Building A Better Burger

Canadian scientists say they can “build an even better beef burger” by taking advantage of new knowledge about healthy components found naturally in beef. There is growing evidence for the health benefits of these fatty acids, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3.

“We’ve learned a lot about the health benefits of fatty acids found naturally in beef,” Dr. John Basarab, a beef researcher with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development said in a release. “Now it’s time to turn this knowledge into product innovations for the consumer.

Basarab is a member of the CLA Network, a team of scientists representing producers, industry, government and the research and academic community. The Beef Information Centre, the market development division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, is one of the CLA Network partners.

CLA is formed naturally in beef cattle when linoleic acid from digested plant material is converted into CLA through activity by microorganisms in the rumen.

The CLA Network says natural CLA contains antioxidant, anti-cancer and other health-boosting properties. Substantial health-related potential has also been shown for vaccenic acid (VA), another natural fatty acid found in beef. It converts into CLA once inside the human body.

CLA Network researchers say they have confirmed that beef products already contain natural CLA and VA and there is potential to consistently increase them by two to three times through natural and simple livestock dietary strategies and other production approaches.

Dr. Jennifer Aalhus with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says the initial focus should be to develop enhanced ground beef. This would lead to similar potential for other enhanced beef products.

Human clinical trials are planned within the next several years.

More information is available in a feature article at www.CLAnetwork.com.

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