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Is n-3 fat in pastured beef ALA or DHA/EPA?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 26, 2012 at 2:27 AM

Hello,

There are many sources which state the n-3 fat in pastured beef is DHA/EPA rather than ALA. E.g. from KGH:

"DHA/EPA are found in pastured butter, beef and lamb, and fatty fish."
There is No Such Thing as a Macronutrient Part I - Fats

But then I recently found other sources saying that pastured beef is mostly ALA. E.g. from Slanker's Grass-Fed Meats:

ALA: 1.08%
EPA: 0.02%
DHA: 0.01%
Fatty Acid Analysis

Which is correct? Is the answer the same for eggs from pastured chickens? I have been relying primarily on pastured beef and pastured eggs for my n-3, but wondering if it's important to consume fish more frequently given that ALA is not efficiently converted to DHA/EPA in humans.

Thanks,

Mike


UPDATE:

Here is another data point which shows that beef has both ALA and EPA/DHA:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/126583/alpha-linolenic-acid-underrated-neolithic-agent-of-disease/126644#126644

And, a good point was made in the comments of this response that the levels of ALA/EPA/DHA likely vary depending on breed/pasture/etc:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/126583/alpha-linolenic-acid-underrated-neolithic-agent-of-disease/126585#126585

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on March 26, 2012
at 11:39 PM

matt, what do you think of phytanic acid in grassfed meat and dairy? It activates expression of AMPK, PPARdelta and RXR a lot like DHA/EPA for health and inflammation control.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 26, 2012
at 10:23 PM

I'd probably say it's worth seeking out fish at least on a weekly basis even if you're keeping O6 low.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on March 26, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Good point. So I guess as long as excess n-6 is avoided, then no need to intentionally seek out fish for n-3.

627cf3f5d1ddfb4c2f4c96169420f55f

(1621)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:54 PM

Well said. Beef is low in polyunsaturated fats to begin with which is why its best to eat more beef compared to pork or chicken. We don't need a lot of these fats, just a healthy balance.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on March 26, 2012
at 04:56 AM

I added one more link. It does seem strange though...

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on March 26, 2012
at 04:37 AM

That surprises me since all mammals need DHA/EPA. Why would they store ALA?

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2 Answers

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2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on March 26, 2012
at 02:35 AM

It is looking like ALA. Here is a piece and there are many like this. However I am looking for a better quote...

http://smokinchoices.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/grass-fed-beef-paleo/

There is little argument that grass fed cattle accumulates more omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues than grain fed cattle 5, 10-28. This nutrient amplification in tissues occurs because the concentration of 18:3n3 (alpha linolenic acid [ALA]) in pasture grass is 10 to 15 times higher than in grain or typical feedlot concentrates25. In mammals the liver represents the primary tissue which chain elongates and desaturates 18:3n3 into long chain omega-3 fatty acids (20:5n3, 22:5n3 and 22:6n3) which then can be deposited in muscles and other tissues41.

No grassfed beef. However venison is listed. All the Beef and also the venison is ALA:

http://www.rd411.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1574:omega-3-vs-omega-6-content-of-meat-poultry-and-fish&catid=98:heart-health&Itemid=392

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on March 26, 2012
at 04:56 AM

I added one more link. It does seem strange though...

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on March 26, 2012
at 04:37 AM

That surprises me since all mammals need DHA/EPA. Why would they store ALA?

4
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 26, 2012
at 12:02 PM

FYI: beef is not a good source of PUFAs, omega-3 or omega-6. Even grass-fed, it's not a good source of omega-3s, at best, you could say it was balanced.

ALA converts to DHA/EPA based on our bodies need for it. It's not efficient, but then the bodies need for both aren't all that high to begin with. The lower amount of DHA/EPA in your diet, the better the conversion from ALA to DHA/EPA is. Considering how rare concentrated source of DHA/EPA is, this makes sense, don't you think?

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on March 26, 2012
at 11:39 PM

matt, what do you think of phytanic acid in grassfed meat and dairy? It activates expression of AMPK, PPARdelta and RXR a lot like DHA/EPA for health and inflammation control.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on March 26, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Good point. So I guess as long as excess n-6 is avoided, then no need to intentionally seek out fish for n-3.

627cf3f5d1ddfb4c2f4c96169420f55f

(1621)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:54 PM

Well said. Beef is low in polyunsaturated fats to begin with which is why its best to eat more beef compared to pork or chicken. We don't need a lot of these fats, just a healthy balance.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 26, 2012
at 10:23 PM

I'd probably say it's worth seeking out fish at least on a weekly basis even if you're keeping O6 low.

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