Part of trusting where your food comes from is knowing what’s in it. At Grass Roots we offer full transparency by posting our livestock standards online, adding a tracking label on our food from farmer to processor, and sharing all ingredients so you know exactly what you are consuming. We wanted to take it one step further by testing our meat to show how much better it really is. We know pasture-raised and grass-fed animals are healthier and happier, but we are so excited to share how the nutrients consumed by our animals impacts the meat you are ordering from our family farms.
So, what did we decide to focus on with this test? Omega 3 fatty acids. With a long history of providing benefits to the body from reducing the risk of heart disease to improving mental health, among many others, we felt this was an excellent measurement of the nutritional value in our meat. Expert recommendations call for intakes of omega 3 (EPA and DHA) between 250-2000mg per day for optimal health. An estimated 91% of Americans (Sands et al Lipids) are deficient in Omega 3 and this has been correlated with premature death (Mozafarrian).
We worked with Lipid Technologies - the leading facility in testing omega 3 by Dr Doug Bibus - an expert in the area of omega 3 fatty acids and their analysis that stems from his time in the academic lab of Dr Ralph T. Holman who invented the term ‘omega 3’. Fatty acids were analyzed by traditional methods employing acid hydrolysis and subsequent analysis by gas chromatography or GC. Fatty acids were determined by comparison to authentic standards and data was presented in milligram (mg) fatty acid per 100g serving.
Here's what happened when the expert tested our products...
Results from this study demonstrate that our grass-fed chicken, pork and beef, have significantly higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA (the long chain omega 3s). As you probably know by now all of our animals are pasture-raised and grass-fed which is important to note with this study. Grass fed protein sources have a number of nutritional advantages, including their omega 3 content. While we can consume omega 3 dietary supplements, food-based solutions are a preferred method and our meats provide an excellent dietary option for omega 3.
Let's break it down by each animal
Grass-Fed, Grass-Finished Beef
Grasslands are often comprised of varieties of different grasses and plants. Grazing and ruminant animals like beef consume and ferment grasses and fiber to metabolic substrates that they can then digest. In this scenario, cows actually feed the bacteria in their stomach indigestible fibers which the bacteria in turn convert to fatty acids which they then can absorb.
Our 90% lean grass-fed ground beef had 200mg of total omega 3 per 100g serving compared to 36mg for conventional beef.
Long chain omega 3 comprised 64mg in grass fed beef while 0mg of long chain omega 3 was reported for conventional beef.
A 100g serving of grass fed beef containing 64mg of long chain omega 3 provides about 25% of the threshold level of 250mg proposed by experts as the threshold level for cardio-protection.
While on pasture chickens actively forage on plants, bugs and grubs. Insects and grubs also contain omega 3 fatty acids.
The meat and fat of the birds consuming our pasture based diet are markedly enriched in omega 3 fats as well.
Our chicken breast was found to contain 107mg of omega 3 per 100g serving compared to 26mg in conventional chicken breast - nearly a 4 fold increase. It also supplied 40mg of EPA, DPA and DHA compared to 13mg in conventional chicken.
Total omega 3 for our chicken thighs was 397mg per 100g serving compared to 165mg in conventional chicken - one serving contributes nearly 25% of the recommended daily intake of omega 3!
Collectively, pastured strategies for chicken produces meat with meaningful dietary amounts of omega 3 and a reduced omega 6 to omega 3 ratios that supports greater conversion of omega 3 and improved omega 3 status.
Pigs have long been known to efficiently metabolize plant based omega 3 into long chain omega 3 like EPA and DHA.
Our pork chops contained 481mg of total omega 3 per 100g serving. Total omega 3 levels were approximately 10 fold higher than conventionally raised pork that contained 46mg of omega 3.
Our ground pork was similarly elevated in omega 3 with 650mg per 100g serving compared to 250mg total omega 3 in conventional. Long chain omega 3 in ground pork was found to be 112mg per 100g serving or roughly half the recommended daily serving for cardiovascular health promotion (Mozafarrian).
Needless to say we are delighted with these results. The levels of healthy good fats support our long-held beliefs in the value of pasture-raising all our animals. While there have been numerous studies on the health benefits of grass-fed, grass-finished beef, data around pastured chicken and forested pork has been less available. This study provides the scientific back-up that real meat, raised right really is better for you!
Turner TD1, Mapiye C, Aalhus JL, Beaulieu AD, Patience JF, Zijlstra RT, Dugan ME. Flaxseed fed pork: n-3 fatty acid enrichment and contribution to dietary recommendations. Meat Sci. 2014 Jan;96(1):541-7. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.08.021. Epub 2013 Aug 19.