The Controversial Path to Healthy Connective Tissue

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Have you had a chance to take in an episode of “Parks and Recreation?” It’s a popular television sitcom produced in the U.S. The show has an avid cult following, largely due to the popularity of the main character, Ron Swanson. Swanson is all things masculine — he never cries, refuses to seek medical treatment for health problems, and loves fishing, hunting, and camping, with a little woodworking thrown in from time to time. As for diet, Ron Swanson is definitely not a vegetarian. In fact, he lists grilled hamburgers stuffed with fried turkey legs and bacon-wrapped shrimp as two of his favorite meals. While this health e-letter isn’t about to advocate a diet that includes dishes like these, Swanson may be on to something when it comes to meat-eating and robust health for men.

In a recent clinical trial performed at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, researchers investigated the possible health benefits of eating red meat. Specifically, they wanted to know how meat from grass-fed animals compared with concentrate-fed animals when it came to boosting health. The researchers devised a study that looked into the effects on plasma and platelet status of consuming meat from these two sources.

The randomized, double-blinded, dietary intervention was carried out for four weeks on healthy subjects. These participants replaced their habitual red meat intake with three portions per week of red meat (beef and lamb) from animals offered a finishing diet of either grass or a concentrate food mixture.

The research team measured plasma and platelet fatty acid composition, dietary intake, blood pressure, and serum lipids at the outset and conclusion of the study.

They found that the dietary intakes of plasma and platelet concentrations were significantly higher in those subjects who consumed red meat from grass-fed animals compared with those who consumed meat from concentrate-fed animals. No significant differences in concentrations of serum cholesterol or blood pressure were observed between groups.

The researchers concluded that consuming red meat from grass-fed animals can significantly increase plasma and platelet status when compared with a diet containing meat from concentrate-fed animals.

Having platelet-rich plasma means that you’ll be protected from excessive bleeding and experience better wound-healing. Platelets also release a bunch of special growth factors that have been shown to play a significant role in the repair and regeneration of your connective tissues.

Maybe Ron Swanson has things partially right — a little red meat can boost the health of your connective tissue. Healthy connective tissue is very important, as it is your body’s supporting framework of tissue. It is everywhere inside you and exists as strands of collagen, elastic fibers between muscles and around muscle groups, and blood vessels.

Maybe the best health advice is to eat red meat from grass-fed animals in moderation.

However, a vegetarian diet has many health benefits as well. See the article Why Vegetarians Are Less Prone to Diabetes, Heart Problems