Too Many Terms? Here’s Help.

When you are trying to plan out a well-balanced diet, meat, poultry, and dairy are foods that cannot be neglected. These foods provide their own set of nutrients which we cannot obtain from other food sources.  Unless you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you would want a few servings of those essential foods to stay on top of your health.

We know that different cuts of beef, pork, and poultry contain varying amounts of protein and fat.  These two nutrients are vital for optimum health, and two of the main reasons why we include those foods in our plate in the first place. However, it’s interesting to find out that not only the cuts of meat have a direct effect on the nutrients that they supply, but, also the way that these animals were fed and raised.

Because of all the current interest in healthy eating, two terms that have gained a lot of use in the press lately.  Those are “grass-fed” and “pasture-raised”.

This post will give you a detailed explanation on how they differ from the traditional meat, poultry, and dairy products that we commonly shop for.

What is Grass-Fed?

calf

mage by Couleur from Pixabay

Generally when animals reach a certain age, they are sent to feedlots.  There they are fed with soy, grain, and are treated with hormones and other supplements that aim to force their growth.

When animals are referred to as grass-fed, it means that they are kept home on grassy plains to feed on their natural food, the grass, and thus grow naturally and more healthily.

What is Pasture-Raised?

Although they are sometimes confused with each other, there’s a very thin line that differentiates grass-fed and pasture-raised. Pasture-raised is a generic term that refers to animals raised in pasture – their natural habitat. While the word pasture may lead us all thinking about “grass”, pasture-raised animals do not necessarily feed on grass alone.

In the pasture, you will find a variety of crops, legumes, seeds, and all sorts of plants and insects. Some pasture-raised animals may also be fed with organic grains, such as soy, oats, corn, barley, and triticale, and be given other health supplements.

Grass-Fed And Pasture-Raised vs. Grain-Fed Products

Generally, the early lives of cattle start out  pretty much the same.  They depend on their mothers’ milk until they are big enough to roam on pastures and feed on grass and other plants.

After about six to twelve months things change for animals sent to feedlots (grain fed) and animals kept at home on pasture (grass fed or pasture raised).

Diet

turkeys

When animals are sent to feedlots, they are fed with grains, given hormones and other drugs to hasten their growth. They stay there for a few months.  Then they are moved to the slaughterhouse. To make matters worse, some of these animals aren’t just fed with grains, but with certain waste products known as “by-product feedstuff”. These may be in the form of candies, bakery and potato wastes, floor sweepings, etc.

In contrast, grass-fed and pasture-raised animals spend their lives differently. They spend their adulthood largely in their natural habitats, feeding mainly on grass, seeds, other crops, and insects (for omnivores, such as, chickens, ducks, and turkeys).

Environment

 Sadly, the conventionally-raised animals which are sent to feedlots are far too often  forced to suffer unsanitary living conditions. Because they are often housed inside a small space, they live too close to each other and to their own manure, making them susceptible to acquiring various diseases. To avoid such diseases, they are given antibiotics, but, too much antibiotics can make bacteria resistant, which can become a huge problem when us, humans have acquired a similar strain.

Pasture-raised animals, on the other hand,  spread their manure over a large area of land, producing organic fertilizer instead of a source of disease. The risk for contamination is so low that they do not even require antibiotics for survival. Additionally, animals raised outdoors are allowed to move around and perform their normal practices, such as, roosting, rooting, or grazing.

Those are some of the basic differences between grassfed and pasture-raised.  I hope that makes some sense to you.

 

Why Do We Need Low Fat, High Protein Foods?

Cows in grass

Grassfed

We’re in desperate need of more energy. As our lives get busier we need them more and more.  But where do we find the energy we crave and must have to thrive?

Many people draw their energy from a good night’s rest, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet. While this is certainly an effective lifestyle regimen, lots of people can’t find the time to exercise, make an organic meal, or even get the suggested eight hours of sleep per night.

Luckily, there are ways to boost your energy throughout the day by snacking on and fixing low fat, high protein foods for at least two of your three daily meals.

Why Protein Is An Important Part Of Your Diet

Protein is an important part of your diet.  It is one of the main substances that provide the body with the energy it needs to get through the day. Whether we are physically active throughout the day, running around and constantly on the go, or mentally active, thinking critically and engaging in in-depth conversations, our energy stores can be depleted pretty quickly.

Again, not many people have time to stop and grab an especially nutritious meal, and when they do have time to eat, it’s not always the best foods. However, keeping a low fat, high protein snack on hand can actually help you to stay fuller longer by giving you ample amounts of energy from a nutritious source.

Protein is also important because it provides the body with the nutrients and vitamins needed to maintain healthy systems. A balanced diet should always include some form of protein to ensure that the body can function well.

Low Fat, High Protein Foods To Include

Whether you’re adding them to your dinner or bringing them along for your busy work day, the following foods are high in protein and low in fat, sodium, and sugar.

These ultra-healthy snacks are great for an energy boost no matter how your day is going. Choose from the following to create a healthy selection of protein rich foods:

• Hard-Boiled Eggs: The egg has always been a staple food because it is inexpensive, highly nutritious and one of the easiest ways to add extra protein to your diet without a lot of fat. Hard boiled eggs are great because they can be saved in container and brought along to work, school, or while running errands.

• Nuts and Trail Mix: Nuts are extremely high in protein and a great food to nibble on when you don’t have time for a full meal. They are portable and shelf-stable, meaning you don’t have to worry about them spoiling on you if you wait too long to grab them. Add dried fruit and granola to the mix for extra flavor and your sweet tooth. The best nuts to add are almonds and pistachios.

• Nut/Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter is a great protein rich food because it can be added to just about anything and taken anywhere. Add peanut butter to a slice of wheat toast, on a celery stick, with some fruit, or even between some crackers for a savory and satisfying snack. You can also try walnut, cashew and almond butter if peanut isn’t really your thing.

• Edamame: These bean sprouts can be eaten directly out of their pods. You can add them to a variety of dishes, eat them raw, or steam or sauté them to add a twist to this super-powered, protein-filled food.

• Cheese: Though the shelf life may be a little short, cheese is a great source of protein and can be added to just about anything. Natural, unprocessed cheese is the best choice for the highest nutrition value. Pair with some fruit, almonds and whole-grain crackers and you’ve got yourself a deliciously satisfying snack.

• Lean Meats: Turkey, chicken, and low sodium beef jerky are all great sources of protein. Adding meat to your diet is a great way to get a quick and healthy boost of energy that will last for hours. Pair these meets with cheese, veggies, and some fruit to make a quick lunch or a savory snack.

We need these low fat, high protein foods because they actively provide our bodies with the energy we need to fuel our busy lifestyles.

There are plenty of other high protein foods to choose from, so shop around to find the best snacks and meals for you.

The Organic Element

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Want to get confused?

Take a look for healthy food on the internet.  You’ll find so many terms used that your head will be spinning in no time.

Let’s take a look at some of them and what they mean.

What Is Organic

Organic is another term that you may come across when shopping for pasture raised and grass fed food products. This term adds another twist to the equation.

Organic means that food is grown, or animals that provide food are raised in an environment devoid of any pesticides, chemically engineered food or grain, on organic soil, without hormones or injections, and it literally means a “clean” environment or produced using organic agricultural ingredients.

Organic Certification

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) is responsible for organic certification on all foods. In order to meet standards that allows the “organic” labeling of food, farms, growers and ranches must follow strict guidelines. The USDA performs annual inspections to make sure that farms meet all the organic standards.

Organic Standards

Here are some key requirements that must be met by farms for beef, pork and chickens to be certified as organic:

  • All animals that become commercial food must be raised on certified organic land.
  • The animals can only ingest organic feed.
  • They cannot be injected with any antibiotics or added growth hormones.
  • They must have outdoor access (note that no specific time limit is required).
  • Any organic feed given to animals cannot contain antibiotics, animal by-products, or genetically engineered grain, or grain that was grown with chemicals in the fertilizer or persistent pesticides.
100% Organic Certified label

100% Organic Certified

What Do They Mean?

100% Organic” label means that the product includes 100% organic ingredients and they typically have the official USDA Organic seal.

From the USDA website:

“100 percent organic” can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Likewise, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc.—can also be labeled “100 percent organic.”

USDA Organic labelThe “Organic” label means that ingredients are at least 95% to 99% organic, and the other ingredients meet particular organic standards. This category can also display the seal.

From the USDA website:

“Organic” can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic and/or nonagricultural products that are on the National List.1.

The “Made With Organic Ingredients” label can be placed on foods that have a range of 70% to 94% ingredients certified to be organic. They cannot display the seal, but, the specific organic ingredients can be printed on the package.

From the USDA website:

“Made with Organic ______” can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed constraints regarding the ingredients that comprise the nonorganic portion.

Other products that have 69% or less organic ingredients can also list those on the information panel of the package, they cannot place an organic seal or label.

Final Thoughts

Being meticulous in your shopping can go a long way towards your overall health goals.

It’s certainly worth being cautious about your food selection, but, it’s equally important to know where the foods you eat come from, and what the animals it comes from eat and how they are raised.

As you can see there are many health benefits to choosing pasture raised and grass fed products. 

Is Omega 3 Beef A Healthy Choice Or Is Omega 3 Beef Just Another Red Meat?

 

By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Jean_Helmet]Jean Helmet

 

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to the human diet. They support better health, brain function and retinal health. In particular supplements or food sources of Omega 3 that have high amounts of DHA- docoahexaenoic acid supports and alleviates certain health conditions, like Alzheimer’s Disease and Macular Degeneration. EPA-eicosapentoic acid aids in the reduction of inflammatory diseases and injury. ALA-alpha-linolenic acid also plays a part in the support of human health.

Omega 3 beef is different from typical beef in that it is fed and grass while typical beef is most often grain fed. Which one is better than the other and offers more potential health benefits? Grass is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids while grains that are fed to animals are higher in Omega 6.

Most Americans diets are severely deficient in Omega 3’s and extremely rich in Omega 6’s creating an imbalance. This imbalance is believed to be instrumental in causing
Cancer, ADHD, Diabetes, Heart Disease and other diseases that are caused by body breakdowns rather than bacteria. There are studies being done on human health and what conditions would benefit from treatment with Omega 3’s.

Consumption of grass fed beef has less fat and less calories than grain fed beef. It then follows that Omega 3 beef is healthier and may even aid in weight loss. This red meat is healthier, leaner, and it has been reported to have other health benefits as an addition to ones diet. Unfortunately, grass fed beef is not abundant in the United States although more and more people are switching to grass feeding (pasturing) animals because of the healthy benefits.

The recommended ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is 2 to 1 or better. Other positive points regarding Omega 3 beef include it is loaded with natural vitamins and minerals. It is a great source of CLA-(Conjugated Linoleic Acid) a fat that reduces the risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, as well as some immune disorders. Beef in its natural state and grass fed, not grain fed, allows it to be categorized as a health food. This is a red meat that is actually good for you.

The best source of Omega 3 comes from the Hoki fish that is native to New Zealand.
Omega 3 beef is very rich in Omega 3 as well. Consumers of the Omega 3 Beef report that it tastes like beef and in comparison to grain fed beef has more flavor. It is also free from hormones and antibiotics.

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Better Choices for Better Health

by B.G. Roberts

Meat is a key part of the daily dinner menu for a lot of people. They just don’t want to give up. Interestingly enough, the USDA recently found that beef and pork consumption in the U.S. has decreased over the past decade. However, the U.S. is still among the countries with the highest rate of meat consumption in the world.

With meat being such a prominent part of our diet, it’s important to keep your health and well-being in mind while planning your meals. Here are a few choices you can make to work toward a smarter, healthier diet.

Go for Grass-Fed Beef

Many beef cows are fed grain every day. But, grass is the natural bovine food source. Studies have shown that meat from cows that have eaten grass provides more nutrients than from cows who are fed grain. This includes vitamin A, vitamin B, and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, grass-fed beef has been known to contain up to five times the omega-3s of grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid which actually helps to reduce body fat.

Add Some Eggs

Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They provide you with nutrients such as vitamin D and B12, which helps to lower your risk of heart disease. But, don’t limit yourself to breakfast when it comes to incorporating more eggs into your diet. Poached or hard-boiled eggs go great in a salad at lunch or dinner. Just make sure not to overdo it, especially if you have high cholesterol or diabetes.

Don’t Forget about Veggies

When you’re eating delicious burgers or fried chicken, it’s easy for fruits and vegetables to slip your mind. Try to include these in your meals as often as possible. One of the easiest ways you can do this is to make a salad to go with dinner. Salad is a very versatile side and you can incorporate fruits, vegetables, dressing, and just about anything else that you want into them.

Keep Sodium Levels Low

Most foods contain some amount of sodium, though for many it’s not enough to have a significant effect on the body. Meats, particularly ham and shellfish, have the highest natural sodium contents. Despite this, the leading contributor of sodium in your diet is likely salt.

Many people add salt to the majority of their meals, meaning a diet that is much higher in sodium. Remember, eating too much sodium over a prolonged period can lead to heart or liver problems.

 

Meat can be a perfectly healthy addition to any diet routine. It’s one of the best sources of protein available and also provides essential nutrients such as iron, selenium and zinc. But, like with any food, it’s important to take nutritional value into consideration while planning a menu.

Always try to prepare reasonably sized servings and to include a diverse mix of different food groups in every dish. This will ensure that you eat balanced meals that provide everything that your body needs for a long, healthy life.

Harmful Chemicals In The Meat You Eat

Many people may not realize it, but much of the meat we eat contains synthetic growth hormones and other chemicals that may be harmful to us. Why would cattle owners want to use growth hormones? It is all about money. Ranchers today want to produce more cattle in a shorter period. A rancher may only have about 14 months to get the calf from a small size, say 80 pounds, to a selling size (around 1,200 pounds). Growth hormones help the cattle put on weight to get them ready for slaughter in record time as well as reducing the amount of fat in the meat. Nitrates are a chemical compound that can also be found in meat today, being used to cure meat and give them a healthy color. Most notably, nitrates are found in hotdogs, giving them their red color.

The use of hormones in meat is nothing new. As far back as the 1930s, research shows that estrogen affected the growth rates in both cattle and poultry. By the 1950s, a synthetic (man made) estrogen, DES, was being used to increase cattle size. However, DES was found to cause cancer and is no longer used to “fatten” up cattle and chickens.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) current approves of five different types of hormones used in food production. Of these, testosterone and progesterone are produced naturally by the animals and zeranol and trenbolone acetate are synthetically made. These hormones are approved for use only in cattle and sheep. Poultry, such as chickens and turkeys, and pigs do not gain much weight when given these hormones, so they are not given them. Most of these hormones are given to the animal by inserting a pellet under the skin of the ear. The pellet releases the hormone and the ears of the animals are thrown away during slaughtered.

The concern of scientist and consumers both is that traces of the hormones and chemicals will remain in the meat and pose a potential hazard to humans who consume it. Have you noticed that girls today seem to be reaching puberty at a younger age? It is suspected that this may be due to the steroids found in today’s meat. Unfortunately, studies done on the potentially harmful ingredients in meat have proved inconclusive and further studies are needed. One problem when conducting a study is that the animals produce some of the hormones naturally, therefore making it hard to determine how much is natural versus the pellet hormones. Also, the level of hormones produced naturally varies from animal to animal, another hurdle for researchers to overcome. The concern with nitrates, used to cure meats and give them a pink or red color, is that they can be converted into nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are believed to both cause and promote cancer. However, the FDA has no studies that decisively finds nitrates used in meats harmful, therefore continue to allow them to be used in processed foods. 

What should you as a consumer do? One thing you can do is purchase organic meat. Organic meat comes from livestock raised without hormones or steroids. Also, the cattle are fed grains with no pesticides involved. In 2002, the United States Department of Agriculture developed a system whereas all organic foods (including meat) would be labeled as such. So when shopping, you should see a label on organic meat that signifies that it contains at least 95% organic ingredients. Some grocery stores carry organic meat, but if not, you may have to visit a butcher shop or health food store to find it. You can even buy organic meat through the Internet and have it delivered to your home. However, if you decided to purchase meat online, you may want to first order a small amount. That way, you can determine if it meets all your specifications for delivery time, freshness, etc. before buying a larger quantity.

As ranchers strive to find ways to get more cattle to slaughter faster, consumers will continue to be concerned in the methods they are using to do it. Until more research is done, the best thing you can do it try to be aware of all the dangers out there by staying abreast of the current research being done on cattle hormones and chemicals used in processing meats, and purchase organic meat for your family.

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