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The Associated Press

BOZEMAN (AP) — Scientists at Montana State University believe they have found a way to create healthier meats by adding safflower to livestock feed.

Scientists found the safflower caused a 50 percent increase in an acid in the lambs’ meat that can ward off cancer and heart disease in humans, said Rodney Kott, MSU Extension Service sheep specialist.

In a year-long study, Kott and Pat Hatfield of the MSU Experiment Station added a variety of safflower called Morlin to lambs’ feed.

Morlin was chosen for the study because it is rich in linoleic acid. When it passes through an animal’s digestive system, it turns into what researchers call “conjugated linoleic acid.”

Even in small amounts, conjugated linoleic acid has been found to act as an antioxidant, lessening the likelihood of tumors and high cholesterol. Research in 1990 found CLAs were more potent antioxidants than vitamin E.

“It serves as a number of things and we don’t know totally how it works,” Kott said.

Safflower

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oil by itself does not have the same affect in humans. It must pass through another animal’s digestive system first to create the healthy acid. Conjugated linoleic acid already is present in milk and meats, especially lamb and beef.

“We don’t want to contribute to the idea that meat is unhealthy; that is a myth,” Kott said. “We’re just taking a good product and trying to make it better.”

While the study was only on lamb, Kott said the results could be applied to beef as well. Additional tests on cattle are planned, he said.

The study’s results are consistent with those from similar studies in Wyoming and Canada.

“We may be able to create a meat that is healthier than most and may be therapeutic in some cases,” Kott said.

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