Red Meat

Does Red Meat Cause Cancer?



Does red meat cause cancer? No doubt you have heard the various studies in the news, health magazines espousing the evils of red meat. Then on the other side, there is the grass-fed, pastured meat movements espousing the health benefits of red meat. There are diets like Paleo, Atkins, and Keto, which do not shy away from red meat consumption. Who is to be believed? Which studies are correct?

Being a Traditional Foodie, I always chalked these conflicting results up to the fact that the studies are done using conventional meat.  Let’s take a look at the nutritional differences grass-fed and finished (pastured) red meat over conventionally raised beef. 

Grass-fed and finished beef:

  • contains a better fat profile. It has more Omega 3s and it contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a cancer and inflammation fighter. 
  • has more micronutrients, specifically more vitamin A, E, and glutathione (a potent detoxifying antioxidant.)
  • is higher in antioxidants which keep the fats in the meat more stable. 
  • comes from cows that are grass-fed and finished and live their lives happily out in the pasture eating grasses just like cows should. Their conventionally raised brethren live crowded in buildings standing, eating GMO grains, and laying in their own excrement. They are regularly given antibiotics to prevent and cure sickness as well as fatten them up. Often they are given hormones as well.

As you can see, the grass-fed and grass-finished beef is a nutrient-dense food and a much healthier choice than conventionally raised beef on all levels. (Be sure it says grass-finished. If it only says grass-fed, it is likely grain-finished and loses a great deal of the health promoting properties listed above.) Because grass-fed and finished beef is so much healthier than conventionally raised beef, I thought that the conflicting nutritional study results were partly due to researchers focusing their studies on people eating conventionally raised beef. To me, this would then bring up the problem of “confounding data.”

Counfounding Data:

Confounding data is where the other habits of typical red meat consumers may play a role in their health results. These are things such as lack of exercise, over-consumption of alcohol and or sweets, smoking, etc. Since the early 1950’s, we were taught that because red meat contains saturated fat, it raises cholesterol and therefore risk of cardiovascular disease. Although we now know this to be untrue, there were those who believed it to be true and still ate plenty of red meat without caring about the purported risks. Picture the 50 year old man at the steak house with his scotch and his cigar, maybe carrying a bit of extra weight around his middle. This person has drastically different health habits than the mostly fish and salad eating, yoga doing, supplement taking, 45 year old woman he is married to. Is his poor health due to his meat consumption, his alcohol consumption, his lack of exercise, who knows?

This is, unfortunately, a common theme in nutrition research.  There are many complications which can skew the results of nutritional studies. Plus, it is hard to do long term studies on people’s diets. Unless you have a group of people who cannot get away such as in prisons and mental hospitals (studies used to happen to these groups of people without their permission, but thankfully this practice has ceased), you are generally relying on people reporting what they ate. People are notorious for misremembering, especially when it comes to a topic like food. People also do not realize many of the ingredients that they consume daily that are hidden in processed and restaurant foods. 

Given all that I know about the difficulties with nutritional studies, researchers focusing on conventional beef instead of pastured, and the fact that saturated fat does can not be shown to cause heart disease, I have never decreased my red meat consumption. Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered that red meat can cause cancer, whether pastured or not, unless we do one important thing while we eat it!!!

How to make sure red meat doesn’t cause cancer:

Red Meat

I recently came across a tidbit of information in an amazing book called Paleo Principles by Dr. Sarah Ballentyne that blew my mind! Your steak or pot roast or prime rib, could actually cause cancer even if it is pasture-raised from start to finish, unless you consume vegetables with your meal! Specifically, green vegetables. So whip up a side of sautéed spinach, roast some Brussels sprouts, or have a green salad to start. So simple! If you want a simple explanation of the science behind it, read on. If you want a more in depth look at the science, pick up a copy of Dr. Ballentyne’s book! 

Preventing red meat from causing cancer:

There are several mechanisms linking cancer to “components of meat that have nothing to do with an animal’s diet or antibiotic exposure.” One important one is “heat-induced mutagens (a substance that can cause genetic mutation, which increases the risk of cancer).” However, taking a closer look at these studies “we find something interesting. The link between meat and cancer tends to disappear once the studies adjust for vegetable intake” (Ballentyne). This is amazing news. The big game changer seems to be chlorophyll. 

How chlorophyll can protect you:

Red meat contains heme (this is why it is such a good source of iron). Unfortunately, heme can become a problem once in the gut. “The cells lining the digestive tract metabolize it into cytotoxic compounds (meaning toxic to living cells), which can then damage the gut barrier…cause cell proliferation, and increase fecal water toxicity–all of which raise cancer risk” (Ballentyne).

Chlorophyll, as you may remember from science in elementary school, is the pigment in green plants. Whether it is spinach, broccoli, or an algae, chlorophyll gives them their green color. Why is chlorophyll so powerful? It neutralizes those cytotoxic compounds caused by heme that we talked about above. Yay!

Another important consideration: Your microbiome

If you have read my post on Protecting Your Microbiome, you may already take steps to keep your microbiome and yourself healthy. Here it comes into play in the digestion of your red meat! Red meat contains the amino acid L-carnitine. Consuming L-carnitine causes some of our intestinal bacteria to metabolize it into a compound called trimethylamine (TMA). “TMA enters the blood stream and gets oxidized by the liver into yet another compound, trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO).”  This substance “is strongly linked to cancer and heart disease , possibly due to promoting inflammation and altering cholesterol transport.” Oh dear! Don’t despair though. There is another simple solution! You just need the right type of bacteria in your gut.

Researchers found that those with a higher percentage of Bacteriodes rather than Prevotella “saw dramatically less conversion to TMA and TMAO! How do you get more Bacteriodes and fewer Prevotella? Eat fewer grains. Prevotella likes to eat grains. If you are feeding your body a steady diet of grains, then you probably have more Prevotella that someone who eats a lot of vegetables and fruits instead. 

The big takeaway:

If we take all this information and boil it down to the essentials, here we have a few guidelines for consuming red meat.

  • First, choose meat that has been pasture-raised from start to finish (grass-fed and grass-finished).
  • Next, consume green veggies with your red meat. Try this recipe for Grass-fed Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. The Chimichurri Sauce is loaded with chlorophyll!
  • Lastly, if you have a diet high in grains, you may want to cut back. Also, if you consume grains, make sure that they are not refined and that your grains are properly prepared, like sourdough bread or soaked oatmeal.
  • Enjoy your red meat!

Do you eat red meat? Do you choose pasture raised? What do you eat with your meat?

 

Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Grass Fed Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce (plus how to cook grass-fed beef)



This grass-fed flat iron steak recipe is so simple and delicious! If you have made the switch to grass-fed and grass-finished (aka pasture raised) meats, yay! I congratulate you and so does your body! You may have noticed, however, that they don’t cook up the same way as the conventionally raised beef that you are used to. Here are a few tips for you.

Tips for cooking grass-fed Beef:

  1. Use a tenderizer. I have this one, and I love it! It works well for regular steaks such as a ribeye as well as larger cuts like a flat iron. Grass-fed and grass-fed beef tends to be less tender than conventionally raised beef. This is probably due to the different fat profile and composition and that is one of the main health reasons for switching. A tenderizer makes the difference!
  2. Use a rub or a marinade: This is of course works well for all meats, but an acidic marinade can help tenderize your steak. If you use a tenderizer as suggested above, the marinade or rub will penetrate even more deeply.
  3. Cook for less time and use a meat thermometer. Pastured meat cooks faster and does not need to reach as high of a temperature. Here is the temperature chart for pastured meat. 
    • Rare — 120F.
    • Medium Rare — 125F.
    • Medium — 130F.
    • Medium Well — 135F.
    • Well — 140F.

Grilled, Grass-fed Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri:

Grass-fed Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

For the rub:

  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Combine ingredients and then rub on both sides of the steak (I do this after I have tenderized). Allow to sit for at least a half hour or up to 4 hours before grilling.

To grill your grass-fed flat iron steak:

  1. First be sure your grill is clean and grease with avocado oil.
  2. Next, preheat your grill to a medium setting (350°-400°F).
  3. Once your grill is at the correct temperature, add your steak and grill for about 10-12 minutes (this will vary depending on the thickness of your steak, flipping once about half way through.
  4. Finally, when the steak is done (aim for 135°F), allow it to sit for about 5 minutes and then slice it into 1/2 inch strips. (I use this meat thermometer which alleviates guessing and prevents overcooked steak!)
  5. Top with the chimichurri sauce and serve.

Note: The Chimichurri Sauce Recipe can be found HERE (for organizational purposes).

Grass-fed Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
A nutritious meal that is simple to prepare!
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds grass-fed and finished (pastured) flat iron steak
Steak rub
  1. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  2. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  3. 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  4. Combine ingredients and then rub on both sides of the steak (I do this after I have tenderized). Allow to sit for at least a half hour or up to 4 hours before grilling.
Instructions
  1. First be sure your grill is clean and grease with avocado oil.
  2. Next, preheat your grill to a medium setting (350°-400°F).
  3. Once your grill is at the correct temperature, add your steak and grill for about 10-12 minutes (this will vary depending on the thickness of your steak, flipping once about half way through.
  4. Finally, when the steak is done (aim for 135°F), allow it to sit for about 5 minutes and then slice it into 1/2 inch strips. (I use this meat thermometer which alleviates guessing and prevents overcooked steak!)
  5. Top with the chimichurri sauce and serve.
Reclaiming Vitality https://reclaimingvitality.com/
Have you ever had steak with chimichurri? Do you cook pastured beef? What is your favorite grass-fed beef recipe?

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce



I first discovered chimichurri sauce in a little Brazilian restaurant on Capital Hill (Seattle) about 15 years ago. It is a delightfully flavorful sauce made with cilantro and parsley that is generally served with red meat. I forgot about this sauce for quite a few years until a local restaurant  in the next town over opened. They have a steak dish with a delicious chimichurri. This coupled with my discovery that we should be eating foods with chlorophyll to prevent cancer risk while eating red meat (go here to learn more), made me decide that I should start making my own chimichurri sauce. Here is my version. Top your grass-fed and finished flat iron steak with it, dip homemade fries in it, or use it any other way that seems right to you!

Chimichurri Sauce Nutrition:

  • Cilantro: is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. It contains chlorophyll (go here to find out why this is important). Cilantro can help rid the body of heavy metals and can bring down blood sugar levels in addition to many other important benefits. Go here to learn more. 
  • Parsley: an excellent of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A, folate and iron. Not only does it contain the all important chlorophyll discussed here, it also contains the flavonoids apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol and luteolin. It also contains important minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
  • Garlic: antiviral, antibacterial, and anti_fungal. Great for immune support!
  • Cumin: a digestion boosting spice
  • Raw red wine vinegar(with the “mother”): contains acetic acid and polyphenols. Can aid digestion.
  • Lemon Juice: Vitamin C, potassium, and B-6
  • Olive Oil: one of the “good” fats. Monounsaturated and delicious.

To make Chimichurri sauce, you will need:

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 2 cups cilantro, packed
  • 2 cups parsley leaves, packed
  • 7 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions for chimichurri sauce:

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of your food processor. Process until fairly smooth. Drizzle the olive oil in while the processor is running. Once combined, allow the flavors to meld for at least an hour or so. Enjoy! I like to top my steaks with it and dip roasted veggies into it. Try this recipe for Grass-fed Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. 

 

Chimichurri Sauce
A delicious, nutrient-packed sauce to top your red meat with.
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cilantro, packed
  2. 2 cups parsley leaves, packed
  3. 7 cloves of garlic, peeled
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  5. 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  6. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  7. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/2 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of your food processor. Process until fairly smooth. Drizzle the olive oil in while the processor is running. Once combined, allow the flavors to meld for at least an hour or so. Enjoy!
Reclaiming Vitality https://reclaimingvitality.com/

Fermented Peppers

Fermented Peppers: My favorite ferment!


These fermented peppers are right up with fermented herbs as one of my favorite ferments! With the herbs, I am finding a tasty way to preserve the fresh taste of the overflowing bounty that comes out of my garden, not so with the peppers. Sadly, I have never had luck growing red bell peppers in the Pacific Northwest, so I have to get these from my co-op or farmer’s market.

This recipe works with all sorts of peppers, but red bell peppers are my absolute favorite. Use your fermented peppers on on top of a salads, hummus, or anywhere you would use a roasted red pepper. Continue reading “Fermented Peppers: My favorite ferment!”

Fermented Herbs

Fermented Herbs: Preserve summer!



Fermented herbs are my favorite way to preserve the overflow of herbs that come out of the garden at this time of the year! Of course I like to dry some as well, but you can’t beat the fresh flavor plus the probiotic punch of fermented herbs. Once fermented, I like to add them to salads, dips, and salsas. For a few minutes of prep now, you can enjoy summer freshness all fall and winter long! Continue reading “Fermented Herbs: Preserve summer!”

Watermelon-Mint Shrub

Watermelon-Mint Shrub: Improve your digestion with this tasty drink!


This watermelon-mint shrub is so refreshing and good for your body!! There are so many benefits to consuming raw apple cider vinegar, but if you have tried having a tablespoon of raw ACV in some water in the morning or before meals to encourage good digestion, balance your blood sugar, and help regulate your weight, you know that it isn’t the tastiest drink in the world. Continue reading “Watermelon-Mint Shrub: Improve your digestion with this tasty drink!”

Instant Pot BBQ Ribs

Tender and Flavorful Instant Pot BBQ Ribs



These Instant Pot BBQ Ribs are so tender and flavorful! The Instant Pot takes yet another dish that used to be a labor of love and turns it into an easy and delicious week night meal. These ribs are also great for a party because you can make them ahead of time! Use your Instant Pot to round out the meal as well with my Instant Pot Probiotic Potato Salad or Instant Pot Baked Beans (recipe coming next week). Sourdough Skillet Cornbread (or Tiger Nut “Corn Bread” if you are grain-free) goes well on the side.  Continue reading “Tender and Flavorful Instant Pot BBQ Ribs”

Bacon Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and topped with a Balsamic Reduction

Bacon Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and topped with Balsamic Reduction



These Bacon Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and topped with Balsamic Reduction are a knock-off from a local restaurant here in the Snoqualmie valley called the Iron Duck. It is a favorite one for girls night out, and we always get the “figlets” as they are called there. One of my favorite things to when I find a dish I love at a restaurant is to re-create an even healthier version if possible. This recipe uses pastured bacon and organic sun-dried figs and balsamic to up the nutrition profile.  Continue reading “Bacon Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and topped with Balsamic Reduction”

Grain-Free Waffles: Nutrient-packed and delicious!

Grain-free Waffles: Delicious, Nutrient-packed (no gums!)



You won’t even notice that these nutrient-packed, grain-free waffles are gluten-free and grain-free! The recipe is very simple to make which is why these were my go-to breakfast while I went three months without a kitchen (dishwasher flood forced an impromptu kitchen remodel!) Continue reading “Grain-free Waffles: Delicious, Nutrient-packed (no gums!)”

Chamomile uses, benefit, and growing

Chamomile: Uses and Benefits (plus 10 recipes and why your garden needs it!)



Something awesome is happening in my yard right now! There is chamomile growing, and I didn’t even plant it this year!  This is year two of “back-to-Eden” gardening for me, or as I like to call it “busy-woman-gardening”. If you have never heard of back to Eden gardening, I highly suggest you look into it. Basically, there is no tilling, little to no weeding, much, much less watering and many of your annuals will re-seed themselves leaving you to just sit back and admire nature at work (or if you are like me, do a million other things instead!) Currently, I have my beloved chamomile, as well as calendula, cilantro, parsley, arugula, and mustard greens popping up in my garden in addition to my perennial herbs. All of this with NO work from me this season.  Continue reading “Chamomile: Uses and Benefits (plus 10 recipes and why your garden needs it!)”