14

votes

Is conventional animal fat really that bad?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 06, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Everybody's seen the common recommendation: if eating conventionally-raised animal product, stick to lean meats.

An old caveman's tale? What's so bad about conventionally-raised animal fat? Let's see the data, not the party line. I have a feeling the difference in the actual product is very minimal.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on April 06, 2013
at 12:23 AM

yes..less than optimal :) same as plant proteins..beep beep

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 05, 2013
at 04:31 PM

Refeeding ruminants to ruminents is banned (though we cannot be sure that it's not happening unseen). BSE most definitely exists in the US cattle population, even if it is not detected... It is at an extremely low level though.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on December 06, 2012
at 10:17 PM

AHS 12 videos are here: http://vimeo.com/ancestralhealthsymposium/videos

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on December 06, 2012
at 10:15 PM

AHS 12 videos are here: http://vimeo.com/ancestralhealthsymposium/videos

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 02, 2012
at 02:38 AM

"Is conventional animal fat really that bad?" -Nope

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 12, 2012
at 11:33 AM

I haven't seen any AHS12 presentations posted yet. #impatient!

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 12, 2012
at 04:38 AM

Do you have a link to that presentation, by the way?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 09, 2012
at 01:19 AM

I prefer fatty cuts to provide about a 65/35 fat to protein ratio. It is one of the arguments that the Jaminets had put forth in the PHD for optimal macro breakdowns and it actually made quite a bit of sense to me. With that sort of ratio I would rarely have to add extra butters and oils to my meals.....just cook the veggies in that fat that is dripping off.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:35 PM

There is some risk for grass fed beef if the beef is near contaminated places or plastics manufacturing. Otherwise, it is the feeding of animal fats to other animals that causes a lot of the concentration.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:32 PM

who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en : "Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals." Dioxins are monitored by the FDA, specifically around animal feeds. Of course, their suggestion is "eat less saturated fat."

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:32 PM

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/ : Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. Dioxins are monitored by the FDA, specifically around animal feeds. Of course, their suggestion is "eat less saturated fat."

7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on September 08, 2012
at 12:11 PM

+1 for "performance-enhanced beef" (and a healthy dose of skepticism)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:07 AM

Can't say I can detect huge differences in meat flavor myself.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:06 AM

Well, a lot of folks repeat that sort of refrain... nobody here is repeating it though. :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:05 AM

I don't think that leanness of one degree or another makes a meat any better or worse than another, just different. Grass-fed > CAFO definitely. But the idea that if you can't do grass-fed that CAFO meat must only be lean doesn't seem to have the facts behind it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:02 AM

That's the theory. But I want to see the man behind the curtain.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 08, 2012
at 12:37 AM

I'm not so sure on the "tastes better" for grassfed. I know a couple of older Europeans who have adult children in the U.S. and every time they visit they eat a lot of steak because they think it's so much better here. (Maybe just more tender b/c of the marbling from corn feeding? That's my assumption. Grassfed is delicious - provided you know how to cook it without turning it into shoe leather.)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 07, 2012
at 03:19 PM

Yeah...I have no idea about the toxin issue. I just know that (for *me*, at least) eating plenty of fatty cuts from conventionally raised/fed animals (plus pure fats like butter & heavy cream) didn't affect my health - at least not on paper, if we go by blood lipids and all that jazz. I looked and felt great, but who knows...maybe there *were* (and still are) toxins building up in my system that will rear their ugly heads down the line...

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 07, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Exclude it, that is.

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 07, 2012
at 01:09 PM

I don't. :P

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:40 PM

I think "toxins" are behind the don't eat conventional fat phobia and I'm not convinced that there's much there to be concerned about, though I'm open to having my opinion on the matter changed.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Interesting, I'll read that one. :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:38 PM

That goes without saying, but what's so wrong with the fat in conventional meat that you must exclude it if that's all you can do?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:36 PM

Nutritional profile might be less than optimal, but I wouldn't consider it harmful/bad. Maybe I'm mistaken. The others are concerns, though I think a recent presentation at AHS12 puts hormones in perspective.

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 06, 2012
at 10:38 PM

No, just that it might be a better idea to eat grass fed.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 10:29 PM

All good, but nothing that says avoiding conventional fat is a good idea.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 09:38 PM

Yes, I'm asking from strictly human health and nutrition POV. You're not getting ethical beef from WalMart. But common refrain, eat lean conventional meat, I'm just asking if there's truth behind that or just paleo party line.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 09:36 PM

Robb Wolf tweeted a photo from the hormone presentation, pretty much made me conclude that the additional hormones from performance-enhanced beef aren't significant. As for the fat ratio, it's true that beef not grass-fed are deficient in omega-3 FA, but even grass-fed beef has neligible omega-3 fats because total PUFA is quite low.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 06, 2012
at 08:30 PM

Clarification on my previous comment: I'm not saying it's *right* to administer growth hormones to animals. But I think Matt is asking from a purely scientific/nutritional standpoint, not from an animal right/ethics POV. Both are important, but it does seem like sometimes the scientific data doesn't necessarily say what we *want* it to say. (Just ask any of the vegan or vegetarian converts to Paleo, who avoided meat for ethical reasons.)

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 06, 2012
at 08:01 PM

Is the omega 6 fat in conventionally raised chickens and and ruminants LA or AA? Does anybody know?

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on September 06, 2012
at 07:50 PM

It was Peter Ballerstedt, PhD and he is with Grass Based Health out of Philomath, OR. I need to watch that one again when they get around to posting the videos.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on September 06, 2012
at 07:35 PM

Amy, do you know who. I was there and heard it but it is not in my notes. They also said something about using alfalfa instead of corn and it changes the fat profile favorably.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 06, 2012
at 06:58 PM

I think someone did a presentation at AHS this year looking at the hormones in grassfed vs conventional meats and the evidence was *not* all that strong for huge amounts of hormones in the regular stuff. Not sure who it was...you can probably Google it. I think all the presentations will be free online at some point.

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 06, 2012
at 06:49 PM

The typical concerns are hormones, antibiotics, and nutritional profile. Anything else that should be addressed (in addition to those)?

  • 32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

    asked by

    (41757)
  • Views
    3.4K
  • Last Activity
    1279D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

9 Answers

best answer

4
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 06, 2012
at 06:53 PM

Not sure I should be replying here, since you tend to give some pretty great science and evidence-based answers and I'm not quite going there. BUT...that being said, I would imagine the biggest difference between the fat of conventionally raised animals and that of pastured/grass-fed/what-have-you, is probably the amount of vitamins. We think of things like butter and egg yolks as being rich sources of K2, but that's probably only true of ruminants eating grass and chickens pecking around for grubs and also greens. (They convert the K1 in the greens to K2, right?)

Lard from pastured pork is supposed to be pretty high in D, but again, not sure that would hold true for conventional pigs. There's probably still some, but maybe not as much. Supposed to be a good source of palmitoleic acid too, but again, not sure to what degree that's affected by an animal's diet. It makes sense that their diet would affect their fatty acid makeup -- after all, it does for humans.

People seem to get concerned about the "toxins" stored in the fat of conventionally raised animals, but I don't think that's such a huge issue.

I'm not saying the conventional stuff is ideal, but all I know is, a few years ago when I was just your basic low-carber (before any worries about food quality,) I was eating everything from the regular store -- butter, meat, chicken, and yes, conventional/industrial salad dressings and mayo, loaded with soybean oil, and my blood lipids and other markers were great.

Maybe there's a little of the "nocebo" effect going on with certain things. I'm about to start a nutrition practice, and while it would be nice to tell everyone to go all grass-fed/pastured, lemme tell ya, I'm perfectly okay (for now) with recommending conventional stuff. I'd rather see someone have cheapo eggs and bacon for breakfast than toast and jam, know what I mean?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:40 PM

I think "toxins" are behind the don't eat conventional fat phobia and I'm not convinced that there's much there to be concerned about, though I'm open to having my opinion on the matter changed.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 07, 2012
at 03:19 PM

Yeah...I have no idea about the toxin issue. I just know that (for *me*, at least) eating plenty of fatty cuts from conventionally raised/fed animals (plus pure fats like butter & heavy cream) didn't affect my health - at least not on paper, if we go by blood lipids and all that jazz. I looked and felt great, but who knows...maybe there *were* (and still are) toxins building up in my system that will rear their ugly heads down the line...

11
4a3e11b83837f1c1f22fc28122ed505e

(125)

on September 06, 2012
at 06:51 PM

Im no expert but the fat built up from grain feeding has much lower levels of omega 3 but substantial amount of omega 6, although I understand the omega 6 rate of Grass fed is still high, although balanced by the omega 3. If you supplement or boost your omega 3 elsewhere then I say it's not much different to eat the 'conventional' but that's not to say its not worth seeking grass fed and perhaps paying a little more for it. Let's face it, it tastes way superior and that's important! And let's not forge the fact that non organic meat always contains 'amounts' of antibiotics and although heavily regulated you dont really want any in your meat, do you?

You obviously then have the environmental issues caused by 'conventional' farming. Every time you buy 'conventional' you are casting your vote to keep it in the stores. I think it's a disgrace they way animals are treated and raised 'conventionally' and I would so much prefer to hand my money to the organic real farming industry that works with nature and not against it. After all that's 'paleo' too right?

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 06, 2012
at 08:30 PM

Clarification on my previous comment: I'm not saying it's *right* to administer growth hormones to animals. But I think Matt is asking from a purely scientific/nutritional standpoint, not from an animal right/ethics POV. Both are important, but it does seem like sometimes the scientific data doesn't necessarily say what we *want* it to say. (Just ask any of the vegan or vegetarian converts to Paleo, who avoided meat for ethical reasons.)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 09:36 PM

Robb Wolf tweeted a photo from the hormone presentation, pretty much made me conclude that the additional hormones from performance-enhanced beef aren't significant. As for the fat ratio, it's true that beef not grass-fed are deficient in omega-3 FA, but even grass-fed beef has neligible omega-3 fats because total PUFA is quite low.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 09:38 PM

Yes, I'm asking from strictly human health and nutrition POV. You're not getting ethical beef from WalMart. But common refrain, eat lean conventional meat, I'm just asking if there's truth behind that or just paleo party line.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:07 AM

Can't say I can detect huge differences in meat flavor myself.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on September 06, 2012
at 07:35 PM

Amy, do you know who. I was there and heard it but it is not in my notes. They also said something about using alfalfa instead of corn and it changes the fat profile favorably.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on September 06, 2012
at 07:50 PM

It was Peter Ballerstedt, PhD and he is with Grass Based Health out of Philomath, OR. I need to watch that one again when they get around to posting the videos.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 06, 2012
at 06:58 PM

I think someone did a presentation at AHS this year looking at the hormones in grassfed vs conventional meats and the evidence was *not* all that strong for huge amounts of hormones in the regular stuff. Not sure who it was...you can probably Google it. I think all the presentations will be free online at some point.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 08, 2012
at 12:37 AM

I'm not so sure on the "tastes better" for grassfed. I know a couple of older Europeans who have adult children in the U.S. and every time they visit they eat a lot of steak because they think it's so much better here. (Maybe just more tender b/c of the marbling from corn feeding? That's my assumption. Grassfed is delicious - provided you know how to cook it without turning it into shoe leather.)

7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on September 08, 2012
at 12:11 PM

+1 for "performance-enhanced beef" (and a healthy dose of skepticism)

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on December 06, 2012
at 10:17 PM

AHS 12 videos are here: http://vimeo.com/ancestralhealthsymposium/videos

5
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on September 06, 2012
at 07:21 PM

I don't know enough science to argue the fatty acid balances and stuff, but there's been evidence of potent enough lingering antibiotics in conventional meat that is strong enough to kill friendly lactobacillus cultures used in uncured sausages. That's enough for me to at least buy antibiotic-free meat.
http://www.science20.com/news_articles/antibiotic_residues_uncured_sausage_meats_potent_enough_weaken_helpful_bacteria-93410

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Interesting, I'll read that one. :)

4
276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 06, 2012
at 07:04 PM

From one of a couple of studies I have bookmarked (link):

  1. More CLA and CLA precursors
  2. More n-3
  3. Longer-chain SFAs
  4. More Vitamin A & E Precursors
  5. More antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismutase.

I'd be interested to see any studies that compare the levels of hormones and antibiotics, if anyone has them.

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 06, 2012
at 10:38 PM

No, just that it might be a better idea to eat grass fed.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 10:29 PM

All good, but nothing that says avoiding conventional fat is a good idea.

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 07, 2012
at 01:09 PM

I don't. :P

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 06, 2012
at 11:38 PM

That goes without saying, but what's so wrong with the fat in conventional meat that you must exclude it if that's all you can do?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:06 AM

Well, a lot of folks repeat that sort of refrain... nobody here is repeating it though. :)

276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on September 07, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Exclude it, that is.

2
4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 12:58 AM

Toxins accumulate in fat stores, which is why CAFO fat is so bad for you. Yes, grass fed is better, and nutritionally they might be the same,must it is the toxins (pesticides, antibiotics, etc) that store in fat cells that make it bad.

(just like how people can break out when they start loosing fat, from the accumulated toxins.)

For me, I eat grass fed beef because it tastes better, but I would not turn down CAFO fatty steak if it were Offered. But, for lard and tallow, I only cook with pastured or grass fed versions.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:32 PM

who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en : "Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals." Dioxins are monitored by the FDA, specifically around animal feeds. Of course, their suggestion is "eat less saturated fat."

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:02 AM

That's the theory. But I want to see the man behind the curtain.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:35 PM

There is some risk for grass fed beef if the beef is near contaminated places or plastics manufacturing. Otherwise, it is the feeding of animal fats to other animals that causes a lot of the concentration.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:32 PM

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/ : Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. Dioxins are monitored by the FDA, specifically around animal feeds. Of course, their suggestion is "eat less saturated fat."

2
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 07, 2012
at 11:40 PM

If I were to put it on a continuum I would still place a nice fatty piece of CAFO meat above a lean CAFO meat on my list. Seems like that is your question and IMO I don't avoid fatty meat....CAFO or not....but, I do spend the extra bucks on the grass fed local cow in recognition that it is the "best" choice.

Lots of paleo is about good, better, best..... Grass fed fatty beef > Grass fed lean beef > CAFO fatty beef > CAFO lean beef. That is my ranking anyhow.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:05 AM

I don't think that leanness of one degree or another makes a meat any better or worse than another, just different. Grass-fed > CAFO definitely. But the idea that if you can't do grass-fed that CAFO meat must only be lean doesn't seem to have the facts behind it.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 09, 2012
at 01:19 AM

I prefer fatty cuts to provide about a 65/35 fat to protein ratio. It is one of the arguments that the Jaminets had put forth in the PHD for optimal macro breakdowns and it actually made quite a bit of sense to me. With that sort of ratio I would rarely have to add extra butters and oils to my meals.....just cook the veggies in that fat that is dripping off.

1
19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on December 04, 2012
at 12:23 AM

I think the benefits of the conventional animal fat outweigh the negatives. So I eat conventional animal fat. But if I were planning on having children, I would eat strictly grass fed for a couple of years before I get pregnant.

"Right or wrong" is all relative to the situation. I think it's better to eat the conventional animal fat if that's all you've got, rather than let it go to waste. But like I said, if I were going to have a child? I want that child to be as healthy as possible, so I would prepare my body by ditching conventional animals and vegetables for 2-3 years before getting pregnant.

0
2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on April 05, 2013
at 04:15 PM

the only real reason i dont eat conventional meat is my fear of mad cow disease. i was always under the impression that cows are fed the slaughterhouse waste of other cows, including the spinal cord.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 05, 2013
at 04:31 PM

Refeeding ruminants to ruminents is banned (though we cannot be sure that it's not happening unseen). BSE most definitely exists in the US cattle population, even if it is not detected... It is at an extremely low level though.

0
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on December 01, 2012
at 05:34 AM

Nutritionally, no (aside from less than optimal nutrient profile as you acknowledge above). Environmentally, yes. Ethically, yes.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!