Lamb: Delicious & Good for You
When you think of the phrase “health food,” what comes to mind? Fat-free fiber crackers that look and taste like cardboard? If decades of sound-bytes about red meat and saturated fat have convinced you the only way to stay healthy is to tolerate dry, flavorless foods devoid of anything that could possibly taste good, think again. How about a succulent roast leg of lamb, marinated in rosemary and mint, with a yogurt sauce for dipping? If that sounds like health food you can get on board with, you’re in luck!
When you think about vitamins and minerals, you likely think first about fruits and vegetables. These plant foods do contain healthful nutrients, but the surprising truth is, the meat of ruminant animals contains an array of nutrients that rivals most produce. The nutrient profile of lamb is similar to that of grass-fed beef, which is known for its generous concentration of minerals and B vitamins. Besides being a fantastic source of complete protein (meaning, it contains all the essential amino acids), lamb provides off-the-charts amounts of B vitamins, and is particularly high in niacin and B12. It’s also loaded with zinc, iron, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium, and even contains appreciable amounts of magnesium—a mineral more closely associated with leafy green vegetables. In light of all this, lamb might be nature’s tastiest multivitamin
Lamb is a staple food year-round in some regions of the world, but in North America, it’s eaten more commonly in spring. Cultural practices and religious rituals dating back thousands of years used the traditional sacrifice of a lamb to honor religious laws and mark the beginning of the spring season. In the modern age, many families’ Easter dinners and Passover Seders wouldn’t be complete without a centerpiece of succulent lamb
If you’ve ever had the gastronomic pleasure of indulging in a roasted leg of lamb, dripping with fat and juices, then you know there’s more to lamb than just its meat. Mutton tallow—the rendered fat of an older sheep—contains mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats, with a smaller amount of polyunsaturated. A growing body of scientific research suggests that, in the context of a lower-carbohydrate diet, dietary saturated fats have little undesirable effect on blood lipids (such as cholesterol and triglycerides). Moreover, despite the nearly automatic association of red meat with saturated fat, the predominant type of fat in mutton tallow is actually not saturated, but monounsaturated. In fact, it’s oleic acid, which is the very same one that is believed to be responsible for some of olive oil’s health-promoting properties
Mutton fat is also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat. With about 4.7g ALA and 11.3g linoleic acid (an omega-6 fat) per cup, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is approximately 2.4:1, making it an ideal part of any low-carb or Paleo-style diet. (The modern Western diet tends to contain very high levels of omega-6 fats and low levels of omega-3, which may promote unhealthy levels of inflammation and negatively influence cardiovascular health.
Lamb is delicious and nutritious all by itself, but its nutrient profile gets boosted even higher from some of the culinary preparations commonly paired with it. Herb rubs and marinades containing fresh lemon juice, rosemary and mint are classic with lamb, as is yogurt sauce. Yogurt contains probiotics that support immune health and aid in digestion. Like many other culinary herbs, rosemary and mint contain phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties and help support a healthy inflammatory response
So, if you haven’t already, try a meal containing lamb, and treat yourself to a dish that’s as good for your taste buds as it is for the rest of your body. Here are a couple recipes to get you thinking about how to incorporate this nutrient powerhouse into your diet:
PurePaleo™ Protein contains over 97% protein and is ideal for those on a Paleo diet or anyone who wants the unique protein profile that comes only from beef. Its protein source, HydroBEEF™, contains critical nutrients that are naturally found in beef, including a significant amount of collagen-specific amino acids, along with various minerals and vitamins such as the fat soluble vitamins A and D, as well as natural forms of the B vitamins. It has an impressive protein nitrogen score of 101.5, which indicates high protein usability.
Dr. Brady’s Recommended Source of Quality Grass-Fed Lamb and other Meats
Simopoulos AP. The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008 Jun;233(6):674-88.
Forsythe et al. Limited Effect of Dietary Saturated Fat on Plasma Saturated Fat in the Context of a Low Carbohydrate Diet Lipids. 2010 Oct; 45(10): 947–962.
al-Sereiti MR1, Abu-Amer KM, Sen P. Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Feb;37(2):124-30.