CLA levels in different meats

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 30, 2010 at 12:08 PM

I'll have the opportunity to purchase a whole pastured lamb soon, and was wondering about the CLA content of the meat versus say... Beef. They both work out to be around the same price per pound. Since I've read that Sheep milk has a higher CLA content than cow or goat, I was curious if the same is true for the meat.

(Sorry if this question has been addressed already!)

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1 Answers



on July 30, 2010
at 11:29 PM

I'll start by saying that I don't thinks its really a good idea to choose what you eat on the basis of any single nutrient, however beneficial it may be. Food like beef or lamb are complex containing many different nutrients in varying amounts, the best plan is usually to eat a wide a varitey of foods.

To answer you question. Grass-fed lamb on average probably has more conjugated linleic acid (CLA) in it than grass-fed beef, but not a great deal more. However this depends on several different factors:

  • What the animals are fed: Grain-fed cows or sheep will have less CLA than grass-fed. Lambs supplemented with seed oil (such as sunflower oil) will also have higher CLA.
  • Lambs born as twins have less CLA than single lambs, they have to share the milk containing the CLA. Lambs born to mothers with high CLA levels will get more of it in the milk.
  • Individual genetics: Two different lambs fed the same diet can have quite different percentages of CLA in their meat.
  • The CLA content of meat and fat varies in different parts of the animal.

So as you can see any number given for the amount of CLA in different meats will be a very rough estimate of the average amount. Both beef and lamb are a good source on CLA and many different animals contain smaller amounts.

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