omega 6

What’s On The Menu – Pasture Raised Chicken: Is It Worth It?

I, like many of you, am faced with a variety of chicken choices when I go to the grocery store each week. Do I buy organic, free-range, pasture raised or conventionally raised? The choices seem to be growing by the year, but is one superior to the other?

Much like beef, I believe that chickens raised in a way that closely resembles the lives their wild ancestors live (e.g. 24/7 access to open pastures & ability to forge for insects and other food sources) provides a better animal welfare situation than that of birds caged in confined quarters.

When looking into potential environmental impacts of pasture raised chickens, the research is mixed. Some individuals contend that pasture raised chickens take more resources to produce (source) while other cite the facts that these chickens eliminate the need for fertilizer and their food sources don’t require any herbicides to produce (source).

Those aspects are important to consider when purchasing your chicken, but the main goal of this week’s menu spotlight is to determine if pasture raised chicken is nutritionally superiority to its conventional counterpart.

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Let’s take a quick look at the macronutrients contained in both pasture & conventionally raised chicken. One cup of a roasted chicken breast contains 231 calories, 43 grams (g) of protein, 5 g of fat and 0 g of carbs. It should be noted that different parts of the chicken, skin-on or skin-off, contain different nutritional values. No matter what part of the chicken you prefer, they all contain a substantial amount of protein.

To determine which one is nutritional superior, were going to have to look at their respective micronutrients. Luckily, the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) performed a study in 2013 comparing the micronutritional difference between pasture raised and non-pasture raised chickens. The results of their study showed that pasture raised chickens were higher in vitamin D3 and E, both of which are important to mitigating auto immune diseases.

The APPPA study also discovered that the pasture raised chicken contained an omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio of 5:1 while the standard 6:3 ratio for conventionally raised chicken is 15:1 (source). This is important because recent research suggest that foods containing large amounts of omega 6’s (e.g. vegetable oils & fast food) could lead to inflammatory disease like cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and more (source).

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After looking at the preliminary evidence, I have reached a verdict: pasture raised chicken is nutritional superior. Yes, a pasture raised chicken from the store or a local farmer could cost 2-3 times more than a conventionally raised chicken, but like the old saying goes “You get what you pay for.” If chicken is one of your primary protein sources, and you are interested in optimizing your nutrition, you may want to think about forking over the extra dough.

If you’re a regular consumer of pasture raised chicken, I’d love to hear some of your go to recipes. One of my favorite recipes that uses chicken, pasture raised or not, is chicken pot pie soup (recipe link). I skip the pie crust and do my best to use gluten-free ingredients, but I highly recommed you do yourself a favor and make it tonight! Feel free to send a pic of your delicious chicken recipe to us on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter) or you can email it to elementaltampa@gmail.com.

You can also take advantage of the complimentary fitness consultations we’re currently offering by emailing us. Whether you need advice on nutrition or just want workout tips, I’d be happy to set up an appointment with you to discuss how you can improve your fitness.

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What’s on the Menu – The Other Red Meat

If you’ve been paying attention to my weekly menu spotlights, you’ve probably realized that I don’t discriminate when it comes to food. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do my best to stay away from anything that contains refined sugars and grains, but other than that I’m an omnivore through and through. I say that because last week’s post and today’s post feature foods that are not exactly vegan friendly. I want my vegan friends to know that I’m not discriminating against you all. Shannon is a former vegan and she still makes some delicious vegan dishes and I promise to feature one in an upcoming post. But today’s post is dedicated to very special type of red meat.

The steaks featured below can’t be found in the grocery store. They don’t come from any factory farms or feedlots. They come from the fields, woods, and prairies. These are steaks from a whitetail deer. Deer meat, better known as venison, along with other wild game meat tend to have lower caloric and fat content but equal amounts of protein compared to meat from conventionally raised livestock. Venison in particular has approximately 150 calories, 24 g of protein and 1.5 g of fat per 3.5 ounce serving (source). Any regular readers of the blog will know that I am not afraid of fat so the idea of the meat having less fat doesn’t exactly thrill me, but venison and other wild game have a better ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, which researchers have found could help mitigate certain chronic diseases/conditions (source). Eating wild game like venison not only provides nutritional benefits, it also allows you to be less reliant on factory farmed meat.

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Legit wild game is not regulated by the USDA, which means it cannot be sold in supermarkets. I believe this is a good thing because it inspires people to take up hunting or in most instances, connect with a friend or family member that does hunt. Having grown up in a hunting family, I can tell you from experience that hunters are extremely generous when it comes to sharing their harvest. Take these folks up on their generosity because the less reliant we are on meat from factory farms, the better off we, and the planet, will be.

If you already eat wild game on a regular basis, let us know what your favorite type and preparation method is. Feel free to contact us elementaltampa@gmail.com with any recipes.