What is protein? I usually get the same answer when this question is asked…MEAT. Yes, meat is a protein, but there are so many other great sources as well. In addition, the word meat is often misinterpreted. According to Webster’s, meat is defined as the flesh of an animal, NOT just red meat which is the typical thought.
Okay, so now that is cleared up, back to protein. Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Seafood, Nuts, Soy, Eggs, Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.), Beans, Quinoa, are ALL sources of protein. No matter what protein you choose to eat, do your research, which is the point I am about to present.
Why should I care what kind of protein I purchase? Let’s start with hormones. We know high levels of hormones can cause problems in the human body, but can hormones we ingest alter our hormone levels? First we need to know how much of these additives we actually absorb from these products and how much remains in products after processing? Another thing we need to look at is how these hormones will affect our body.
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH)
There is an argument that rbGH in milk from treated cows contains higher levels of this hormone than milk from non-treated cows. However, the FDA concluded that there isn’t evidence that a biologically active form is absorbed. Also, the bovine growth hormone is not active in humans.
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)
IGF-1 is naturally present in both cattle and humans and it is assumed that humans can absorb extra IGF-1 from milk. It is possible that higher levels of IGF-1 in the blood may be associated with an increased risk of some cancers, but no evidence has proven a link.
Now on to antibiotics. Cows treated with rbGH reportedly have higher incidence of infections in the udder and are therefore treated with antibiotics. High use of antibiotics can create a resistance to certain bacteria making treatment difficult as we know now with all the drug-resistant organisms present these days. It is unknown if the antibiotics used to treat these infections can create harm in humans.
Until more rigorous research is done, I prefer to not risk it. I typically choose Grass-fed, hormone/antibiotic free, organic, and wild-caught items. It is also safe to buy imported European meat products, as added growth hormones are banned in the EU (interesting it is not banned here).
The one thing I can say is that once you make this change, you will not want to go back. There has been a few times when we were in an area without our usual products available to us and had to have grain-fed beef or regular eggs and well… you can tell a BIG difference. But don’t just believe me, try it yourself.
To help you understand some of the confusion terms regarding this matter while shopping, I have provided a list of terms to look for on your food products and why it is important. Happy shopping!!
The meat from the cow is leaner as they are grazing in a pasture for their food. Since they are leaner, they are lower in saturated fat and according to some studies, higher in omega-3’s. USDA grass-fed beef has only has a grass diet and access to pasture year-round. The program is voluntary, however, without third-party verification. Labels that read “100% grass-fed” or “grass-finished” and verified by a third party.
Wild vs Farmed Fish
A 2003 report from the Environmental Working Group showed that farmed salmon in the U.S. has the highest levels of PCBs, toxic man-made chemicals. And a widely publicized study in the journal Science in January 2004 suggested that farmed Atlantic salmon had higher levels of PCBs and other toxics than wild Pacific salmon.
Hormone/Antibiotic free (rBGH-free)
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations, meat and poultry products can be labeled as “no antibiotics added” if documentation is provided showing that the animals were raised without antibiotics. Similar allowable are “no antibiotics ever,” “no added antibiotics” and “raised” without the use of antibiotics.” However, the term “antibiotic-free” isn’t USDA approved. Under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations, “hormone-free” isn’t allowed on meat products. Beef may be labeled as “no hormones administered” if producers document that the animals were raised without hormones. Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in the raising of poultry, hogs, veal calves or exotic animals not subject to USDA inspection, such as bison. Therefore, claims of “no hormones added” can’t be used on labels for these products unless the label also states, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
This USDA-certification forbids the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified feed, or animal by-products in raising the livestock.
This is just for poultry. Chickens labeled “free range” must have access to the outdoors
Recipe of the Week
Pork Tenderloin with Cauliflower Puree and Cranberry Compote*
1 to 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup red wine
micro greens (for garnish)
salt and pepper
Combine garlic, vinegar, red wine, and tenderloin in a bowl and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven 450 degrees. Bring your tenderloin to room temperature and remove from the marinade, then liberally salt and pepper all sides of the meat. . In a large skillet, heat 1-2 Tbsp. of oil or avocado oil over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloin for 3 minutes per side. Once seared, place the tenderloin in a baking dish and bake until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes).
1 cup water
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon orange zest
May add a little stevia
Combine stevia (if using) and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cranberries and orange zest and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1½ cups chicken stock
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
In a small pot add the cauliflower, garlic, stock, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then place the lid on and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. The cauliflower should be incredibly tender. Place everything in a blender or food processor along with the cream and butter. Pulse until everything is very smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
To plate, place spoonful of the purée and fan some of the sliced pork tenderloin on top. Place spoonful of compote over the pork and finish it with some micro greens.
* Adapted from: http://lowcarboneday.com/2012/08/whole30-day-16-dijon-pork-tenderloin.html, http://coffeetablecookbook.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/grilled-pork-tenderloin-with-cauliflower-puree-and-savory-cherry-compote/, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cranberry-relish-recipe3.html?oc=linkback
USDA meat and poultry labeling terms. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms
The controversy over added Hormones in Meat and Dairy. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=90869
PCB’s in Farmed Salmon, 2003 Summary. EWG. http://www.ewg.org/research/pcbs-farmed-salmon