Grass Fed Beef Nutrition
3 Grass-Fed Beef Nutrition Health Benefits
1. Potential Cancer Fighter
Regardless if your making Grass Fed Beef Hamburgers, or chuck steak cuts, grass fed is the way to go healthy. There are actually 16 different types of CLA, each providing a unique and highly important health benefit. CLA has been shown in numerous animal studies since 1994 to promote health and fight disease. From cancer fighting to weight loss, CLA is being touted worldwide as a “must have” in your diet for optimal health today and into tomorrow.
CLA sources have proved their ability as cancer fighting foods in multiple animal studies. As a study published in the journal Cancer pointed out CLA is unique in the fact that it comes from animal source since the majority of natural, anticancer substances are of plant origin.
In 2000, a Finnish study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer demonstrated that there may also be anticarcinogenic effects of CLA for humans. In this study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diets had a lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels of CLA.
2. Reduces Heart Disease Risk
CLA is certainly one of the top highlights of grass-fed beef nutrition, and it’s been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease. This is just one of several heart benefits possessed by grass-fed beef nutrition that may not be true of other varieties of beef.
The main reasons why grass-fed beef can benefit heart health include: (7)
- Less overall fat and unhealthy fat
- Higher levels of heart-healthy omega 3.
- More CLA
- Lower levels of dietary cholesterol
- More heart disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin E.
3. Improves Blood Sugar
Getting enough healthy fats in your diet is extremely helpful to keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level. In a recent study, The randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study found that 37 percent of the patients treated with CLA exhibited improvements in insulin sensitivity.
Clearly, the benefits of grass-fed beef nutrition are not just for adults.
Grass-Fed Beef Nutrition Facts
Are you wondering, what do cows eat? If left to its own devices, a cow will eat and thrive on a diet that’s very grass-centric with a few other foraged plants like clover thrown in. A cow has a digestive system quite different from a human’s, one that’s truly meant to flourish eating that common green flooring we all know as grass. (13)
Grass-fed beef comes from cattle that consume only grass and other foraged foods during the course of their lives. What a cow eats directly affects the types and levels of nutrients and fats you get from eating meat from that cow.
How to Find and Cook with Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef does typically cost more per pound, but I truly think it’s worth the slightly higher price tag. Most grocery stores now offer an organic section that carries at least one, if not a few, version of grass-fed beef. You don’t want to settle for “natural” or “pasture-raised.” Ideally you want the label to tell you that the beef is 100 percent grass-fed, which means that it was both grass-fed AND grass-finished. If a beef product does not indicate that it’s 100 percent grass-fed or both grass-fed and grass-finished, then it could likely be grain-finished. Make sure the label also indicates that the beef is free of hormones and antibiotics.
It’s another plus if you see a label from theAmerican Grassfed Association (AGA) or American Food Alliance (AFA) on the packaging. The AGA and AFA are organizations that have stricter requirements than the USDA when it comes to grass-fed labeling.
Large chain grocery stores tend to carry one brand or line of meats. If this is where you plan to purchase your grass-fed beef, first do a little research into the company selling the grass-fed beef. Be sure that this company is one you think is honest, reliable and a trustworthy source of grass-fed beef nutrition. The official listing of operations included on the USDA Grass Fed Program is not very large but has been growing, especially over the past decade or so. (15)
Choosing products that are grass-fed AND organic is even better. It’s important to note that grass-fed does not equal organic, and organic does not equal grass-fed. It’s possible that grass-fed cows roaming the pasture consume synthetic fertilizers and herbicides used on the grass. So if you really want to get the most natural, cleanest beef possible, buying organic, grass-fed is definitely the way to go. But also note that there are some farmers who raise their cows organically and grass-fed but just can’t afford the organic certification. That’s why it’s important to research or really know the source of your meat.
One of the best options for eating grass-fed beef is to locate a local farmer in your area who raises cattle on open, free ranges, feeds them only fresh and dried grasses, and doesn’t use any type of pharmaceuticals, such as hormones or antibodies. I believe that when you shop locally for your foods, from beef to apples, you’ll be healthier and happier. You’ll also contribute to your local community in ways that only buying locally can.
Grass-fed beef does have a different taste than grain-fed. Some people describe it as a more earthy or grassy flavor, and many people prefer the taste to grain-fed beef. It’s also important to know that since grass-fed beef is inherently less fatty, it cooks around 30 percent faster than grain-fed beef. (16)
Grass-Fed Beef History and Interesting Facts
Cows are meant to spend their lives peacefully grazing on grass in wide-open pastures, but most cows today are raised in a confined animal feeding operation or concentrated animal feeding operation known as a CAFO. In these massive facilities, not only are the cows confined and overcrowded, but they also don’t eat what’s best for them. Rather, they eat what makes them the fattest and hence yields the most money. When these poor cows get sick (which easily happens with the far from ideal living conditions), they’re typically pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.
It’s said that a grain-fed, feed-lot cow can grow to be big enough for slaughter up to an entire year faster than a cow that’s fed only grass, foraged foods and hay. For grass-fed beef producers, it’s not just time they battle, but there are also higher operating costs, a shortage of processors, and consumer hesitance to make the switch to grass-fed because of concerns about differences in taste and texture.
According to Jo Robinson, author of “Pasture Perfect,” “If you eat a typical amount of beef per year, which in the United States is about 67 pounds, switching to grass-fed beef will save you 16,642 calories a year.” (17) This waist line-saving perk is just one of the many reasons why we should be grateful for the hard work of grass-fed cattle raisers.
The demand for better quality beef has been rising over the past few decades, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Some fast food chains like Carl’s Jr.® now offer a burger made from grass-fed beef, which is a far cry from the antibiotics in fast food that are more typical. Carl’s Jr. calls it “fast food’s first All-Natural Burger,” which it further describes as “a grass-fed, free-range charbroiled beef patty with no added hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.” (18) Hopefully, more food purveyors will follow this lead, but while they’re focus on improving their meat, they should also make sure there is no high fructose corn syrup in their ketchup and use a bun that isn’t loaded with questionable ingredients.
Final Thoughts on Grass-Fed Beef Nutrition
When you eat grass-fed beef, not only are you doing something good for yourself, but you’re also eating with a conscious and promoting the proper treatment of cows. If you’ve been eating grain-fed beef for most of your life, you may feel confused right now, unsure of how to make a change to eating grass-fed beef. Don’t worry, as the world becomes more aware of just what’s going on with what’s on our dinner plates, the demand for grass-fed, free-range beef is on the rise, which increases its availability for you, the educated consumer.
Now that you know the real facts about that steak on your dinner plate, what will you do? When faced with change many can become scared into inaction or denial. I urge you to take control of your own health by choosing carefully what you eat and how you live. Choosing to benefit from grass-fed beef nutrition is a powerful step toward living a healthy, abundant life, as grass-fed beef nutrition has been shown to potentially fight cancer, reduce heart disease risk, improve blood sugar levels and even benefit the environment, all while being a safer beef option that’s free of hormones and antibiotics.