Most modern humans aspire to be carnivorous, but the health gurus are always admonishing them to eat less meat and eat more veggies and things. In fact, meat, particularly red meat, is seen as a ticket for some kind of catastrophic cardiac event.
So what is the real story.
As with most things, the truth of the matter lies somewhere between the extremes.
A steak dinner tonight
Our cave man ancestors, following the so called Paleo diet, worked hard for their dinner.
Dining on a piece of rump steak began hours before the event, sometimes several days earlier. Step one required a suitable hunk of meat to be selected – big enough to feed the tribe, something not too old or sickly, but not too virile either. (An angry buffalo could be lethal if all you had to defend yourself was a pointy stick or two).
Once the beast had been “targeted”. The hunt began in earnest, the animal was tracked, often for miles and a plan put in place to bring it down. Different strategies were used and success was not a guarantee. When the hunk of meat was finally secured, the job of processing and packaging it for consumption began. The whole thing was hard work.
Contrast this to the steak you’re planning for dinner.
- Maybe you’ll just pull into the local steakhouse and order it. A waiter will deliver the cooked steak to you. You didn’t lift a finger.
- Okay, maybe you’re not eating out, then you will actually have to lift a finger or two. You used your fingers to drive you to the supermarket and secure a packet of prime beef. You also used your fingers to cook it.
So cave men were REAL men eating steak, but there is actually a little more to it.
Cave man meat was REAL meat
The steak on the dinner menu 10 000 years ago, may have been a little tougher than that fillet (who knows if it was tenderized and then marinated in a special barbeque sauce), but that is not the REAL difference.
Researchers from Purdue University have done a little chemical analysis on the meats that people 10 000 years ago would have been eating and those currently being consumed by modern man. Chemically they are a little different.
Wild game, such as venison or elk meat, as well as grass-fed beef, contain a different mix of fats – more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 is good. Omega-6 is bad especially when there is too much of it.
The modern diet is short on omega-3 and overloaded with omega-6, which causes a state of underlying low grade inflammation. Low grade inflammation is at the root of most modern maladies, particularly those associated with obesity. Omega page
Go paleo, go wild
Modern hunter-gatherer societies, there are still a few in isolated pockets in Africa and Asia, don’t appear to suffer too much form high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, despite the fact that they are BIG meat eaters.
But the secret to their heart health, is not in the meat per se, but in the fact that their meat is eating grass, not grain.
So if you’re going paleo, you might need to get out the spear and hunt down your dinner. Supermarket meat is NOT REAL enough and doesn’t take as much effort to secure.
Carnivores just need to go grain free
The good news, a juicy steak is not the heart attack waiting to happen, as long as you get the omega ratio right.
Unfortunately getting the balance of fats right is pretty difficult to do because omega-6 is found in high levels in oil seed crops.
We eat lots of these ………….
- we eat them in our breakfast cereals, pizzas, pastas and bread
- we eat them in our fish, today a high percentage of fish is farmed, farmed fish eat grains
- we eat them in our chicken eggs and poultry, remember Farmer Brown’s chickens taste so good ‘cause they eat so good.
- we eat these in our meat, farmers usually supplement the animals’ grass diet with grains to fatten them up faster.
Getting the omega ratio right
Avoiding meat won’t miraculously solve the omega ratio problem – omega-6 is EVERYWHERE.
So how can you have your
cake meat and eat it.
- If you can afford it, pay the premium for grass fed beef, it is likely to be better for you. Remember to choose steak over sausages.
- If you budget doesn’t extend to grass fed beef platters, work on getting your eicosanoids balanced by taking an omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 stops the side effects of obesity.
NB. Make sure you only take omega-3 – buying a product with omega-6 is just wasting your money.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry of the foods you eat ?
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