In recent years, animal fat has suffered a significant image crisis in large part due to its perceived connection with a number of diseases ranging from cardiovascular issues to cancer. Because beef, in particular, is thought to have a large fat content, beef has particularly suffered the effects of this stigma. Advocates of a ketogenic diet, however, continue to dispute this conundrum, as does Raluca Mateescu from Mateescu’s Animal Genetics and Genomics Lab1.
Exploring the Definition of “Fat”
For years, the fat-free label has been one of the most powerful marketing tools in the food industry. However, Mateescu says it’s important to understand that fat isn’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, he says, “there are three types of naturally occurring fatty acids, each with a different chemistry: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.” Additionally, there are also trans-fats, which are bad for your health.
Historically, epidemiologists connected diets high in saturated fats with the incidence of certain cancers and coronary heart disease. And, since beef is labeled high in saturated fat, the consumption of beef declined through the years. Mateescu says that the message is wrong though. More recent research in the past decade shows no direct correlation between saturated fat in one’s diet with any significant diseases.
There is a Clear Distinction between “Bad” and “Good” Fats
Though beef has received a lot of negative press in the past, researchers like Mateescu are now emphasizing the real difference between good and bad fats. For example, trans-fats, as well as certain short-length saturated fats, do increase one’s risk for heart disease. On the other hand, good fats – namely mono- and polyunsaturated fats – actually do the opposite and end up lowering your risk.
Ultimately, this means we should not try so hard to reduce our overall fat intake. Rather, we should focus on the types of fats we consume and substitute good fats for bad fats. For those on a keto diet, this is a good news and continues to bolster the perception of healthy fats.
Beef Gets a New Image with Keto
While you might have steered clear of beef in the past, Mateescu believes beef is actually a very important and healthy part of any diet – especially if you follow ketogenic principles. He says, “Beef contributes significantly to man’s intake of the important fatty acids EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids.” Ultimately, ongoing research continues to explore the genetic markers to identify and isolate the production of beef with higher volumes of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
When purchasing beef, know that not all beef is created equal. Pay careful attention to marbling, the source, as well as the overall fat content. While beef is, indeed, undergoing an extreme makeover, it’s important to know the health benefits of meat consumption, as a whole.
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