There are many nutrients we need to obtain from our diets, as we cannot synthesize them ourselves. The essential fatty acids of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid (LA) and Omega-3 Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) are just two. However, many of us eat too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3, placing us at risk for many diseases.
Today the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio in the average Western diet is five times higher than that of only a century ago. Nutritionists attribute part of this to the consumption of grain- and corn fed animals and the use of vegetable oils such as sunflower and safflower, which are high in Omega-6. Omega-6’s are also found in abundance in cakes, cookies, pastries, fast food and fatty, high calorie snacks.
Indeed, some research suggests that the average North American consumes a ratio of fifteen to sixteen Omega-6 fats to one Omega-3 fat, which may contribute to cardio-vascular, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as certain cancers. The analysis conducted by Dr. Richard Bazinet, Canada Research Chair in Brain Lipid Metabolism, found that grass-fed dairy contains high levels of Omega-3 and heart protecting Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) fats and has a greatly improved Omega 6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio.
It is widely believed that there are substantial nutritional and health benefits to a diet with a more balanced ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nutritionists agree that a ratio of three Omega-6’s to one Omega-3 is an optimal balance. Balance is the key.
Recent research in an independent analysis conducted by a University of Toronto associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences found that this balanced ratio is significantly higher in meat and dairy products derived from grass-fed animals.
According to the study, animals fed a plant-based diet are a healthier source of a balanced fat content; and, according to many food experts, their meat tastes better. They are also lower in saturated fat and overall fat than animals fed a grain-based diet of predominantly corn, which is very high in Omega-6 and contains virtually no Omega-3’s.
Moreover, studies continue to show that people who consume a diet higher in Omega-3 content are generally healthier and less susceptible to heart disease and depression.
Grass, not grain, is the diet cows should be eating
A cow’s stomach is PH neutral at 7, compared to your stomach that is extremely acidic at around 2. A cow’s stomach is the perfect environment for digesting grass, but it is not so good for digesting dried corn and grains. High in starch and low in roughage (fibre), calcium, and magnesium, dried corn turns the cow’s stomach acidic. This not only causes the cow intestinal distress, it provides the perfect conditions for pathogens to flourish.
Cows that are grass-fed are healthier, and farmers who have moved to feeding their cattle grass report a 60% to 80% drop in vet bills. The animals spend most of their time outdoors at pasture and are sick less often.
The meat from grazing animals also has 3-5 times more CLA than their grainfed counterparts. CLA has been shown to have beneficial effects on weight loss, cardiovascular disease, immune function, inflammation, food-induced allergic reactions and osteoporosis.
CLA is a fatty acid with powerful health benefits that occurs naturally through the digestive process of grass fed animals, such as cows, goats and sheep.
And if all that wasn’t benefit enough, raising animals that eat grass is more environmentally friendly as more nutrients are returned to the soil through the animal’s manure, creating a natural, sustainable and organic fertilizer.
“The evidence we found supports their theory that grass- and pasture-fed animals that are humanely treated throughout their lifespan, and have a lower environmental impact, also have a much superior ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids.” says Dr. Bazinet. “The local food movement is here to stay. Nutrition and health are playing bigger roles in consumers’ purchasing decisions and the more people know, the more they realize the options they have.”