Grass-fed red meat is source of omega-3

Grass-finished beef and lamb offer important health bonuses to humans, a new study from the University of Ulster has revealed.

Dr Alison McAfee at the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) has found that meat from beef cattle and sheep finished on grass had a higher level of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than stock fed on a cereal-based diet.

These fatty acids are essential to human health and are particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease. Currently, the major source of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the human diet comes from oily fish, but only 27% of people the UK eat oily fish compared to 90% who eat red meat.

Dr McAfee said: “The research shows that moderate consumption of red meat from grass fed animals could increase blood plasma and platelet long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations in healthy humans without any effect on blood pressure or serum cholesterol.”

“This research has shown that beef cattle and lambs are in fact another important source for the fatty acids.”

For those who don’t eat oily fish, grass-finished red meat has the potential to supply 41% of the total daily long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake, compared to 29% obtained from livestock finished on a cereal-based diet.


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