News last update:6 Aug 2012

Omega-3 cattle diet benefits consumers

Cows fed a diet rich in omega-3 produce enriched meat that has significant benefits for consumers, suggests new research from Kansas State University.

The new research, published in the journal Nutrition Research, suggests that raising cattle on flaxseed diet (10%), rich in alpha-linolenic acid, leads to increases in the omega-3 content of the meat, which could then be passed on to the consumer.
Boosting levels in animal-derived produce is seen by some as having potential in bridging the gap between recommended and actual intake in the modern population.

The researchers compared flaxseed-fed cattle and corn-fed cattle and found omega-3 fatty acids levels in the cooked beef was double in the flaxseed-fed animals than that found in their corn-fed counterparts (83 versus 44 milligrams per 100 grams). The researchers then fed 20 rats either a diet containing beef from the flaxseed-fed cattle or beef from the corn-fed cattle for five weeks.

Healthier test animals
They report a statistically significant increase in the amount of DHA in the livers of the rats fed the omega-3-enriched beef diet compared to controls (168 versus 67 nanomoles per 100 grams, respectively). Rats fed the omega-3-enriched beef diet also had significantly lower heart levels of arachidonic acid (AA), compared to controls (81 versus 164 nanomoles per 100 grams, respectively). AA is metabolised to produce prostaglandin E2, a pro-inflammatory compound. Rats fed the omega-3-enriched beef diet were reported to have significantly lower blood cholesterol levels, relative to controls, wrote Medeiros - 77 versus 107 mg/100 mL, respectively.

Entire food chain
The study showed that improving the nutritional quality of beef, in this case omega-3 fatty acids, by simply changing a part of the cattle's diet is possible. In human terms, two 85 grams (three ounce) servings of beef a day would provide a daily omega-3 dose of 140 mg. "It would appear to be important to try and improve the omega-3 fatty acid content of the entire food supply when possible to help reach this goal," said the researchers.

Related website:
Kansas State University

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