Mar 30, 2015 03:40 PM EDT
If you're trying to watch your cholesterol and keep your heart generally healthy, you may think that red meat is the bane of your existence. However, a recent paper from Texas A&M may suggest otherwise, as reported on Physorg.
Particularly they were trying to examine how fattening, and marbling, affected all qualities of the meat. Generally speaking, the higher the quality of beef the more marbling there is. That means tiny pockets of fat within the muscle tissue. This often leads to an enhanced flavor and texture, but these researchers found it may even be healthier.
They found that cattle that had been fattened up more not only had the desirable marbling, but more of that fat was healthy for humans. Less saturated fat and more unsaturated fat, including oleic acid which is considered highly beneficial. They cited 2010 study in which both men and women were randomly fed either normal ground beef or ground beef from additionally fattened cattle.
The results were an increase in good cholesterol, and decrease in bad cholesterol, in the group that ate the higher fat ground beef. However, this was only one study and the sample size was relatively small. So be sure to take these results with a grain of salt. (Also ideally some freshly ground black pepper.) Everything should be taken in moderation, but when you do indulge in red meat definitely go for high quality and high marbling, since you may get some of the benefits found in good fats like olive oil.
While we're on the subject of cows, the beef industry actually has a slightly better animal welfare reputation then the dairy industry, at least in one regard. Many beef cows are bred so that they don't have horns (via Physorg) Horns can cause many problems, including the cattle injuring each other and workers. A dominant trait can be bred into the population so that cattle just naturally don't have horns.
The dairy industry on the other hand, has continued to simply remove the horn buds from cattle when they are young. Although anesthetic is meant to be used, it often isn't, and this has raised certain animal welfare issues. Many big companies are now asking the dairy industry to move toward breeding in hornlessness, and some even stating they will preferentially buy from farms that do. Although many dairy farmers say this will take time, as dairy cattle genetics is a much slower prospect than in the beef industry.
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