Omega 3 beef? A healthy burger?

Most of us like a good hamburger and if we can justify it for its Omega 3 content, then I am all for that.
How much Omega 3 is in beef? To some degree, it depends. Generally speaking however, the answer is “Surely there are other excuses for eating that hamburger.”
Commercial beef versus grass fed beef
One of the reasons people eat grass fed beef is because of the higher content of omega 3 in the beef. The graph below is a good demonstration of the decline in Omega 3 fatty acids the longer the beef cattle is off pasture. The content of EPA in particular, which is the main Omega 3 fatty acid recommended to fight depression, is basically gone after three months.
Omega 3 beef
It is important to note that even though Omega-3 fatty acids are present in the muscle of a grass fed steer, that steak is not an Omega-3 super food.
A 100 gram steak (about 3.5 ounces) from a grass fed steer has about 100 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. In contrast, fish and seafood have very high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Beef finished on flax seed and Omega 3
A second alternative that some local farmers promote is finishing the cattle on Omega 3 flax seed to increase the Omega 3 in the beef. I am told by a flax industry expert that such feeding increases the ALA in the meat, the same fatty acid found in flax seed. However, she also reported that the meat tends to be grayish, suggesting to me that the oils could be rancid. It is also cheaper simply to eat the flax seed.
Flax seed feeding works well in the case of Omega 3 chicken eggs because chicken convert the ALA into DHA, a form of Omega 3 fatty acids that may help postpartum depression.
In general, enjoy the burger for the iron and B vitamins. Any Omega 3 is a bonus.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday.

One Response to Omega 3 beef? A healthy burger?
  1. Plus, when you’re talking about burgers (which most people cook at least half-way, if not all the way through), there’s almost no Omega-3 left after cooking anyway. We have to remember that Omega-3 PUFAs are very delicate and break down when exposed to heat. So, perhaps extra Omega-3 might be a good reason to eat a grass-fed steak, but it’s not such a good reason to eat a grass-fed burger.
    Of course, I’m NOT saying it’s not worth choosing a grass-fed burger over a CAFO burger, just that the Omega-3s shouldn’t be one of the primary considerations.
    Cheers,
    ~KristenM
    (AKA FoodRenegade)

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