By now, if you follow the latest diet trends you might be a little confused. What’s the best way to eat if you want to be healthy? Should you follow a low fat, high carb diet or just the opposite? Should you eat like a caveman or live on protein shakes?
If you’ve always thought that Grandpa and Grandma ate what they wanted to and seemed to do just fine — you may be right.
Over the decades, many medical experts have led us to think that red meat, whole milk, eggs and bacon are enemies to good health and a healthy heart. But are these deeply ingrained beliefs really accurate?
It doesn’t seem so. A meta analysis (a review of research about previous research) of almost 400 studies indicate that saturated fat rich foods like beef and full fat dairy won’t increase your risk for heart disease..(1)
Another study, executed by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University between 2007 and early 2009, showed that a daily serving (between 4 and 5.5 ounces of lean beef) actually reduced cholesterol levels when eaten alongside a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
Grass-fed beef delivers superior benefits
To ensure you’re getting the highest quality beef, look for grass fed and grass finished beef. The fat in cattle raised under these conditions delivers three to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a powerful fatty acid, than the CLA in grain feed cattle.
CLA is also found in raw, grass-fed dairy.
The proven benefits of conjugated linoleic acid include:
- Improvements in long-term weight management
- lowered inflammation within the body
- improvements in insulin resistance
- reduction of tumor size in patients who have cancer
- lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
In addition to CLA, grass feed beef has higher levels of certain vitamins including vitamin E, thiamin and riboflavin and is higher in omega 3 fatty acids.
As for whole fat dairy, a frothy glass of ice cold whole milk could also benefit your heart. That’s because the calcium in the milk helps to lower blood pressure and the vitamin K2, found in whole milk has artery protecting benefits. Organic whole milk is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And if you eat raw cheese, you’ll tap into even more of the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid.
So back to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s diet. (For you twenty and thirty year olds, you may need to think back one more generation.) If you’re like me, you may remember a relative who lived to a ripe old age. In my case, it was my grandmother, who lived to be one month shy of 98. She was very healthy, never fussed over her cholesterol levels and ate what she wanted to.
So what was the difference with this generation of healthy 70, 80 and 90 year olds? The answer seems pretty simple.
Your Nana and PawPaw, and my grandmother, ate lots of home cooked food, including meats, vegetables and whole grains. My grandmother started off each morning with yogurt and fresh fruit.
What they didn’t do was eat a shopping carts worth of highly processed foods like potato chips and crackers each week. Neither did they supplement their daily meals with McDonalds and Taco Bell. And if you were to monitor their sugar consumption, you’d probably find that they drank less soda pop and ate fewer desserts.
Vegetables were a stable of their diet. And exercise was a natural part of their daily routines, whether it took the form of gardening, raking leaves or walking to the store.
We know that it’s hard to let go of long held beliefs, so If you’re still afraid that a steak might not be good for you, then follow the American Heart Association recommendations — 6 ounces of lean meat a day. Lean cuts include chuck, loin, sirloin or round. In the context of healthy eating, there’s nothing wrong with adding red meat and whole fat dairy in moderation to your diet.
So, if you’re craving a succulent grilled steak, go fire up the grill. And if you’re accompanying that steak with a baked potato you might try adding some grated raw milk cheddar cheese to the top.
Go ahead, live a little! You deserve it.