A look at “grass-fed” beef and why it is worth the hype
Many of you have seen the news promoting grass-fed meats the past few years. While this may seem like the latest craze, this trend will continue in health-conscious groups and topple the toxic meat industry.
Most of the meat you find at your typical grocery store is grain-fed, GMO grain most likely. Those cows are pumped with antibiotics and hormones to accelerate growth. The animals are housed in inhumane conditions. This is unhealthy for the cow and for consumers.
Now is the time to skip conventional, factory-farmed meats and choose the more nourishing and sustainable options offered by grass-fed beef. Say hello to a healthier planet, healthier animals and a healthier you.
There are many nutritional and environmental benefits to consuming 100% grass-fed/grass-finished beef, also known as pasture-raised beef.
When opting for the grass-fed meat always choose 100% organic.
Why Go Grass Fed
- Meat and eggs from pasture-raised animals are the healthiest choices to consume. Pasture feeding is the native diet of the animals, which allows them to freely forage for food. The animals can grow at their natural pace.
- Grass-fed animals are full of healthy vitamins A and E and increased antioxidants due to the natural, plant-based diet they consume. All animals eat insects as well. Great source of their protein.
- Pasture-raised meats are free of unnecessary chemicals such as artificial hormones, antibiotics and others. They are also free of cheap and harmful GMO’s, which tend to be low cost food options for factory-farmed animals.
- Animals store toxins in their fat, just like humans. Conventionally raised animals are raised on grains that are sprayed with chemicals. Again, they are also pumped with hormones and antibiotics, which can affect humans upon ingestion.
- Grass-fed meat is the more sustainable, environmental friendly option.
- Pasture-raised farms support local farmers and small family farms.
- The concept of pasture feeding is more natural and humane to the animals.
Science-Backed Benefits of Consuming Grass-Fed Meats
- Studies have consistently reported that grass-fed cows have significantly higher levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally raised animals1, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
- Grass-fed beef has been found to have an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Specifically, grass-fed beef has more than 30 mg of long chain omega-3 fatty acids per 100 g of muscle, which meets both Australia and New Zealand’s standard definition of a good food source of omega-3 fatty acids2.
- Additionally, grain-feeding has been shown to significantly decrease long chain omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in Australian beef while increasing total trans and saturated fats2.
- CLA is an important omega-6 fatty acid and potent antioxidant that protects against many chronic disorders such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. CLA is mainly found in ruminant animal foods and the levels of CLA vary depending on what those animals are fed. Studies have shown that in countries where people eat meat from grass-fed cows they have significantly higher intakes of CLA and subsequently lower rates of myocardial infarction and heart disease3.
- There is science-backed evidence to suggest that grass-fed meat has significantly higher levels of the heart-healthy antioxidant, vitamin E4. Along with this, grass-fed beef has been shown to contain the precursors to the important immune vitamins A and E4.
- Furthermore, cows given a grass-fed diet exhibit significantly higher levels of glutathione (GSH) antioxidant and superoxide dismutase (SOD) than their grain-fed counterparts4. Both GSH and SOD are powerful antioxidant catalysts aimed at fighting off harmful molecules and protecting the immune system.
- Grass-fed beef tends to have higher levels of stearic acid than grain-fed beef4. This is important as stearic acid has been proven to be anti-carcinogenic in which it can directly inhibit colony-forming proliferation of tumor cell lines5.
- Another novel study found that the diet animals are raised on determines the resulting oxidative susceptibility of the meat. This study reported that the meat from animals given a pasture diet had lipids that were protected from oxidation, further contributing to heart-health benefits6.
- Furthermore, the study found that due to lipid protection in meats this also results in significantly higher levels of vitamin E and superoxide dismutase (SOD) in grass-fed meat compared to grain-fed meat6, corroborating the evidence suggested earlier in this post. Again, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that aids in preventing disease and promoting health. SOD is a strong antioxidant enzyme that aims to fight off harmful free radicals in the body, systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, all of which increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis, stroke and other diseases. SOD enzymes are also highly detoxifying compounds that help to keep the body healthy.
How to Afford Grass-Fed Meat
- Check out the site Eat Wild, an online website dedicated to promoting the benefits of choosing 100% grass-fed meat and eggs. It actually provides a directory in which you can search by state and find a local farm to source your meat from directly. When searching through farms, you can also further seek out and select the organic farms.
- You can also order grass-fed meats to be delivered directly to your home. We recommend Butcher Box. They provide meats from animals who have been raised humanely and free of antibiotics and hormones. They’ll even give you free bacon and $10 off your first order.
- Start out by choosing some items to purchase and then stock up your freezer. Buying meat in bulk from local farms saves money, time and health.
- Keep your eyes open for sales at your local co-op or Whole Foods. Buy extra organic, grass-fed meat and freeze it when it goes on sale. This allows you to stock up your freezer with your favorite items. By purchasing in this way, you will always have healthy, grass-fed meat on hand for any recipe!
Try New Grass-Fed Recipes
- Hebeisen et al., 1993: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7905466
- Ponnampelan et al., 2006: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16500874
- Smit et al., 2010: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/92/1/34/4597390
- Daley et al., 2010: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219103
- Habib et al., 1987: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001814/pdf/brjcancer00509-0069.pdf
- Mercier et al., 2004: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0309174003001359