Study

Nutrient News

I had recently mentioned that while grass-fed beef has been studied widely and often, hardly anything has happened with pork. Now we have something out of Australia. And as you would expect, pastured pork follows the same pattern as beef – give them access to the green stuff – and acorns, pecans, berries, and roots – and the Omega 3 is going to get itself back in balance with the Omega 6. Not a surprise, but it is welcome confirmation of the virtue of properly raised pork. The antioxidants show up as well – vitamin E and such – so you have that value added too.

All in all, pastured pork fits our mission. It brings sustainable value.

Rediscovering the Benefits of Animal Proteins and Fats

The beat goes on. I can say it no better than Anahad O’Connor of the New York Times Science edition on September 1st: “People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.”

Thank goodness that we have medical scientists that are willing to question the long-held beliefs about fat and protein. For decades now our own government has insisted that we follow a diet which is demonstrably bad for us. Dr. Atkins, who did no more than report, anecdotally, significant improvements in his patients that switched to low carb, high protein and fat diets, was pilloried for his suggestions. Yet every controlled study in the last 10 years has demonstrated that he was right, and now it is the high carb, low fat crowd that has egg on its face (pun intended) as we watch our girth and risk of disease grow exponentially. The latest study that says we must re-emphasize proteins and fats, sponsored by the National Institute of Health, adds fuel to the fire in several respects.

The most significant finding from my perspective is the stunning reversal in the understanding of saturated fats’ role in heart health. This point deserves a verbatim quote as well: “It’s been thought that your saturated fat is, of course, going to increase [when eating beef, as an example], and then your cholesterol is going to go up,” she said. “And then bad things will happen in general. The new study showed that was not the case.”

A couple of reasons apparently explain why the high protein group did so well metabolically on protein and fats derived from Real Food.

  1. The saturated fat found in meats form into a large cell, slippery LDL which have no tendency to attach to arterial walls. Those markers formed by processed carbs make a small cell, sticky substance that does cling to our walls, leading to atherosclerosis. So while the LDL levels in both groups remained the same, the carb eaters had the dangerous type while the meat eaters had the innocuous version.
  2. The carb eaters lost muscle but not fat while the meat eaters lost fat and built muscle. The doctors noted that our ratio of muscle to fat was important for heart health, even more so than simply losing weight.

I had just read the report when I saw the founder and CEO of Whole Foods grocery chain on television, himself an icon for the vegetarian movement. He is a picture of un-muscled emaciation and now I know why. Just doesn’t look healthy, does he? I must add that I have also seen vegetarians that did have a healthy glow to them, but I always ask and the answer is the same. They take large doses of supplements, a much more expensive and less efficient way to try to get the proteins and fats into your body. Not to mention the stress it puts on your colon, liver and kidneys. Why not enjoy Real Food instead?

Another significant point about this study is that there was no caloric restriction imposed on the participants in either group. They ate as much as they pleased. Yet the average weight loss was much higher among the low carb group, and that is another reason to endorse the low carb diet. To lose weight, it is easier and more sustainable to change the choice of foods consumed than it is to reduce caloric intake.

This all may seem counter-intuitive, but my own experience supports their conclusion. Protein, and fat especially, is self-regulating. When your body has met its needs, it will tell you and you will moderate your intake until it is time to re-load. Carbs are different. The sugars found therein, especially among the simple, refined or processed carbs, have a rebound effect that prompts you to eat more and more. And that’s the problem with too many carbs! Limit or eliminate them, eating only complex carbs in moderation and accompanied by your favorite meat.*

*In this column, “meat” refers to the edible muscle of any creature, be it 4-legged, fish or fowl.

News Flash

Our long-time supporters will confirm that I’m a screamer when it comes to the effort to rid fat from America’s diet. It is a long-held but demonstrably wrong assumption that fat on our bodies must come from fat in our diet. Despite all of the evidence that both refined and naturally occurring sugars are the cause of our heaviness and heart issues, the self-proclaimed nutritionists still push a low- or no-fat diet at us. They are just too proud to give it up after being so sure of themselves for so long.

Maybe the latest study will finally lead to a reasonable position on fats, heard on the NBC Evening News Monday, March 10. Searching for early predictors of Alzheimer’s disease, they found one that accurately predicted the disease 90% of the time. 90% accuracy is unheard of in disease studies because there are often so many potential causative factors.

Here there was only one that was common in 90% of the cases: participants with a low lipids count. What is the lipid count measuring? Fats in the bloodstream.

I wonder how they will explain this one.

Nuts

It’s apparently official: ALL NUTS are health-improving and life-extending according to a recent comprehensive study. We tended to think of almonds as the best nut, most of the others finishing a distant last for nutrient value. Not so, say the experts. They are all about equally good for us. That includes the specifically mentioned peanuts, about which there had been some question since it grows as a rooter rather than on a tree. The peanut now occupies equal status in the nut world.

So let me use this recent finding to remind you of the goodness of fats, a primary food group long reviled but making a great comeback. The good oleic oils found in nuts is nothing more than fat in a semi-liquid state, right? Pigs at Jolie Vue dine on wild nuts in the woods, acorns and pecans, and roasted peanuts in the finishing yard. The result: pork fat (raised the JVF way) profiles like olive oil. How about that?!

While on the subject of porkers, the aforementioned winter pasture also went into the pig paddocks and were feasted upon by our porkers. Looking down on them from the hill for three days, all you could see was a pig body - the head was buried in tall oats that tickled their bellies. Imagine the nutrients that were pouring into their system.

Making Real Food is a very satisfying thing. Watching happy animals doubles the pleasure.

The Latest Study

Margaret Bremer keeps us up to date on the latest dietary studies and reported recently on the “meat/diabetes” study in the New England Journal. You may have seen this one - an “above average” consumption of meat seemed to correlate with an increased propensity for diabetes (I recall that there was a 14% increase). I must admit that this apparent connection stumped me at first glance since diabetes has long been associated with sugars, not proteins or fats. Since the authors offered no theory of correlation, here’s mine: first, remember that any broad-based study of meats in the U.S. are necessarily dependent on the effects of corn-fed meats; 99%++ of our meats are sourced from the feedlots, not from the pastures. As the feedlot industry increases the concentration of sugars in the finishing regime, those sugars must be showing up in larger concentrations in the commodity meats.

That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me.

The Latest Dietary Study, Misinterpreted

The media has grown adept at inaccurate and misinterpreted reporting about dietary studies. These results do not lend themselves to 15 second sound bites or USA Today blurbs - the subject is more complicated than that. The latest Harvard study on the Mediterranean diet and its reported conclusion offers the latest example of the trend.

There is much discussion about the results of the Harvard study of the Mediterranean diet, which reportedly demonstrated a reduction in vascular disease. Mark Bittman, the New York Times food writer, reports these “behind the curtain” facts and conclusions following his interview of the study’s author and moderator.

While the Med diet limits its fat to olive oil and fish, and is considered “low fat”, the author, Dr. Dean Ornish, reports that “low fat” was not actually followed by the participants — “in the end, it was not a low fat diet at all”. However, it is clear to the author that the dietary key to good heart health is the presence of Omega 3 fatty acids, found in abundance in olive oil and to varying degrees in fish (salmon, a lot; every other fish, less so; farm-raised fish, none at all and that is mostly what is available. Know your fish!)

So what do I take away from this study? Several points, but the primary one is this:  it must be the addition of Omega 3 rich foods that make the difference, not the elimination of red meat. Here is why:

  • In every study of the Med diet, it is always noted that diets “high in olive oil and fish and low in red meat” can be beneficial to heart health. My question: is it really just the olive oil and fish that is adding the benefit because of their high Omega-3 content? I have not seen the study where olive oil, fish and red meat are eaten together to see if the same results obtain, but this might be the hidden truth about this latest study if the designer is to be believed. How do they know which one is the controlling factor when they always eliminate red meat but add omega 3 foods? It may simply be the addition rather than the subtraction that drives the benefit.
  • Since 99.9% of the red meat in the US is grain-finished, and since it is known that grain drives out the Omega-3s and drives up the omega 6s and saturated fats, then they must necessarily be comparing the Med diet to a diet that includes grain-finished beef in the control group. When will they study the grass-finished beef that is high in omega 3s? Until they do, they really have no business denigrating red meat as a whole. They should make it clear that they are suspicious of grain-finished beef at best.
  • In addition, shouldn’t they distinguish between wild fish and farm-raised fish if they consider omega 3 to be the key to the benefit? They don’t tell us. Again, if they are supplying farm-raised fish, then the fish aspect of the Med diet probably is not a contributor to the benefit. And that leads to the parallel conclusion that the elimination of red meat is not a contributor either. Right? Right. It may well be the olive oil, not the fish, that delivers the benefit.

The aspect I agree with wholeheartedly is the importance of Omega-3s in our diet. So let’s consider the Jolie Vue diet of beef, pork, chicken and eggs, all free range on organic pasture and woods, and all served in proper proportion to your vegetables and fruits. All of the JVF meats are demonstrably high in omega 3s. Interestingly, and contrary to popular belief that has been so wrong for so long, our pork may provide the highest omega-3 portion of all the meats. Why? Because the pig converts the oils of nuts to oleic oil, which is the same as found in olive oil. JVF pork dines on many things in their omnivorous life, including greens, acorns, pecans and roasted nuts. There you have it.

So, it is important to go beyond the media-reported conclusion of any dietary study and consider the underlying factor or factors that might have led to the conclusion. And my dietary conclusion is this — buy the very cleanest, properly raised and unprocessed whole foods you can find and eat them in great variety as often as you can. That’s a diet you can live with - as Thomas Jefferson did all the way into his late 80th years.

As the Competition Reacts

You know you are having an effect on the factory food chain when they start making things up. The first instance of this was Texas A&M’s claim that they had conducted a study and found that eating grass-fed beef did not change one’s blood chemistry in the least. When their data was demanded, they refused to release it. When the study was leaked by someone in the department, it revealed that the “study” was conducted over 2 weeks and added a grass-fed beef hamburger twice a week during those 2 weeks, the participant eating from the conventional stream the rest of the time. So the participants received 4 four ounce beef patties over a period of 2 weeks and 42 meals. Shame on you for suggesting this was in any respect a fair study, A&M.

The latest false attack claims that grass-fed cattle expel more methane than grain-fed cattle, thus “adding more carbon to the atmosphere”.  So their point is that feedlots are better for the environment than pastured beef?

Let’s consider that proposition.  First, I find the base premise hard to accept. Any cattleman will tell you that grain has to be introduced slowly to cattle in the feedlot, and fed in combination with hay, in order to avoid killing the animal. The corn creates so much gas in their system - a system designed for grass not grain - that their stomach will literally swell with gas and asphyxiate them by crowding out the ability of their lungs to function. So I doubt the verity of the narrow claim made, i.e., that grass-fed cows create more methane gas than corn-fed.   But let’s accept their premise for the sake of discussion. When looking at the whole picture, is it possible that corn-fed is more environmentally beneficial than grass-fed?  Corn doesn’t simply appear at the feedlot. It has to be planted, cultivated and harvested first. That is all done by diesel tractors. It is then transported to a storage facility where it may be either ground or ground and cooked, all of that requiring the burning of energy. Then it has to be transported to the feedlot where it is distributed to the cattle with - you guessed it - a gas or diesel powered vehicle.  Consider also the fertilizers and herbicides required to grow the corn and the highly concentrated animal waste deposited at the feedlot. When the soil cannot use all that is deposited, and it never can, it ends up in our waterways and acquifers.  In the meantime, the grass-fed cattle have been grazing contentedly in their pastures. Are we really expected to accept this malarkey from the feedlot folks and their PR departments?

More Reasons to Eat Grass-fed

Excerpted from the American Grassfed Association:

According to a 2009 study* conducted by the USDA and Clemson University, grassfed beef is better for human health than grainfed beef in ten ways:
1. Lower in total fat
2. Higher in beta-carotene
3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
6. Higher in total omega-3s
7. Better ratio of omega-6 to 3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

In past issues of this newsletter, we've discussed the top 5 health reasons for eating grassfed beef. Today, we're going to talk about numbers 6 through ten, all of which have to do with fats.

We've been brainwashed into thinking that all fats are bad for us, but the truth is that fats are a necessary component of a healthy diet. The human body needs an array of fats in the right amounts to function and remain disease-free. Grassfed beef is one way to add those healthy fats to a balanced diet.

Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated fats that play an important part in growth and metabolism. They can't be synthesized by the human body, so they have to come from our diet. Both reduce inflammation, lower the amount of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, prevent excess clotting and reduce the risk of cancer.

While both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are important individually, they also work in tandem and the ratio is critical. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a typical Western diet can be excessively heavy on the Omega 3s – up to a 30:1 ratio – when the ideal is closer to 1:1. The proper ratio can reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is another potent weapon in the arsenal against chronic disease. CLA can reduce cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and insulin resistance.

Vaccenic Acid is a transfat that occurs naturally in ruminant animals, but unlike its synthetically-produced cousins, is important for good health. A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that vaccenic acid protects against artherosclerosis, a contributing factor in cardiovascular disease.

Saturated Fats (cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins – LDL or “bad” cholesterol) all play a significant role in heart disease and stroke.

The choice is clear – grassfed beef is the healthy way to eat.