Category Archives: is saturated fat bad for you

Health Benefits of Grass Fed Beef and CLA: Part 2

Grass fed cows can make wonderful cheeses and butters, which are a good source of natural CLA

In a post a couple of days ago, I gave you a highlight of the benefits of eating grass fed, organically raised beef and animal products (like organic raw milk or cage free eggs), as the essential fatty acid CLA can only be derived naturally from these sources. This time around, I expect to show you the actual research that supports this, and how you can relate it to your own health.

Again, CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid which is found primarily in meat and dairy products. So, without further ado’, who are the health benefits of grass fed beef and conjugated linoleic acid:

  • CLA and Weight Loss:
  • Many studies are showing the fantastic link between CLA and weight loss, and how it can alter your body composition in a positive way. A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed weight loss in overweight individuals with CLA supplementation, equal to 1 pound per month. Combined with exercise and stress reductions, that weight loss could in exceed that limit.

    Another study from The Journal of American College of Nutrition presents that studies performed with CLA and animal models show a decrease in adipose tissue, or body fat, whether or not the animal was eating a low-fat or high-fat diet.

  • Cancer: This study demonstrates the anticarcinogenic effects found in animal foods, or CLA. If you are wanting to reduce your cancer risk, or add another natural method for cancer prevention, then adding CLA to your diet may help.Take, for example, this study, which shows that a small additions of CLA in your diet can reduce your risk for cancer by up to 50%. That is significant, especially if you have a healthy lifestyle already, by exercising, reducing environmental toxins and controlling stress.Another study performed at Kuopio University in Finland with 329 women in a French hospital showed a whopping 74% decreased risk of developing cancer in the women who had higher levels of CLA in their bloodstream.(1)
  • Insulin Sensitivity
  • Researchers at Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences found that CLA fed to mice prone to adult onset diabetes decreased overall glucose levels in the blood and an improved insulin action.

    The researcher also goes on to say that one should be aware of the trans-fatty acids in the foods that contain CLA, like dairy and meat products. However, these products do not naturally contain trans fatty acids, unless fried or cooked with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. He then recommends margarine enriched with CLA. However margarine contains trans-fatty acids, as it is a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hmm. Always be sure to do your own research, because even scientists are always very well educated in nutrition.

    CLA supplements have been shown to worsen insulin resistance, rather than their natural counterparts. So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, it is urged that you try to find a source of CLA in its whole, natural form. Perhaps from raw dairy or cage free, organic eggs.

  • High Cholesterol
  • A study on hamsters found that the group fed a diet of CLA had lower amounts of LDL (low density lipoprotein) in the blood, as well as a reduced risk of developing early aortic atherosclerosis. Currently I can only find studies done on animals, such as hamsters, mice and rabbits. But it does give us an idea of how CLA functions in the body.

  • High Blood Pressure
  • One study on Iranian adults with rheumatoid arthritis showed a significant decrease in blood pressure after CLA additions. Another study on rats (because scientist love their rats) showed a positive decrease in hypertension.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA, certainly is a good fat to incorporate into your diet, as these studies have clearly shown. Taking them out completely does not promote good health, so utilizing this fat at least 2-3 times a week is a necessary for me. Even if it is only from eggs or raw, grass fed milk, I know I am doing my body good.
CLA and Supplements: A word of caution on supplements – Many studies show an opposite reaction to all the of beneficial side effects associated with conjugated linoleic acid. This is where you will have to do your own research and find that CLA from natural sources, such as grass fed butter, milk, eggs or meat, is your better option. Talk to a trusted nutritionist for more information on this topic.
I hope to provide a series of recipes that can be of good use for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike, who are wanting to incorporate more CLA in their diets. Until then…
This is The Healthy Advocate.
REFERENCES:

(1) A. Aro et al, Kuopio University, Finland; Bougnoux, P, Lavillonniere F, Riboli E. “Inverse relation between CLA in adipose breast tissue and risk of breast cancer. A case-control study in France.”Inform 10;5:S43, 1999

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Can Beef Be Healthy? – The Health Benefits of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)

Photo Courtesy PlanetGreen

*Please click the links provided in the post to read studies on conjugated linoleic acid

What if you could eat your beef, yet remain healthy? What if you could eat eggs, chicken, turkey, etc., but still maintin a low body weight? Conjugated linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found in these products may provide these healthy benefits, and more, according to numerous studies on the fatty acid composition and its relation to human health.

There are many studies linking meat consumption with cancer, diabetes and a host of other health problems that stem from an unhealthy lifestyle and bad dietary habits. However, many of these studies are indicating factory farm animals, who have been fed GMO (genetically modified) grains, promoting higher levels of omega-6 fats in their blood (inflammatory fats—high livels have been shown to contribute to cancer cell growth). These animals are also pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick due to their stressful environment, and growth hormones to increase the rate of growth in the animal. I don’t know about you, but all these things don’t really sound health promoting.

This might be the reason why many studies link cancer with meat eaters. But what if there was a way to avoid all meat containing these unhealthy additives and fats, meat that was organically raised, free range and ate the diet their bodies were designed to eat? Would they be healthier, and would our health reflect theirs? Most possibly, especially when you look into the research done with grass fed beef and animals and CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid.

What is CLA?

CLA is an essential fatty acid. This means our body cannot manufacture CLA on its own, and we need to obtain it from our diet. The foods high in CLA include eggs, beef (specifically grass fed beef), chicken and turkey. Finding CLA in vegetable sources is nearly impossible, unless you want to consume corn oil (eek!), which is especially high in omega-6 fats.

CLA has been shown in recent studies to fight obesity, reduce the risk for cancer, help you lose weight, improve immune function as well as fight diabetes. An amazing list that you don’t immediately jump to when you think about eating meat.

There are many naysayers about consuming beef, especially because of the deplorable conditions factory farm animals are kept throughout their short lives. In my opinion, this form of farming has to go, and replaced with a slowly growing movement of free range, organic farming, which lets the animals roam freely on a diet that will promote their health (rather than being fed grain—an unhealthy food that promotes inflammation, and one that they would never eat in nature).

Animals who are free range typically live longer than animals who are on factory farms, and tend be healthier without the use of antibiotics. Organic, free range cows are especially high in CLA, afat which has been shown to fight cancer and belly fat. In fact,you don’t necessarily have to consume grass fed beef too often to receive its health benefits. Free range, cage free organic eggs also provide a high amount of CLA (but not as much as grass fed beef).

The Health Benefits of CLA

This is Part 1 of a two part series on CLA. The benefits of conjugated linoleic acid will cover an entire post (in fact, probably even two posts!), so I will retain the benefits of this healthy fat until tomorrow. However, here are a few bullet points (which will be followed with the studies that validate the claims in the following post) that show the health benefits of the essential fatty acid, CLA:

  • Reduces the Risk for Cancer
  • Fights Diabetes
  • Fights Abdominal Obesity
  • Reduces High Triglyceride Accumulation

Until next time, this is The Healthy Advocate.

The Twisted Truth About Saturated Fat

Note: This is only a fraction of what I have to say about this matter and it is far from complete, and don’t be surprised to see more posts on fats, particularly saturated fats, in the near future.

It’s raining outside, and I sit here sipping on my raw hot chocolate. I love mornings like this. The rain makes it so cozy, and knowing that it is cold outside, I feel very grateful that I have a warm home with everything that I need. There’s a Hitchcock documentary on in the background.

I also begin pondering on a subject that I have spent a bit of time researching on, and I dwell upon this subject for a while, trying to discover why this information is not out to the majority of the public. This is the subject of saturated fat.

Yikes! This term even strikes a bit of fear in myself, because I have always been told that these natural, nature made (or God made, depending on what you believe) fats are harmful and contribute to a variety of diseases like heart disease and elevated cholesterol.

However, I have found this topic to be quite controversial, and with the analysis that I have accumulated in my nutritional research, I quite strongly believe that saturated fat isn’t the devil it is made out to be.

After reading studies accumulated by Dr. Mercola, studying the diets of native and isolated populations (via Nourishing Traditions and The Weston A. Price Foundation), and really delving deep into controversial research, I have found that saturated fat has been a part of healthy populations for centuries. In fact, it has nourished all people for hundreds of thousands of years (maybe millions?), and it wasn’t until the USDA told us to eat more carbohydrates and less overall fat to fight heart disease, that heart disease actually increased.

The “theory” that saturated fat is corrleated to an increase in heart disease was developed by Dr. Ancel Keys in the 1950s (I just finished a fascinating book about Keys’ starvation experiment). His research covered over many different countries, but omitted data that was unfavorable to the study and only concluded seven countries. The research did show a link between fat consumption and heart disease, but only when one looked at the countries Keys included. When one actually looks at all the countries that were available in the study, the link between saturated fat and heart disease completely disappears, and it is seen that there were other factors that contributed toward heart disease.

This study, however, gained much publicity (Ancel Keys was a big guy on publicity of his experiements), and the “Low-fat” craze swept the nation, and later the world, with low-fat and fat-free products for every thing.

According to nutritional researchers Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon, heart disease makes up 40% of all US deaths, and is growing, which should suggests (if you believe in the “Lipid Hypothesis”) that saturated fat consumption (mainly in the form of animal products) has increased. In actuality, saturated fat intake has decreased.

How come if the saturated fat has decreased, the heart disease risk has become even greater? It is believed by many that it has to do with the high level of carbohydrate intake in the forms of processed, refined grains and sugars. These stimulate our insulin levels and elevates our triglyceride and cholesterol levels and hurts our hearts. Plus the intake of trans fats in processed foods, we have consumed large amounts of grains that have degraded our health.

If you look at the USDA food pyramid, you will notice that the majority of our calories should come from grain products, and only HALF of those grains should be whole, complex carbohydrates (these will provide a steadier release of glucose in our system).

However I firmly believe that all grains should be limited, or even eliminated, for overall health. Fresh vegetables, high quality animal proteins and fats and small quantities of soaked and sprouted grains (more on that later) should make the bulk of your diet, as these will not cause a spike in blood sugar.

I definitely don’t want you to take this information as the absolute truth, because I strongly encourage everyone to fully research the nutrition information they hear, so that they can make a strong and firm decision about their health. My research has convinced me about saturated fat being an essential part of life (after all, around 50% of our cells in our body are made of the stuff!).

If you have any questions, or would like to be pointed to sources, studies or research articles, please comment below. I’ll be uploading a new recipe very soon, so stay tuned!

Until next time, this has been the Healthy Advocate.