Grass-fed beef is becoming a more recognizable term when shopping for meat. But there’s some confusion between the definitions grass-fed and grass-finished. If grass-fed beef describes meat from cattle that ate grass, what does the term “grass-finished” mean? Don’t they both mean the same thing? Not quite. Simply put, grass-finished beef comes from cattle that ate nothing but grass and forage for their entire lives. Grass-fed, on the other hand, may be used to label meat from cattle that have that were started on a grass diet but have either received supplemental grain feed or are finished on a fully grain-based diet. Many “grass-fed” cows spend the last few months of their lives eating grain in feedlots to help them quickly gain weight before going to slaughter. Cattle are not required to have a full grass-fed diet in order to get the grass-fed label on your beef’s packaging. Moreover, “grass-fed” cows are not necessarily pasture-raised.
There are several reasons to choose grass-fed and grass-finished beef, including a number of significant health benefits. Grass-finished beef is 20% lower in calories than grain-finished beef and has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, CLA’s (Conjugated Linoleic Acid — an essential fatty acid that fights cancer and inhibits body fat), and Vitamins A and E.
- According to a study at California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef nutrition includes significantly more omega-3 fatty acids and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef, one of the best protein foods around, is also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E and cancer-fighting antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef. (Read more on CLA here) If you haven’t heard of CLA yet, it’s a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid we must obtain from our diets that’s been shown to help fight cancer, discourage weight gain and build muscle, and high-quality grass-fed beef and butter from healthy, grass-fed cows or other animals are the top sources of CLA.
CLA is considered to be one of the strongest nutrient to defend against cancer. A study conducted on women who were provided high amounts of CLA-rich foods had roughly a 60% lower risk in breast cancer over those who had little to no amounts of CLA in their diet[*].
Research done on laboratory animals who were given a very small amount of CLA – less than 1% of daily caloric intake – provided a reduction in tumor growth. Most naturally occurring nutrients containing anticarcinogenic properties are derived from plant foods. CLA is unique because it’s one of the only anticancer nutrients derived from meat, with grass fed containing more than grain fed.
- Grass fed beef also provides up to six times more of the healthy fats, “omega-3 fatty acids”.
While these fatty acids are more prevalent in fatty fish such as salmon, grass fed beef can be a great alternative.
Here are some of the benefits from increased Omega 3 consumption:
- Alleviates Rheumatoid arthritis – Omega 3’s are highly effective in decreasing all markers of inflammation[*].
- Helps with depression – Researchers have seen an increase in mental well-being by supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Helps you focus – Recent studies conducted show omega-3’s to be a promising alternative to alleviate attention deficit disorders (ADHD) over stimulant medications.
Because the majority of the brain is made up of fat, consuming more healthy fats can help relieve several neurological disorders.
More than half (actually 80%) of all antibiotics sold in the United States go directly to livestock such as cows, chicken, turkey and pigs. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the diet and lives that grain fed animals undergo is extremely poor. Cows that aren’t grass-fed live on diets of grain and are typically given hormones to unnaturally increase their weight and hence yield more meat. The main reason farmers use more antibiotics is that as meat demand goes up, animals are confined to smaller and smaller spaces, and this greatly increases the spread of disease. The use of antibiotics in meat, particularly factory-farmed meats (think dollar menu burger), contributes to antibiotic resistance in human, which is why it’s so important that you not only question what goes in your body, but what goes in the body of the animals you put on your dinner plate.
The risk of food poisoning is greatly reduced with grass fed beef when compared to grain fed beef.
One of the largest studies conducted by Consumer Reports analyzed 300 packages of ground beef. They found an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in three of the grain fed samples and zero in the grass fed packages.
Additionally, they found 18% of the non grass fed beef samples containing superbugs – bacteria that is resistant to more than 3 types of antibiotics – compared to only 9% of beef samples from grass fed livestock[*].
- Grass Fed Beef Decreases Risk of Heart Disease
Clinical evidence concludes a decreased risk of heart disease with an increased consumption of CLA, a nutrient abundant in grass fed beef[*].
Grass fed beef helps mitigate heart disease with:
- Antioxidants such as vitamin E
- High amounts of omega-3 fatty acids
- Less unhealthy fats
- Lower amounts of bad cholesterol, known as LDL Cholesterol.
The next time you go to purchase your ground turkey or hamburger beef, think about where it came from and if you are healing your body or causing more harm. A great place to purchase grass fed-grass finished meat is through https://www.alderspring.com