Why grass fed is so important
The lamb you buy from I O Ranch Lamb is 100% grass fed and finished – never placed in feed lots, never given hormones or antibiotics. Grass fed meat is healthy but the meat from animals grazing green grass and plants is a super food, and even the fat is a beneficial fat.
A growing body of research indicates that eating grass fed meat is a healthy choice for your family, because it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and beta-carotene, and lower in fat than grain fed meat. We believe that eating grass fed lamb from I O Ranch is a healthy way to enjoy meat in your diet.
Although grass fed meat is low in "bad" fat (including saturated fat), it gives you from two to six times more of a type of "good" fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most "heart friendly." People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. The reason that grass fed animals have more omega-3s than grain fed animals is that omega-3s are formed in the green leaves (specifically the chloroplasts) of plants. Sixty percent of the fat content of grass is a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid or LNA.
When animals are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on grain, they lose their valuable store of LNA as well as two other types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot or off green grass, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.
At the I O Ranch, we are fortunate to be in central Texas, where our climate allows us to have green grass and foliage year round. We plant our fields with winter oats in September and the sheep graze the forage all winter long. They will graze clover in the spring, and native and improved grasses in the summer. When you buy I O Ranch Lamb, you get all the health benefits of a GREEN GRASS FED lamb, any time of year.
Studies have shown that grass fed meat is:
· Lower in total fat
· Higher in beta-carotene
· Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
· Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
· Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
· Higher in total omega-3s
· A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
· Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
· Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
· Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease
Lambs raised on pasture are higher in protein, lower in fat
A team of scientists from the USDA compared grass fed lambs with lambs fed grain in a feedlot. They found that "lambs grazing pasture had 14% less fat and about 8% more protein compared to grain fed lamb." The researchers acknowledged that "consumer desires for healthier meats have shifted the emphasis to leaner, trimmer carcasses" and that raising more sheep on pasture will "benefit our economy by reducing reliance upon expensive grain supplements".
Switching to grass fed products helps balance the essential fats in your diet. There are two types of fats that are essential for your health—omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The typical western diet is overloaded with omega-6 fatty acids and deficient in omega-3s, upsetting a critical balance. Look at the graph below and you will see that fresh pasture has two times more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids. Grain and soy, on the other hand, have far more omega-6s than omega-3s. Therefore, when you switch to grass fed products, you are helping to correct the gross imbalance in the western diet. Eating a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids is linked with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and mental disorders.
Grass fed lamb has more lutein. The more that nutritionists learn about naturally occurring antioxidants, the more they like lutein. Lutein is closely related to beta-carotene, but is absorbed more readily. Lutein reduces the risk of macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness) and may also help prevent breast and colon cancer. Meat from sheep raised on pasture has twice as much lutein as meat from grain fed sheep—yet another nutritional advantage of raising animals naturally.
To learn more about the benefits of grass fed meat, we recommend you visit www.eatwild.com.