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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Wild caught, grass-fed and organic vs. the rest

grassfed beef, wild caught fish, free range poultry
Our goal as your doctors is to help you make smarter choices when filling your grocery basket. As part of our nutrition program, Lifestyle Medical Treatment, we share that these choices include adding wild caught fish, grass-fed beef and organic chicken to your meals, rather than the standard farmed, corn-fed and caged fish, meat and poultry that are readily available.

While we understand that the price point can be a deciding factor when choosing between a $20 per pound organic, grass-fed New York strip steak and a conventional New York strip steak for $15 per pound, or $2.37 per pound for organic poultry compared to $0.80 per pound for conventional poultry, we believe the health benefits should play a factor in your budget and decision making.

Poultry, specifically chicken, and beef that spend most of their lives outdoors grazing, have more lean muscle growth and typically have less fat accumulation than their cage- or barn-bound counterparts. This usually results in a meatier taste with less fat, which is definitely healthier for you.

Spending more time out in the pasture or outdoors, allows the animals to forage from the vegetation (and grass-dwelling insects in the case of poultry), providing supplemental nutrients, resulting in a healthier animal overall. Scientists have found that both beef and poultry that are not fed on a corn-based diet have higher levels of healthy omega-3s, which are then passed on to the consumer. Grass-fed beef, for example, has a third less fat per serving and contains 35 milligrams of omega-3s, almost double that of grain-fed beef.

Why are these animals fed on grains? Just like humans who eat diets high in carbohydrates, the animals put on weight (and fat) quickly, allowing an efficient sale cycle for the farmer, instead of allowing the animals to roam and graze at will.

Toxins are usually found in higher quantities in poultry, beef or fish that are farmed under specific conditions. Injecting poultry, cows or farmed fish with antibiotics has been shown to lead to drug-resistant bacteria, causing a higher chance of food-borne illnesses for the consumer. Farmed salmon, for example, also has the highest levels of toxic man-made chemicals, especially when comparing farmed Atlantic salmon to wild Pacific salmon.

When it comes to fish, however, it seems the benefits of eating any of the omega-3-rich fish outweigh any perceived risks, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association; the benefit is shown to be between 300 and 1,000 times greater from getting the omega-3s.

We hope you keep all of this in mind when heading over to the butcher or deli section of your store. The most expensive meats may not be the best choice for your family or budget, but now you can make informed decisions based on the packaging and information available to you.

Photo credit: Flickr user felice1953. Used with permission through Creative Commons.