Red meat, especially beef, has gotten a really bad rep in the nutrition world these days. However, there are newer studies that have been looking at the nutritional differences in the types of beef, comparing grass-fed and corn-fed cattle. Researchers are suggesting that perhaps beef is not the unhealthy protein we recently believed.
Cattle farmers first made the switch from grass to corn feed years ago because corn allows them to fatten up their cattle faster. Studies have shown that an animal’s diet can have an impact on the nutritional content of the meat on the consumer’s table. With grass-fed cows, omega-3s are in their meat because they’re eating grasses and clover rich in these heart-healthy fatty acids. A recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that grass-fed steak has about twice as many omega-3s as a typical grain-fed steak. Not only does grass-fed meat have more beneficial fatty acids, it has also been shown to overall contain less fat, more vitamins and to be a good source of a variety of nutrients.
According to a study published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2009, eating grass-fed beef provides many benefits to consumers. Do you enjoy the occasional hamburger? Make it a healthier one by choosing to use grass-fed beef instead of conventional beef at your next BBQ.
Ten Grass-Fed Beef Benefits to Consumers
- Lower in total fat
- Higher in beta-carotene (antioxidant)
- Higher in vitamin E (antioxidant)
- Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
- Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
- Higher in total omega-3s
- A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
- Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential heart disease and cancer fighter
- Higher in vaccenic acid (a compound which can be transformed into CLA)
- Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease
- Leheska JM, et al. Effects of conventional and grass-feeding systems on the nutrient composition of beef. Journal of Animal Science. 2008;86:3575.
- Daley CA, et al. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10.
- S.K. Duckett et al, Journal of Animal Science, (published online) June 2009, “Effects of winter stocker growth rate and finishing system on: III. Tissue proximate, fatty acid, vitamin and cholesterol content.” http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/87/9/2961.long
- Union of Concerned Scientists. Greener Pastures: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/solutions/advance-sustainable-agriculture/greener-pastures.html