Showing posts with label difference between grass-fed and grain-fed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label difference between grass-fed and grain-fed. Show all posts

Monday, October 28, 2013

What’s the Big Deal About “Grass-Fed”?

Should you care about buying your beef from grass-fed cows?  It usually costs more than other kinds of beef but, other than price, is there any significant difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef?  Indeed there are several differences worth noting – and perhaps worth influencing your purchasing decisions. Seven key differences may steer you to grass-fed beef!

Grass fed cow

1.  The Grass-fed flavor difference

What goes in to an animal’s diet affects the flavor. Grass is the natural food for cattle – it was the primary diet years ago, before most farms were run by major producers.  For efficiency and cost reasons, the majority of cattle in the U.S. today are fed grain instead. 

Not surprisingly, there is a distinct taste difference between the burgers or steaks that come from grass-fed cattle.  Most describe the flavor of meat from grass-fed cattle as richer or more beef-like. 

This may be reason enough for you to consider trying grass-fed alternatives, but the remaining six health-related reasons are even more compelling.

2.  Grass-fed beef is lower in calories

Counting calories?  Then count on the beef of grass-fed steers instead of grain-fed.  The meat from grass-fed steer are lower in calories – about 100 calories lower than in a 6-ounce steak, for instance.   While that may not sound like much of a difference, consider the average amount of beef Americans eat; if you’re one of them, you will consume nearly 1,500 fewer calories each month by switching to grass-fed sources, and without eating any less meat! 

3.  Grass-fed meat has less saturated fat content

You’ll get a lot more bad fats when you eat regular, grain-fed cattle beef.  The meat of most grass-fed animals have considerably less total fat.  In the case of cattle, you’ll get about 50-66 percent less, depending on the  cut, which can lower your body’s LDL (bad fat) cholesterol levels.

4.  Grass-fed beef has more heart-healthy fats

These days, just about everyone knows that you can get Omega 3 oils (good-for-you fats) from certain kinds of fish, but did you know you can also boost your Omega 3’s by eating beef from grass-fed cattle? Compared to grain-fed, grass-fed livestock produce a meat that is 200 to 600 percent higher in HDLs – the kind of fat that helps you lower cholesterol levels.

5.  Grass-fed beef has higher amounts of CLA

If you’ve ever seen a product called CLA in the supplement section of your favorite retailers, and wondered what it is, CLA (which stands for conjugated linoleic acid) is being investigated for its value in treatment of disease-related weight loss, obesity, atherosclerosis, allergies, and even cancer.  In one study from Finland, for instance, women who were eating diets with higher amounts of CLA showed a 60 percent lower rate of breast cancer than those women who had very little CLA.

But you don't have to buy CLA in a bottle. It occurs naturally in some dairy products and meats, including beef. However, grass-fed beef weighs in with nearly five times the amount of CLA's as a grain fed.


6.  Grass-fed beef has more vitamin E

With studies released in the last few years that appear to link the antioxidant vitamin E with anti-aging and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease – especially when the vitamin E is sourced from foods rather than pills – you'll be happy to learn that beef is a vitamin E source. Once again, there is a "however" with this information – meat from cattle that have been grazing on grass has four times the vitamin E count as grain-fed cattle.

7.  Grass-fed beef is potentially safer

All the reasons above described what you get from grass-fed beef that you don't get in grain-fed beef. However, sometimes the choice on whether to choose one type of food over another – such as selecting organic produce over inorganically-grown produce – has as much to do with what you don't get as what you do.  In the case of grass-fed meat supplies:
  • When you buy beef labeled as grass-fed, the cattle have not been given hormones nor antibiotics – both standard in modern grain-fed cattle raising, and both of which can show up in the meat you eat.
  • You have less need to worry about mad cow disease. To date, mad cow disease has never been discovered in any grass-fed cattle.
  • You are also less likely to encounter E. coli bacteria – which has been found in some grain-fed cattle, but rarely in grass-fed cattle.

Grass-fed – cost vs. value

Yes, you'll likely pay a bit more for meat sourced from grass-fed cattle than from grain-fed cattle. But considering the health and flavor differences, grass-fed is certainly worth a try.  And if you do give it a try, tell us about it. What are your personal thoughts regarding the flavor difference, for instance.  You can share your thoughts on this using the comments field below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer