Good Meats vs. Bad Meats: Your Definitive Guide to How to Choose Healthiest Meat
Did you know that countries in Europe banned hormone-treated American meats back in 1989?
As a result, NO conventionally raised US meat can be sold there. So what do the Europeans know about hormone-treated meat that we don't?
Conventionally raised meats, poultry and dairy are full of cancer causing hormones and immune suppressing antibiotics.
Years ago, that would not be cause for concern, but today we know better. The commercial food industry places profits over people. The average piece of beef at the grocery store has millions of molecules of unregulated hormones.
What's the Beef about Hormones in Meat?
In feedlots across the nation, farmers implant cows with hormones, some natural and some synthetic, to fatten them up for slaughter and, in turn, increase profits.
Since the 1970's scientists have been researching the effects of added hormones on the human body.
Simply put, researchers believe that the additives in US meat can cause imbalances and raise your natural hormones to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) levels.
They warn that no dietary levels of uncontrolled hormones are safe and have linked the astounding rates of cancer in the US to the hormones used in conventional farming.
The combination of hormones and antibiotics in our food supply is especially troublesome. Because conventional farmers are trying to raise as many cattle as they can at the lowest possible cost, they pack the animals tightly into unsanitary pens and cages where they are at a greater risk for disease.
On a poor diet and living in such cramped spaces, Farmers give antibiotics to every single animal to prevent potential infections and to help them gain weight. While the antibiotics in meats don't always directly transfer to the end consumer, they do encourage the development of new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
In your body, antibiotics kill not only disease-causing bacteria, but also they kill beneficial bacteria, upset your body's inner ecology, and allow unfriendly organisms to take over.
Doctors worry that people who ingest antibiotic-resistant bacteria from their meat will not respond to antibiotic treatment if and when they become sick. Hormones and antibiotics in our food are a "double-whammy" public health issue and one of the best reasons to take a cue from the EU and avoid hormone riddled meats.
Organic Meats, Poultry and Dairy
Meat does provide essential nutrients and valuable proteins. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule when you plan your meals. No more than 20% of your meal should be animal protein, but even that small amount will provide you with essential fatty acids, iron, and amino acids. How can you continue to enjoy meat and reap the health benefits without the dangerous additives?
Organic meats, poultry and dairy products are the best sources for healthy animal protein.
What does organic mean?
- Length of Time: Animals are raised organically from the last third of gestation (for livestock) or no later than the second day of life (for poultry).
- Organic Food: Farmers must give livestock feed that is 100% organically grown.
- No hormones or antibiotics: Sick animals must be treated with an appropriate medicine, but if an animal has been treated with a prohibited medication, it can't be labeled and sold as organic.
- Outside Access: Animals must have access to pasture if they graze. Shade, shelter, fresh air, direct sunlight and room to exercise are required according to the needs of each species.
- No mixing. Organic animal products must be separated from non-organic products. Organic animal products must not come into contact with prohibited chemicals or substances.
Another option is to look for organic, grass-fed meats. Animals that are grass fed do not eat feed made from grains and generally have higher levels of essential fatty acids and lean protein.
If you are trying to avoid animals that have eaten soy feed, then grass-fed meats are the way to go.
Health Benefits of High Quality Protein
The research is in: beef contains high concentrations of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Here are some great reasons to include healthy meats in your diet:
- Decrease your risk for cancer. CLA is a proven anti-carcinogen and can prevent cancer.
- Help you build muscle mass. CLA increases lean tissue and may even be a treatment for obesity.
- Reduce inflammation. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in lean meat fight inflammation related to cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
Sources for High Quality Meats
As the public demand for healthy meats increases, you can often find organic and free-range meats at a local health food store, co-op, or farmers' market. Also try these online sources for fresh and flash-frozen meat and fish shipped straight to you:
- Grassland Beef - for Grass-Fed Beef, Lamb and Poultry
- Vital Choice - for Delicious Wild Alaskan Salmon & Other Healthy Fish
When it comes to health, you and your family deserve the best. Fortunately, the healthiest meats for you are also the best tasting. Organic and free-range meats can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet.
As always, digesting the meat you eat is also very important. Sear both sides and eat your beef rare. Well cooked meat is very difficult to digest. Remember that proper digestion is everything. In a nutshell: conventional animal protein foods from your grocery store should be avoided. Only choose organic and free-range fish, meats, eggs, chicken, etc. such as those you will find at Grassland Beef and at Vital Choice.
- Additives Used in Meat, Labs.ANSCI.UIUC.edu, http://labs.ansci.uiuc.edu/meatscience/Library/additives.htm
American Beef: Why is it Banned in Europe?, PreventCancer.com. http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/general/hormones_meat.htm
- Antibiotic Debate Overview, Frontline, PBS.org. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/overview.html
- Antibiotics in Meat: What you need to know, ParentCenter.com, Oct 2004. http://parentcenter.babycenter.com/refcap/preschooler/pnutrition/64376.html
- Gurd, Vreni, "Conventional vs. Organic vs. free range meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy," Trusted.md, 1 Dec 2006. http://trusted.md/blog/vreni_gurd/2006/12/01/conventional_vs_organic_vs_free_range_meat_poultry_eggs_and_dairy
The Importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health. Biomed Pharmacotherapy, Oct 2002, 56 (8): 365-79. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12442909&dopt=Abstract
None of Us Should Eat Extra Estrogen, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar 1997, PreventCancer.com.
- Organic Foods: Pesticides, GMOs, Food Irradiation, and Eating Well on a Budget, HelpGuide.com. http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm
- Pariza, Mike, "A Fat that Reduces Cancer, Heart Disease, and Body Fat?" Cals.Wisc.edu. http://www.cals.wisc.edu/media/news/05_97/CLA_update.html
Raloff, Janet, "Hormones: Here's the Beef," Science News, 5 Jan 2002, Vol. 161, No. 1, p. 10. http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20020105/bob13.asp
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