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Corned Beef for St. Patrick’s Day Dinner?  

Is that even healthy? 

Let’s start with what it is; the cut is the bottom “breast” area of the animal.  It is very tough.  It is traditionally processed and tenderized using salt brine.  There’s no corn in the process of making “Corned” Beef.  Commercial operations also use sodium nitrite.   It is fatty, so about 65% of caloric content is fat, 35% protein and no carbohydrates.  It fits with a ketogenic diet plan.

Don't get too wound up about it because most people eat this once per year and it IS tasty, but it’s not terribly good for you. 

You know all those “red meat studies” that say red meat is bad? This is the kind of thing they are looking at.  Commercially raised beef, are fed sugar in the form of corn and grains, then the cut is treated with salt and nitrites. The latter is cancer inducing, particularly in the prostate and colon. Corned beef has an overall, mostly fat profile. It's worthwhile to look at the type of fat.   

Animals that are raised eating what they’d eat in the wild, are nutritious. The fat is high omega 3.   But for beef for example, comparatively, it requires about 18 months for commercially raised animals to be large enough to be taken to market.  An organically raised, grass fed requires over 2 years to get big enough.  And still, the commercial animal will be 1,200 pounds and the natural one only about 900 pounds.  If you were wondering why healthy beef costs more, that’s why.  About 30% less product per year and about 30% less product by weight.

Should you eat the corned beef?  Once a year.  Yes.  Experience that.  The rest of the year we should be eating clean proteins.  Not sugar-fed.   I’ll leave that answer there for those casually interested in this.  For the nitty gritty, read on.

What’s the sugar do to the cow?   Shifts the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids to omega 6 dominant.  You may care because you already know omega 3, like in fish oil, mitigates inflammation in your body.  It’s supplemented frequently because it is helpful for people who have inflammation based health problems, like asthma, cardiac disease, allergies, rashes, autoimmune diseases and more.  

Omega 6 on the other hand drives inflammation.  Before you think that is bad and omega 3 good, omega 6 is necessary in the first stage of healing a wound or tissue damage. Without it, your immune system would function very poorly.  It gets the immune system up and running quickly.  Too much however, keeps it up and running when it doesn’t need to be.  High omega 6 drives everything from arthritis and asthma to irritable bowel, Crohn’s and cancer.

All animals have omega 3.  You know deep water fish is one of the best sources. But, whatever you consume animal-wise gives you some omega 3.   However, once you start trying to bulk up the animal’s diet with sugars and grains, not what they naturally eat, the normal ratio of omega 3 to 6, which is 1:4, gets shifted to 1:25-50.  So, if you are eating animals that have been fed grains and sugar, you are pushing your omega 6 ratio much higher as well.  

If you’re going to go to the trouble of limiting your sugars and grains yourself, understand if you eat the animal that ate those things, you’re in the same spot.  You may as well eat the pie yourself and enjoy the sugar rather than let the cow enjoy it and you eat their messed up fat. 

That’s why the “red meat studies” show what they show.  The red meat people eat in the studies is commercially raised.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to eat grass fed (grass finished) hamburger, you know it’s quite a different experience than commercial.   For starters, if you’re the type that likes well done, you’re going to need a lot of ketchup to swallow it.  Grass fed doesn’t have nearly the fat level of commercial.  It’s all lean. REALLY lean.  You need to cook it rare or medium rare at most. Also, it requires more salt to bring out the flavor.

If you’re wondering where to get grass fed, the most reasonable is directly from a farmer who cares for his animals this way.   Some butcher shops aren’t forthcoming about this.  And, certainly the large supermarkets, in addition to being the most expensive source, are not able to monitor all their farmers for grass fed animals to assure they are grass fed AND finished.   

If you’d like resources, get in touch with us and we’ll help you find one.  There are a number of local farmers raising grass fed now.  It is easier than ever. 

Enjoy the blessings of Saint Patty's Day.


Dr. Barrett

Vibrant Life Center

6070 50th St. N.

Oakdale, MN 55128


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