Omega 6/Omega 3 Ratio – What’s that got to do with the health of beef?

By David Jessup

What makes grass-fed meat healthier is not the amount of Omega 3 (good fat), but the ratio between Omega 6 (bad fat) and Omega 3.  In a phone interview, Dr. Susan Duckett of Clemson University told me that according to the 1994 Lyon Diet Heart Study, lowering the Omega 6 / Omega 3 fat ratio below 2:1 resulted in a 76 percent decrease in human mortality from heart disease. 

 “The key to good heart health is not just increasing Omega 3 (the good fat), but decreasing Omega 6 (the bad fat).  The ratio between 6 and 3 needs to be no higher than 2:1,” Duckett said.

 In cattle, the ratio changes dramatically with each bite of grain.  Feedlot cattle fed a high grain diet for six months have a five to fifteen times worse good-to-bad fat ratio than grassfed beef. 

 In a new test at Clemson, Ducket reported that heifers fed for 30 days on pasture supplemented with corn increased their Omega 6/3 ratio to 2.4 to 1.  After 60 days, it went up to 3.5 to one.  The grass-fed only beef remained at 1.1 to 1.

 The bottom line:  grass-fed beef with the right kind of fat is heart-healthy.

 David J