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Edge On Health Blog

Get Your Grill On

bn293026Choose sustainable, rather than processed, foods for holiday cookouts.

This coming Memorial Day—and all summer long—millions of Americans will be tossing hot dogs and sausages on the grill. That means they’ll be eating their way toward diabetes and heart disease, a new Harvard study shows.

Whether it’s chemically processed, cured, salted, or smoked, processed meat can up your risk for heart disease as much as 42% and Type 2 diabetes by 19%. “Processed meat such as bacon, salami, hot dogs, and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid,” says Harvard researcher Renata Micha, RD, PhD.

The good news is that this meta-analysis published in Circulation finds no higher heart or diabetes risk in people who eat only unprocessed meat. So treat yourself to a good, natural steak instead!

Ann Louise’s Take:

Meat from mostly grass-fed animals has 40% less saturated fat—and considerably more heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids including CLA—than grain-fed livestock. Grass-fed beef contains more beta-carotene and vitamin E too. No wonder research suggests this kind of meat can help lower your risk of body fat (think love handles) and cancer, as well as diabetes and heart disease.

Aim for a couple of 3 to 4 oz. servings of grass-fed beef a week. I have found Ranch Foods Direct grass-fed meats to be unusually tender and flavorful, definitely much more so than other grass-beef I’ve tasted. This meat also cooks 10 to 15% faster. Created by rancher/activist Mike Callicrate, Ranch Foods Direct has graciously agreed to give my followers a special discount. Please visit the website and then call 866-866-6328 to make your selection. Use the code “ALG.”

Sustainability Matters
The agricultural “advances” that have given us totally grain-fed cattle and poultry have also introduced antibiotics, pesticide residues, and synthetic hormones and additives into our food supply. This type of livestock production impacts far more than our metabolism of fats.

100% grain-fed meat presents serious ecological problems, taxing our environment. But mostly grass-fed animals are climate friendly: Feeding them doesn’t require fossil-fuel fertilizers and pesticides. Considering the carbon sequestered in the soils of well-managed pastures, some research also finds grass-fed animals to be carbon neutral.

Grilling Tips
Because grass-fed meats do have less fat than grain-fed, you need to rub them with a little olive oil before grilling. Always marinate protein foods in a thin, liquid sauce first to prevent the formation of cancer-causing substances. For added protection, add herbs like garlic and especially rosemary to your marinade to further reduce carcinogens, add flavor, and “beef” up nutrient value.

Rosemary, for instance, contains powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, as well as vitamin E (itself an antioxidant). Scientists at the National Institute of Agronomic Research in Dijon, France, find that rosemary encourages production of detoxifying enzymes including glutathione. Not only does this stimulate the liver to remove harmful toxins from the body but it also boosts energy levels.

For your Memorial Day cookout, try this recipe. It’s one of my faves.

Grass-Fed Steak with Garlic, Rosemary, Exotic Mushrooms, and Wine
Serves 8

2 cloves garlic
1 ¼ teaspoons dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
½ cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds sirloin steak, about ½ inch thick
4 cups exotic mushrooms (1 cup each of crimini, enoki, oyster, and portabello)
Place the garlic, rosemary, and half the red wine in a food processor and pulse until mixed thoroughly, adding half the olive oil to make a paste. Coat both sides of the steak and marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Grill or broil the steak on medium-high about 3 minutes, each side, for medium rare, or longer for medium. If you like your beef well-done, cook slowly at a lower temperature, after searing in the juices.

Saute cleaned and dried mushrooms in the remaining wine and oil to serve over steak, after slicing meat on the grain. (If you happen to have any leftovers, toss them in a salad the next day.)

Sources:
The Fat Flush Plan
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8688104.stm
http://herbsspices.suite101.com/article.cfm/rosemary—uses–health-benefits
www.alternet.org/health/146875/the_case_for_sustainable_meat
www.reuters.com/article/nonCyclicalConsumerGoodsSector/idUSN1725988220100517
www.thehealthierlife.co.uk/natural-remedies/herbs/rosemary-health-benefits-00145.html

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6 Responses to "Get Your Grill On"

  1. Mary says:

    The website that you are endorsing as grass-fed also feeds their cattle grains to finish. I have always heard that this actually negates the nutritional bonus over grass-fed, grass-finished beef. These cows are being fed corn and hay to fatten them up at the end. I understand the benefit of no hormones or antibiotics but grain is grain. Why do you endorse? I was all set to place an order until I read the faq’s.

  2. Administrator says:

    Dr. ALG still stands by her endorsement of Ranch Foods Direct, regardless of whether they use grains to fatten up the beef during the last 120 days. The reality is that Ranch Foods cattle is raised in Northwest Kansas where the growing season is limited without heavy rainfall which makes it impossible to produce totally grass-fed beef on a year round basis. Whether or not the beef is fed a limited amount of grains at the end in no way negates the nutritional value of the beef. Ranch Fed beef is in fact much healthier than other grass-fed beef which can be nutrient deficient. This is because Ranch Foods beef does contain high quality healthy fat, due to the way the beef is raised. Its superior nutrient profile provides high amounts of Omega 3′s and CLA. We are posting Mike Callicrate’s comments in a moment.

  3. Administrator says:

    Just in from Mike Callicrate:

    Yes, we do feed corn. We feed corn and forages grown on the same land that the manure from our cattle fertilizes, creating a symbiotic relationship between plants, animals and people.

    Just like in humans, the food they consume does affect their digestive system. Cattle are uniquely designed to digest roughage, high cellulose materials like grass, that humans are unable to digest. This is the real gift of the ruminant animals like cattle, sheep and goats. These animals can turn something useless to humans, like grass and other low quality forages, into high quality nutrition: meat and dairy products.

    I suggested to my friend Michael Pollan that in his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he made corn out to be a bigger evil than it actually is. Fed properly, corn — like barley, oats and other cereal grains — can be a very important part of a balanced diet for ruminant animals. You may have heard of the highly regarded animal behavioral expert Temple Grandin. Last summer, I was discussing Michael Pollan’s book and the feeding of corn to cattle with Temple over lunch. She exclaimed that cattle love corn and that there is a place for corn in cattle diets. I agreed, and responded that men love whiskey, too, but too much will kill them. Michael Pollan is now acknowledging the importance of combining plant and animal agriculture on family farms as opposed to the destructive monoculture approach of industrial farms.

    Unfortunately, in the big industrial system of beef production, so much corn is fed that huge amounts of antibiotics and rumen buffers are required to address the high acidity and life threatening bloat problems it causes. And yes, this unnaturally high acid environment is conducive to the growth of harmful bacteria. Corn is cheap, because it is highly subsidized, leading to its overuse.

    The cattle that produce our Callicrate Beef are raised on grass at St. Francis, Kansas, until they are weaned from their mothers at about six months of age. Then they are fed a healthy diet of natural forages and grain, requiring no antibiotics, until they are ready for market. This traditional method of beef production provides for the best possible quality of life for the animals in our climate, which is limited to a 120-day growing season, and the best possible year-round meat quality, while constantly improving our soils with valuable manure from our animals.

    As with all of our customers, you are welcome to visit our cattle operation in St. Francis, 200 miles northeast of Colorado Springs. We are currently in the midst of our annual spring calving season.

  4. Lea says:

    What does it mean when you say “Then they are fed a healthy diet …, requiring no antibiotics, until they are ready for market..”

  5. Margot says:

    The grass-fed beef raised around us in Virginia get some corn, and often some grain, in addition to pasture, for finishing. This makes for low-fat (or at least healthy fat) and very tender, delicious meat!
    It’s best if the corn is NOT genetically modified, though. But few successful farmers here want to use GM corn. (What a racket that is!)
    Antibiotics aren’t necessary for healthy livestock, and only create more antibiotic resistance in people.

  6. Susan says:

    Is grilling unhealthy? I read several things about it. Please lmk your opinion. Thanks.

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