The Fats of Meat (Meat Part 3)

Continuing our meat discussion part 1 and part 2

What is CLA?

Conjugated Linoleic Acid.  There are 16 different types of CLA, though each one is still being studied for their individual benefits.

What is the richest natural source of CLA in the American Diet?

Meat and dairy from 100% grass-fed animals.  A cow’s diet plays a significant role in determining the amount of CLA contained in its meat and milk.  CLA, a “good, healthy fat,” is most abundant in grass-grazing animals, so consumers of these ruminents absorb and store the CLA in their tissues.

How does CLA help you?

Studies have shown that an increased amount of CLA could be linked to:

  • a lowered risk of breast cancer
  • a reduction in tumor growth
  • a lowered risk of heart attack
  • a reversal of arteriosclerosis
  • a reduction in body fat
  • an increase lean body mass
  • a reduced risk of diabetes

(The type of CLA found in grass-fed meat has been proven to be the best cancer-fighter of all other CLAs.)


But CLA is not the only “good fat” in grass-fed meats.  Omega-3 fatty acids (those “good fats” found in flaxseeds, fish, soybeans, walnuts, and so forth) are in plentiful abundance in pastured meats, restoring a more proper and natural balance of Omega-6 (“bad fats”) to Omega-3 fats.

What is the proper balance?

The typical American diet is loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids, bringing the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega-3 fatty acids to 20:1.  The ideal or balanced ratio should not exceed 4:1.  Industrialized beef has a ratio of more than 14:1 and as high as 21:1.  In grass-fed beef, that ratio is lower than 4:1.  In fact, it is typically 3:1 and can be as low as 1:1.

Why should you strive for a proper balance?

An imbalanced (or higher) ratio of essential fatty acids has been associated with:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • an increased risk of cancer
  • high risk of heart disease
  • asthma
  • arthritis
  • allergies
  • depression
  • obesity

However, eating a balanced ratio could lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even mental disorders.

But what about grass-fed/grain-finished meat?

As soon as grass-fed livestock are fed grain, their Omega-3 content quickly diminishes.

The Bottom Line:

Switching to 100% grass-fed helps correct the balance of “good fats” in your diet, which, in turn, could help prevent or reduce the risk of several chronic diseases and disorders.

photo by Hilde

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