Grass-Fed Meat VS Grain Fed Meat

It’s no surprise that Vegetables are beneficial for lowering blood pressure; reducing risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu).

Here’s why I’m not a vegan and why Grass-Fed meat isn’t just beneficial for building lean muscle and fighting fat, but also for basic heart and health function.

Study 1: 

Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health.

Researchers compared the fatty acid compositions of three kinds of feeding.  Each group contained 18 Australian cattle.  The first group was fed grains  80 days before slaughter, the second group was fed “by-product feedstuff” for 200 days, and the third group was grass-finished and grass-fed.

Group #1: Short Term Grain Feeding (80 days)

Group #2: Long Term Feedlot Rations* (150-200 days)

Group#3: Grass Feeding (Life time)

*Feedlot rations for australian beef are made of 50 percent barley and/or sorghum (a type of wheat) and some form of cottonseed/protein mix:  A mixture of grains.

Results

The grass-fed cows had more omega-3’s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  Just 80 days of grain feeding was enough to destroy the omega-3 content of the beef.  CLA content plummeted in the same amount of time.  The longer the animals were fed grains, the lower the quality of the meat.

“There was a significantly higher level of total omega-3 (n-3) and long chain n-3 FA in grass-fed beef than the grain-fed groups regardless of cut types.”

“The omega-3 quantity in grain-fed meat was so low, it didn’t qualify as a meaningful dietary source.  Grass-fed meat has enough omega-3 to be considered a good source of n-3 fats.  As Chris Masterjohn has shown us, the total amount of omega-3 we need is small if you have a good omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.  Therefore, eating grass-fed meat along with some fatty fish may be enough to cover your omega-3 needs.

“Only grass-fed beef reached the target of more than 30mg of long chain n-3 FA/100 g muscle as recommended by Food Standard Australia and New Zealand for a food to be considered a source of omega-3 fatty acids.”

Grain feeding significantly reduces the omega-3 and CLA content of meat.  The feedlot cattle had the lowest levels, the grain-fed cattle were in the middle, and the grass-fed cattle had the most.  The longer an animal is fed grains, the lower the nutrient content of the meat.

Grass-fed beef is up to three times leaner than grain-fed beef, and can have up to 15 fewer calories per ounce than meat from a grain-fed cow. Grass-fed meat also provides more and more balanced omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids, which help guard against a variety of ailments.

Researchers have found grass- fed beef also contains two newly discovered “good” fats, and more beta carotene, vitamin E and folic acid. These health benefits decline significantly with even three months of grain feeding, even if the grain is organic. “What’s not in grass-fed beef that is in grain-fed beef is important, too,” Robinson told the magazine Mother Earth News.

 Now Vegetables! Is only eating a vegan diet beneficial?

your thoughts?

Summary

  • Grain-fed beef is much lower in omega-3’s and CLA
  • The longer steers are fed grains, the lower the omega-3 and CLA content.
  • Feedlot cattle have the lowest amount of omega-3‘s.  Regular grain-fed cattle are slightly better.
  • The last part of a cow’s life is the most critical in terms of fat quality.

Meat can be a good source of omega-3’s, if it’s grass-fed.  Grain-fed meat has lower levels, so you’ll need to eat a lot of cold water ocean fish or take fish oil supplements to reach your daily omega-3 requirements.  Grass-fed meat has more healthy fats than grain-fed meat.

This study only covered a few types of fats.  The next study in this series will show how grass-fed beef has a broad spectrum of beneficial fats and other nutrients that are missing from grain-fed meat.

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