Monday, April 30, 2012

Beef for my heart and chili for my soul

I made chili last night, and it was great-tasting and so very good for me. You may have heard of a recent study publication, “Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study: effects on lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipids." I'll explain that study after a quick cooking lesson.
First, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the “Julia Child” of authentic Mexican fare, Diana Kennedy. Her book is a culinary tour of Mexico, and it’s fabulous. 
I based my meal on her “Carne en Chile Colorado” recipe and put together the following ingredients:
  • ·         14 – 16 Dried Mexican chile peppers, caps removed…I play around with combinations of New Mexico, Cascabel, Arbol, Ancho peppers. Here are the little spicy Arbol peppers next to the larger, milder Cascabel peppers.
  • ·         1 tsp cumin
  • ·         1 tsp oregano
  • ·         2 cloves of garlic
  • ·         3 lbs lean ground beef
  • ·         1/8 cup (2 TB) canola oil
  • ·         2 tsp salt (not pictured)
I threw all the ingredients except for the salt, oil, and beef into a pot. I poured in water until all the ingredients were covered.
I let this simmer for 10 minutes and then blended the hot mixture, water and all, into a fine pasty liquid. (Don’t fill more than 1/3 of the blender at a time! Note the splatter. I hope you do as I say, not as I do!).
Pour the oil, salt, and meat into the pot which contained the pepper mixture. Completely brown the meat over medium heat.
When meat is browned, mix in the chile pepper liquid. This can all simmer together for another 20 minutes, or until liquids have reduced down to a proper-looking chili. 
Back to the study that makes this chili legit: Four diets were assigned to 36 people with high cholesterol problems who consumed them for 5 weeks at a time, with a normalization period of one week between diet changes. Across the four diets, total calories were kept constant. The three diets containing beef had similar total fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and cholesterol to one another. The other diet, (Healthy American Diet, or HAD) only contained white meat and was higher in the following: total fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and also cholesterol. The HAD diet also had lower fiber than the beef-containing diets.

The diet makeup was as follows:
1.       Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Included low-fat or non-fat dairy products, less oil and butter, high fruits and vegetables (3 – 4 servings of each) and more whole grains than the HAD diet. It also replaced 28 g of the protein with 95% lean beef/day. Total cholesterol and LDL concentrations decreased by 49 and 37%, respectively.
2.       Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) Same diet as above except it replaced the protein with 113 g beef/d. Total cholesterol and LDL concentrations decreased by 48 and 35%, respectively.
3.       Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD +) Same diet as above, with 113 g beef replacing other protein sources, plus additional protein to replace carbohydrates (40 g).  Total cholesterol and LDL concentrations decreased by 49 and 35%, respectively.
4.       Healthy American Diet (HAD) Contained full-fat cheese and dairy products, more oil and butter, refined grains, rich in fruit, vegetables (3 servings of each), and lean WHITE meats. This diet reduced total cholesterol and LDL concentrations by 22% and 14%, respectively.

Here is the nutritive makeup of each diet:

These are the food components of each diet:

The article points out a consistent factor with a previous study conducted by Beauchesen-Rondeau et al (2003, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) that when lean beef (containing less saturated fat) is substituted for white meat (containing more saturated fat), LDL decreases. Confirming a factor (reduced saturated fat) that decreases bad cholesterol is a triumph here!

As much as I am a beef enthusiast, I take care to note that this study highlights the reduction of saturated fat, not the addition of beef, as an agent to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Lean beef just plays a significant role in this because it is lower in saturated fat than many white meats. This study proves that lean beef IS an alternative low saturated fat protein source that will lower cholesterol. Lean beef is equal to fish, lean pork, and lean chicken for its cholesterol-lowering awesome is that, since the American Heart Association used to say avoid red meat to lower cholesterol! 

Additionally, the potential cholesterol-lowering increase of fiber in the beef-containing diets deserves attention, as none was given in the Discussion portion. Refer back to “Eat your Vegetables!” for more information on how fiber can lower cholesterol.

Remember also that dairy fat is mostly saturated! When I lived in in Spain, I ate a lot of amazing cheeses, fatty sausages, chocolate, churros, fresh butter and cream…my total cholesterol ended up being over 200 when I got back to the U.S…yikes! Lowering dairy fat in your diet can decrease cholesterol. 

What do you Think?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Ethics of Eating Meat

Hopefully, this essay will end up in the New York Times in response to a "Calling All Carnivores!" essay contest...

Carnivores eat meat with a clean conscience, despite protests by vegetarians on ethical grounds. 

Disagreements between carnivores and vegetarians often emerge from two different value scales. One philosophy ascribes equal value to human and animal life. One species killing another equates to committing murder. The opposing paradigm holds that a Creator gave mankind authority to steward, or care for, all of His creation. Here, human life ranks highest; humans cannot “murder” animals. In the case for carnivores, may it serve as a reminder that the latter code of ethics deserves the same appreciation as the former. 

The practice of stewardship dictates that we care for what is loaned to us: we care for our bodies, and we care for creation. 

Bodily stewardship sanctions eating lean meat to efficiently consume limiting nutrients such as essential amino acids. With the exception of soy, legumes like beans must be eaten with grains like rice, because only in combination do they provide all the amino acids that our bodies cannot generate. Our bodies absorb minerals like iron more easily from meat than from plants (Halberg, L., 1981. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), and only animal products contain natural Vitamin B12. I can ingest adequate quantities of these nutrients while consuming fewer calories than I would eating beans, peanut butter, or tofu. I eat meat because I care for my body. 

Creation stewardship guides the responsible use of animals in today’s agricultural industry. The entire modern food production chain is integrated to the point of recycling each other’s “trash” so that animals and humans hardly compete for food. Livestock utilize food waste as feed that would otherwise break down into methane or carbon dioxide in landfills and compost. Agricultural animals consume oilseed cake, crop stubble, and other food industry “scraps” to convert inedible byproducts into quality food products. 

Raising grazing animals preserves wildlife habitat, involving over 75% of this country’s wild lands as managed ecosystems for livestock production (BLM, 2012; ERS, 2002). This keeps undeveloped and unplowed land economically viable. Crop production notoriously destroyed most of America’s tallgrass prairie. Strong demand for beef, lamb, and cabrito provides homes for wildlife that strong vegetarian demand cannot. 

Livestock manure and litter generate significant quantities of fertilizer for crops. This suppresses the need for fossil-fuel generated inorganic fertilizer. If there were no carnivores, crop production would depend heavily on resource-costly, less-efficient, and more biohazardous sources such as chemical fertilizer, compost, and municipal waste, respectively. Furthermore, farmers in a purely vegetarian system would display poor stewardship in composting retired dairy cows and laying hens instead of availing them as human food.  

Finally, grazing animals have expanded the human food supply with their ability to use rumen bacteria to convert indigestible cellulosic plant fibers into energy for growth. They use something useless to us to create something useful for us. The USDA categorizes less than 20% of land as arable (ERS, 2002). Another 26% represents land unsuitable for cropping but ideal for grazing. Livestock production doubles land capacity for food production. I eat meat because I care for creation, stewarding what little land we have for the greatest good. 

Some of the greatest animal lovers in the world are carnivores. The honored stewards that raise animals for meat find it obvious that to abuse, neglect, or ignore creation offends their purpose as human beings and jeopardizes the sustenance that creation offers. In response to the prompt, “Is it right to eat animals when human survival is not at stake?” I believe it is right to eat animals because human survival is at stake. Responsible stewardship of life guarantees its sustainability.

...what do you Think?