According to a recent article on ScienceDaily, researchers at Kansas State University have found that by adding flaxseed (and technology) to a cow’s diet dramatically increases the amount of omega-3 fatty acids steak/hamburger/etc. the cow becomes.
The technology to enrich ground beef with omega-3s is a spinoff of flaxseed research [Jim] Drouillard began in 1998. Drouillard and his students studied flax for several of its omega-3 fatty acids that may suppress inflammation and reduce diabetes in cattle. Research showed that omega-3 levels dramatically increased in the cattle as more flaxseed was introduced into their diet.
The article doesn’t state whether or not these cows are grass fed or grain fed, but I don’t think it takes a giant leap of faith to think that this research was done on grain fed cows.
While I certainly applaud the research team’s creativity and desire to increase the amount of omega-3s in our diets, I still have some problems with this:
1. Here’s a novel idea: why don’t we just let cattle eat their normal grass diet and let the omega-3 fats increase that way? Why feed them something that’s not normally a part of their diet to get something they would already produce if you just let them be as they were meant to be?
Just an FYI – grass fed meat has twice as much omega-3s as corn fed beef.
2. First, a quote:
“As a society, Americans’ consumption of fish, especially fish that contributes to these omega-3 fats, is quite low compared to other proteins,” [Jim] Drouillard said. “Reasons for this include cost, access to fish and personal preference. Americans do, however, like hamburgers. So if we can give people a hamburger that is rich in omega-3s, it’s an alternative form of a product that they already eat and does not require a lifestyle change, which is difficult to make.”
Second, my response: Lame!
Unless there’s a medical reason why you can’t eat fish once or twice per week, it might be worth trying it. It’s really not that hard to get, it’s pretty easy to make and doesn’t really have to cost all that much. (Remember, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.)
Beyond that, the “does not require a lifestyle change” statement makes my blood come to a rolling boil. Given the obesity rates in America, MORE people need to make lifestyle changes, and it’s never going to happen if we keep accommodating the current behavior!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against finding ways to get people their omega-3s, or any other nutrient for that matter. I’m all for people being as healthy as possible. It would be great for America and our trillions of dollars in debt if this actually happened.
What I just don’t get is why we have to change things around so that the end result is exactly what things would have been if we simply hadn’t made any changes. (I know that sentence doesn’t read well, but if you read it a few times you might be able to figure out what I’m trying to say.)
On the flip side – grass fed meat is incredibly expensive, so if feeding flax to cows is a way of making the meat more nutritious while keeping costs low, it might be worth it. Who knows. I guess time will tell.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think creating omega-3 enriched meat is the way to go? Do you think we should just let cows eat their natural diet and go from there? Leave your comment below and share with the group.