One of the major benefits of real food is the nutrient density. There are no “empty calories” in these foods. They don’t just fill us up, they nourish our bodies. Liz Lipski, a PhD nutritionist, in her book, “Digestive Wellness for Kids,” appropriately notes “we are the most overfed and undernourished people in the world.” This is SO true and it is most evident, I believe, in our children.
In the previous blog, I introduced the concept of real foods and now let’s look more in depth at the benefits from our real food protein sources.
Grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, pastured eggs, pastured pork, lamb, and nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, etc) are all great examples of REAL protein sources. We will look specifically at beef and eggs.
But first, you might be wondering, what does “pastured” mean? Pastured basically means the animal has been able to freely roam pasture where it can graze on grass and get sunlight. Grass, earthworms and bugs on the ground are the animal’s source of food which is exactly what they were designed to eat! Pastured animal products have more nutrition, less toxins, and no worry about antibiotics. The modernization of farming practices to feed solely or primarily grain as the food source for chickens, pigs and cattle has both changed and depleted the nutrition we get from eating their meat.
Two of our real food protein sources I want to highlight are grass-fed beef and eggs. Both of these are powerful sources of nutrition- especially in children.
Grass-fed beef: Some would say that meat is meat, but it’s just not true. Yes, a grass fed cow and a conventionally fed cow will have the same amount of protein per oz of meat, but the fat content, type of fat and toxin levels in the meat will be vastly different. There is well established research that shows grass-fed beef has higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and lower total fat that conventional fed beef. (Here is more info)
Conventional-fed beef is fed all sorts of GMO grain, and primarily corn which raises inflammatory factors and the fat content of the meat. There are whole books written on the benefits of grass-fed beef, but the bottom line is- it IS better! Beef from a well- cared for animal is a powerful source of nutrition you should not miss.
Yes, grass-fed beef is more expensive than conventional, but the benefits are well worth the cost. Even buying it some of the time is better than not at all. The way to make it affordable is to get to know a local farmer producing grass-fed meat and share a whole cow with other families (or your extended family). My husband and I share a whole cow with 2 other families each year. The website Eat Wild allows you to search for local farmers in our area! If you aren’t inclined to make friends with your farmer or share with other families, you can order fabulous products from US Wellness Meats. This company is more expensive than what can be found locally, but it sure is convenient and shipping/packaging are really well done.
Pastured eggs: Pastured eggs come from chickens who are freely roaming eating grass, grubs, bugs, etc. as their source of nutrition. Pastured eggs are, in my opinion, better than organic eggs because the amount of sunlight chicken gets and eating grubs and bugs from the ground are a big factor in the nutrition of the egg (but organic is still better than conventional). For more information about egg package labeling (which is super confusing even to me!) check out this article at Real Food University.
What about the cholesterol? One of the people I trust the most when it comes to understanding fat, cholesterol and our bodies is Chris Masterjohn. He has been a pioneer in reclaiming the truth about fat and cholesterol saying, “the slew of nutrients in an egg yolk is so comprehensive that a few a day would offer better insurance than a multi-vitamin.” (full article here) As provocative as that sounds- he’s right! Many of us take poorly absorbed vitamins and have spent years focusing on egg whites instead of yolks. We could have just been eating egg! Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of a quality multivitamin and we should all be taking one, but take a good one and eat your eggs! Eggs also contain high levels of biotin and choline which are powerful nutrients for the developing brain of kids (especially in the womb).
There is nothing quite like the taste and look of a dark yellow/orange egg yolk. If you haven’t ever seen a golden, dark yellow, almost orange egg yolk, you probably haven’t eaten high quality pastured eggs. The darker the yolk, the more DHA in the egg. I am a huge fan of local eggs that can give you fabulous nutrition at a lower price than pastured eggs in the grocery store.
To find Kansas City area eggs check out Local Harvest.
I’ll be back next week for more on real food. Stay tuned…