My local Whole Foods here in northern California has a fantastic selection of meat, much of it organic: beef, bison, lamb, pork, and probably a few others that don't come immediately to mind. The store presents a choice between two kinds of Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef: "Lean" (no more than 16 percent fat) and "Extra Lean" (no more than 9 percent).
Since getting my ground beef there, I have found myself reflexively opting for "Extra Lean." Earlier today, waiting in line for my turn, it suddenly occurred to me that I couldn't explain to myself why I was opting for "Extra Lean" rather than "Lean." I mean, hey, I consume extra virgin coconut oil regularly, along with grass-fed butter. So I have no problem, in principle or in practice, with consuming saturated fat in my diet. Especially because my diet is grain free, and also because I always choose grass-fed, with pasture-fed a runner up when grass-fed's not available. And, for what it's worth, I also focus on keeping n-6 sources in check (minimizing nuts/seeds, as much as I love 'em) and keeping n-3 sources in good supply (wild salmon + supplementation).
Further detail: I successfully transitioned to the Paleo/Primal template a year ago. Have never felt better in all respects of my life. Just got my latest blood work done at Life Extension. Sweet stuff, including strong hormone readings, sans supplementation. I'm 57 and loving my life.
So, I find myself inclined to think that my reflexive (key word) preference for "Extra Lean" probably speaks to the extent that for years I've been conditioned by the media hegemony's ritualistic incantations: "Fat = bad. Saturated Fat = Extra Bad." Not unlike the conversation that still kicks in when I order a cappuccino and they ask me "low fat or regular?" Some part of me thinks it's "healthy" to choose what used to be called "skim" milk.
Then again, is it possible my preference isn't based solely on years of being lectured by men in white suits (MDs) and vegan propagandists like Dean Ornish and John Robbins? I keep wondering whether, possibly, there might actually be sound empirical reasons for one such as me to opt for "Extra Lean" over merely "Lean." Like, perhaps: "Just because saturated fat isn't Satan, that doesn't mean I should consume it to excess. By consuming Extra-Lean ground beef, I can look to other foods (like coconut, and unsweetened very very dark chocolate) as sources for some of my saturated fat."
Anyhow, I welcome input. What are some logical, empirically grounded criteria to bring with me next time I step up to the meat counter and face my fateful decision?
BTW: I'm aware that Paleo/Primal isn't exactly of one mind on the Sat-Fat issue. I'm hip to the various main opinions, and am not interested in reprising the controversy here, except to the extent that it's relevant to your response.