Red meat good for the heart? Registered dietitian Ali Miller with Naturally Nourished is here to tell us about the health benefits of consuming hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grass-fed meats.
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So growth hormones? It says on the label that these have been proved safe, what is the concern here? And are there benefits to the hormone-free antibiotic free foods?
The impact of growth hormones are still controversial as their impact on humans through consumption but there has been some correllation-based studies which demonstrate disruption of human hormone balance, causing developmental problems, interfering with reproductive system, and even leading to the development of breast, prostate, or colon cancer. The European Union’s Committee reported that as of 1999, no comprehensive studies had been conducted to determine whether hormone residues in meat can be cancer-causing.
Scientists are also concerned about the environmental impacts of hormone residues in cow manure. Growth promoting hormones not only remain in the meat we consume, but they also pass through the cattle and are excreted in their manure. When manure from factory farms enters the surrounding environment, these hormones can contaminate surface and groundwater.
Aquatic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to hormone residues. Recent studies have demonstrated that exposure to hormones has a substantial effect on the gender and reproductive capacity of fish, throwing off the natural cycle.
FDP approval for rBGH came in 1993, in spite of strong opposition from scientists, farmers, and consumers. According to detractors, rBGH was never properly tested. The FDA relied solely on a study done by Monsanto the producer of the compound, in which rBGH was tested for 90 days on 30 rats.
Mastitis, inflammation of the udders, has increased in the dairy industry as well as malnourishment and illness which has led to the profilactic administration of antibiotics.
Negative Impacts of Growth Hormones in Livestock
- May interfere with human hormone reproductive health, increase risk for hormone-related cancers
- Livestock manure byproducts contaminate surface and groundwater; affecting aquatic (fish) ecosystems
- Increases need for antibiotics which increases antibiotic resistance
What is antibiotic resistance?
When antibiotics are administered ongoing in large quantities the bacteria that they are intended to defend against learns how to outsmart the antibiotic. These super-bugs can be life threatening to humans. This is largely concerning as greater than 70% of the antibiotics in this country are being administered to livestock which has led to the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Of the antibiotics being administered to animals, 74% is profilactically administered in their feed, this is looking like 1/4 pound of antibiotics/day!
*Wow, that is concerning, that sounds like a lot! So what are the best
options for buying meats?*
Selecting local grass-fed dairy and meat are your best options as they will be free of toxins, excessive antibiotics, and will have nutritional benefits. I will be posting resources on HoustonTexasFood.com to local providers and the greatest vote you can make is with your dollar. Shop at the Urban Harvest farmers’ markets, participate in food cooporatives, and visit farms. Re-connect your food system. With no farms there is no food!
And these options are more nutritious?
Yes, grass-fed meats have 1/3 less fat than grain-fed counterparts and of the fat they have more CLA’s, omega-3 fatty acids which boost metabolism, increase lean body mass, and can improve insulin function. Also, the grass-fed products have more vitamin E, B vitamins (including carotenoids), and minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These nutritional benefits sing true among pasture-raised chickens, eggs, cheese, beef, and is consistent in wild game as well as wild fish.
And these benefits are all from the diet of the animal?
Yes, grass serves as a nutrient-dense leafy green and beyond the benefits there are also negative aspects of the grain-fed diet. Ruminants are made to eat grass, their stomachs function as fermentation chambers breaking down greens into protein. Grass is basic while corn is acidic. The stomach of the cow gets very gassy and the bloat can actually suffocate the cow, cause liver failure, or even death this leads to additional needs for antibiotics. Much of this is due to the fact that e. coli bacteria only thrive in an acidic environment as you can see the risks for contamination are significantly less in a grass-fed cow.
And we also look at the omega-3 vs. omega-6 balance. These are essential fatty acids meaning that the body does not make them but they act in opposing ways. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory while omega-6s are pro-inflammatory causing heart disease, increasing risk for cancer, joint pain, hormonal balance, etc.
So now that we know meats can be a part of a healthy diet how do we ensure they are tasty too?
Grass-fed Beef of Buffalo: round, chuck, sirloin, tenderloin, skirt, flank, flap, New York strip, rib eye, t-bone, 95% lean ground beef
Get Cooking: Carne Asada marinade – mix fresh squeezed lime juice, ½ cup chopped cilantro, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. ground cumin and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Place meat in marinade for 1-4 hours.
Pasture-raised Poultry: light meat & skinless, 95% lean ground
Get Cooking: Tiki Masala marinade – combine 1 cup yogurt,1 tbsp each lemon juice & minced fresh ginger, 2 tsp each cumin, cayenne pepper & black pepper, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt to taste.
Place chicken in marinade for 1 hour.
Pasture-raised Pork: tenderloin, boneless top loin chop, boneless top loin roast, bone-in sirloin roast, bone-in rib chop, ham, Canadian bacon
Get cooking: Jamaican Jerk rub – combine 2 Tbsp. dried minced onion, 2 ½ tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp allspice, 2 tsp black pepper, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp cayenne & ½ tsp salt.
Coat meat lightly with oil, then rub seasoning on to meat.
. Wild Fish: salmon, tuna, halibut, flounder, tilapia, snapper, trout, bass, catfish, mackerel, haddock, white fish, sole, scallops, herring, grouper
Get Cooking: Creole dry rub: 2 ½ tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp each cayenne, onion powder, black pepper, dried thyme & oregano, 2 tbsp salt & garlic powder.
Mix together & rub on each side of fillet.
And what about the idea that it isn’t possible to farm everything naturally or organic that we wouldn’t be able to produce enough?
Organic farming outperforms conventional farming during droughts, builds the soil instead of exhausting it, and uses 45 percent less energy, according to the Rodale Institute’s 30 year farming trial. We think of the soil on a local or organic farm as being alive it provides the nutrient exchange needed at the root system of the plant through the nutrients from compost and organic matter that cycles through. However, conventional farms require much more input, the soil on a conventional farm serves only as an anchor it is dead and artificially provided with the nutrients needed for the plant to grow.
Do you like what you see? Visit http://naturallynourishedrd.com/ for more information! And “like” Naturally Nourished on Facebook by visiting http://www.facebook.com/alimillerRD.