Meat, eggs, full-fat dairy, and nutritional boogeymen: Does the way in which animals are raised affect health differently in humans?

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Critical reviews in food science and nutrition


BACKGROUND: Food recommendations to improve cancer prevention are generally based on epidemiologic data and remain inconsistent. These epidemiologic studies, while controversial, have generally produced results that caution against the consumption of high-fat foods, including eggs, red meat, and full-fat dairy, such as butter and cheese. Yet, limited data exist assessing the quality of individual sources of these foods and the effect each has after its consumption. This study set out to assess the impact sources of food within the same groups from animals raised differently on variables associated with health in human studies.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: A search was conducted through MEDLINE, Embase, and PubMed. In total, twenty-nine studies met inclusion criteria, measuring physiologic changes in humans after consuming animal products following animal diet manipulation. A meta-analysis was attempted to assess the differences between the cohorts in these studies, but was aborted due to poor study quality, vast differences in study design, and a limited number of studies.

RESULTS: Studies varied by animal, animal diet manipulation, food product, and overall design. Significant differences were present between groups eating the same food (cheese, beef, eggs, and butter) from animals raised differently, including levels of: conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids (alpha linoleic acid [ALA], docosahexaenoic acid [DHA], and eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]), and inflammatory factors (triacyl glycerol [TAG], interleukin-6 [IL-6], interleukin-8 [IL-8], tumor necrosis factor [TNF], and C-reactive protein [CRP]). Lipid levels were minimally affected.

CONCLUSIONS: This work highlights differences in human health markers after consumption of the same foods from animals raised differently. Overall, lipid levels remained relatively neutral, but significant changes in inflammatory and other serum markers and phospholipids were present. Future studies and dietary recommendations should consider how animals are raised, as this can produce different effects on health markers.

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Apr 19

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