Being frugal is as much a part of me as being female. I'm a frugal female, a frugal fatale, a frugal freak! So if there is anybody who shops for value and bargains it is me. My best friend Danielle and I refer to ourselves as the "bargain busters." We regularly call each other or text each other with photos of our latest "bargain bust."

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But, when it comes to health, there is no bargaining really, because there shouldn't be a limit on how much you spend on your health…right?   

Nevertheless, when I stroll the meat aisle of my local grocery store gazing at the prices for beef and comparing the price of beef that is 75% grass fed vs. beef that is 100% grass fed, I can't help but toy with the idea of opting for the less expensive beef.

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So that brings us to the question and title of this blog.

Why you should break the bank for grass fed….

There is nothing more significant than the animal's diet when it comes to the nutrient value of animal products.  

First of all, the meat from grass fed animals has lower total fat content than the meat from grain fed animals.  

Secondly, grass fed is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in every cell and system in your body.  Of all the fats, they are the most "heart healthy." People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.  Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to have a serious heart attack (1). 

Omega-3s are extremely beneficial for your brain as well.  People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to be afflicted with depression,  schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.(2) This is why pregnant women and breast feeding women take vitamins that are rich in Omega-3s.

Omega-3s may reduce your risk of cancer. Animal studies have shown that omega-3s have slowed the growth and spread of cancer (3).  Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in grassfed animal products. 

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Why do grass fed animals have more omega-3s than grain fed animals?

Omega-3s are found in the green leaves of plants. Sixty percent of the fat content of grass is a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic or LNA (4). 

Often, cattle are taken off grass and shipped to a feed lot to be fattened up on grain, hence, the cheaper price of the 75% grass fed beef. When they are taken from the grass and put on the grain, lose their valuable store of LNA as well as two other types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.  Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished (5).  

When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s (6). That is why it is important to buy eggs from pastured hens instead of factory hens. The eggs from pastured chickens are supposed to have 20 times more omega-3s. 

And then there is something called CLA "conjugated linoleic acid. 

Grass fed animals will produce milk, eggs, or meat that has 5x more CLA than their grain fed counterparts. 

CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. 

In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA — a mere 0.1 percent of total calories —greatly reduced tumor growth (7). 

There is new evidence suggesting that CLA does reduce cancer risk in humans. 

In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels of CLA. Switching from grainfed to grassfed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category (8). 

So, can I sweat the amount of money I will spend on grass fed beef next week? Sure, I can. But will it lead me to choosing beef that is not grass fed? Um, no. because….

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After reading about the research, the frugal freak in me can now relax. Knowing that grass fed animal products are rich in Omega-3s and have high levels of CLA leads me to easily justify spending the extra cash. Understanding the positive impact omega-3s have on heart health, brain health, and cellular health and how CLA can help in the defense of cancer, it seems there really is no question.  Besides, I only eat beef once, maybe twice a week. Otherwise, I am getting my omega-3s from the handful of nuts and the eggs I eat every day. In addition, adding flax seed meal and chia seed to protein shakes and/or oatmeal is another, less expensive way to be sure to grab your omega-3s. 

 

References: 

1.  Siscovick, D. S., T. E. Raghunathan, et al. (1995). "Dietary Intake and Cell Membrane Levels of Long-Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and the Risk of Primary Cardiac Arrest." JAMA  274(17): 1363-1367.

2.  Simopolous, A. P. and Jo Robinson (1999). The Omega Diet.  New York, HarperCollins. 

3.  Rose, D. P., J. M. Connolly, et al. (1995). "Influence of Diets Containing Eicosapentaenoic or Docasahexaenoic Acid on Growth and Metastasis of Breast Cancer Cells in Nude Mice." Journal of the National Cancer Institute  87(8): 587-92

4.  Johnson, Jo. The Health Benefits of Grass Farming; Why Grassfed is Best,  N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2013.

5.  Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, et al. (1993). "Effects of time on feed on beef nutrient composition." J Anim Sci   71(8): 2079-88.

6.   Lopez-Bote, C. J., R.Sanz Arias, A.I. Rey, A. Castano, B. Isabel, J. Thos (1998). "Effect of free-range feeding on omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-tocopherol content and oxidative stability of eggs." Animal Feed Science and Technology 72: 33-40. 

7.  Ip, C, J.A. Scimeca, et al. (1994)  "Conjugated linoleic acid.  A powerful anti-carcinogen from animal fat sources." p. 1053.  Cancer 74(3 suppl):1050-4.

8.  Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V. Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. "Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women." Nutr Cancer 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7.