There is a plethora of reasons to ask for grass and go against the grain when choosing your beef: environmental conservation, health of cattle, quality of meat, and building sustainable local economies, to name a few.
But today, we’re going to focus on health, your health. When it comes to grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, there are a few nutritional facts that should enter into the equation.
- Firstly, grass-fed beef is 3 to 5 times higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a fatty acid that improves muscle growth and fat burning. In addition to being linked with long-term weight management, CLA research has shown it to have positive influence in combating cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure, among others. Grass-fed beef and dairy products from grass-fed cattle are touted as uniquely good sources of CLA.
- Another fatty acid that grass-fed beef contains 2-5 times more of is omega-3. Omega-3 acids are known to be important for normal metabolism, reducing inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, research suggests they are important in cognitive and behavioral functioning because they are highly concentrated in the brain.
- Arguably more important than the amount of omega-3 is the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Ideally, in the human body the balance would be around 3:1 (omega-6: omega-3). Some testing has shown that our intake could be closer to that of 10:1 or even 20:1. A major contributor to this is the “fattening up” of cows by finishing them with grain before they are processed, thus distorting the ratio, sometimes to as high as 13:1. It’s worrying to note that many chronic diseases are linked to omega-3 deficiencies, and as well as this omega-6: omega-3 distortion. Where does grass-fed beef fall in the ratio? The average tends to be a little more than 2:1!
These are just three from a long list of reasons why grass-fed is the healthier choice!