it's a matter of fat

chewing the fat

Not all fat is as bad as you think and we need certain types of fat to keep healthy.

 

For years people believed that ALL fat is unhealthy and avoided it by sticking to lean cuts or white meat and fish. But, evidence actually shows that the right type of fat has health benefits that your body needs. Let's take a look at which fats are the good guys and which are the bad guys.

Trans Fats

the bad fats on the block

Trans fats - also known as trans fatty acids - can occur both naturally (in small amounts in animals) and artificially (from processed vegetable oils). It's the artificial trans fats that are to blame for a range of health issues, particularly increasing bad cholesterol levels (low-density lipoproteins or LDLs) and decreasing good cholesterol levels (high-density lipoproteins or HDLs). They are also linked to higher incidence of heart disease and stroke, as well as type-2 diabetes. Trans fats were usually only found in solid margarine and vegetable shortening. But these days, due to its preservative function, they can be found in almost all mass produced and deep fried products. While there may be small amounts in the beef we eat, there is no conclusive evidence that natural trans fats have the same negative effects as its artificial counterpart.

Saturated Fats

these fats are harmless in small doses

Saturated fats occur naturally in a range of foods, particularly in meat and dairy products. You can recognise saturated fats by the way they become solid at room temperature, like boerewors or bacon fat. Saturated fats have been demonised for many years as they do have the potential to increase bad cholesterol levels but over the years, various studies have shown they may not be as bad as previously thought. While it is best to keep your intake to a minimum, saturated fats do have some health benefits, such as improving liver health, immunity and testosterone levels so one shouldn't try and cut them out completely. South African beef has low levels of saturated fats depending on the way in which it is produced.

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

the body’s little helpers

These good fats can be found in unrefined animal fats and selected plant fats. The human body needs these fats from food intake in order to function optimally because it doesn’t produce them naturally.

Beef is a known source of oleic acid - a healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. The primary polyunsaturated fat found in beef is linoleic acid, an Omega 6 fatty acid. Higher concentrations of the Omega 6 fatty acid can be found in grain fed beef, while a marginally higher prevalence of alpha-linolenic acid (an Omega 3 fatty acid) can be found in grass-fed beef.
 

Fat Grading

Fat Fact

The fat content in beef is graded according to the following codes of the South African Meat Industry Company (SAMIC).

These codes are determined through physical evaluation of the outer fat content of a carcass before it is divided into smaller retail cuts - so, the fat that is visible on the carcass. These range from 000 - no visible fat to 666 - an excessive amount of fat. Consumers will usually select beef according to the amount of fat they can see on the cut they are purchasing but ask your butcher if you're unsure.