January 2016 update: New research suggests that restricting the amino acid methionine may be a very important anti-cancer and anti-aging strategy. “If I had cancer, I would certainly seek to restrict methionine in my diet, probably to 1 gram a day ” says Australian researcher Dr. Paul Cavuoto. Animal muscle is rich in methionine so keep consumption low, especially if you have cancer.
Who said you can’t have a little beef every now and then on an anti-cancer diet? Just make sure it’s organic and grass-fed.
Commercial cows are fattened on large amounts of grains—starches high in carbs and in omega 6 fats. But let them graze all their lives in leafy green pastures, and now you’re talking. Those grasses, shrubs, herbs and sedges are plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids, much better for them and for you. (Remember, 6s are pro- and 3s are anti-inflammatory, and we’re trying to increase the latter in our anti-cancer diets.)
Grass fed meat is also lower in saturated fat than regular beef and boasts another healthy fatty acid: CLA or conjugated linoleic acid, which some studies have associated with lowering your cancer risk. And it contains other healthy vitamins and minerals, including selenium and Vitamin E.
So where to get grass-fed beef? Locally, if you can. Here’s a helpful website where you can find some nearby sources or order from afar: www.eatwild.com. (And if you live near Montreal, Morgan Farms is a good source.)
If the farmer’s on the eatwild site or carries the American Grass-fed Association certification, you can be sure that your cow’s gotten all grass all the time, was raised on pastures and not in confinement, and had no hormones or antibiotics. Otherwise, scrutinize the labels.
Look for “grass-fed, grass finished” or “100 percent grass-fed beef” or “raised and finished on pasture without added feed.” These mean cows got all grass all their lives.
Actually, almost all cows are raised on grass for their first months. Then, when they weigh about 600 plus pounds, commercial cows get sent to feedlots to get fattened on corn, soy and “by-product feedstuff”–candy, pizza dough, pasta, bakery and potato waste or any other ingredient that promotes growth without causing obvious harm. In 3 to 4 months, the cows double their weight while their stores of 3s diminish. Although grass fed cows are supposed to spend all their life on grass alone, some farmers slip in some grain to beef them up.
“Grass-fed”: This label, standing alone, leaves room for questioning.“Most farmers use the term ‘grass-fed’ to represent all grass all the time, but there have been a number of unscrupulous people who call their meat ‘grass-fed’ when the animals were finished (fattened) on grain or other feed. This does not occur as often as people fear.”—Jo Robinson, eatwild.com.
“Pasteured beef” means the same as “grass fed.”
Read between the lines. If you live in Canada or another country that does not regulate use of the term “grass fed” and the farmer’s not listed on the eatwild site, then ask him or her what s/he means by the claims.
And make sure your beef is organic—meaning no hormones, no antibiotics, raised on organically certified sources. Organic certification alone does not mean it’s grass-fed.
Ready for the final secret to our anti-cancer pasture pie? Instead of starchy white potatoes, cook and then mash some cauliflower and onions to top it off.