very acidic.
The truth is, it all depends on how you prepare it.
Overcooked meat that's prepared medium-well or well-done can be very acidifying to the body when digested.
On the other hand, lightly cooked meat that's rare or medium-rare does not pose this issue.
The less you cook your meat, the healthier it will be.
When it comes to animal protein in general, the less it’s cooked.. The better!
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Red Meat Should Not Be Feared
My hope is that by now you have realized that red meat can be a healthy part of your diet.
It all comes down to sourcing 100% grass-fed, organic beef and cooking it low and slow to as rare as you will eat it.