Why Grassfed Beef Is Healthier for You

Wondering why grass-fed and grass-finished beef raised with regenerative, organic practices is healthier than conventional grain-finished beef that is common at most grocery stores and restaurants? It boils down to a more natural diet for the cattle, leading to a higher concentration of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and CLA in your steak, alongside a lower risk of exposure to glyphosate and other synthetic pesticides and herbicides. This article cuts through the complexities to provide nutritional science, health implications, and the broader environmental and ethical advantages of choosing grassfed beef—without overselling or technical jargon.

Key Takeaways

  • Grassfed beef is more nutritious, offering higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, and antioxidants – which can boost heart health and reduce the risk of cancer, compared to grainfed beef. It is often called a nutrient-dense superfood.

  • Choosing grassfed beef reduces the chance of antibiotic resistance and bacterial contamination and supports better animal welfare, with cows experiencing less stress in more natural living conditions.

  • When buying and cooking grassfed beef, it’s available from various sources like local markets or online, and the source of the beef and types of grazing practices are often easier to verify when bought locally versus what is available in the store.

Grassfed vs. Grainfed: The Great Beef Debate

The distinction between grassfed and grainfed beef hinges on the cows’ diet and its subsequent impacts. Grassfed and grass-finished cows consume a diet primarily of grass, benefiting from regenerative agriculture practices that promote soil microbial diversity and increase land resilience. This not only influences ecosystem health but also enhances the nutritional profile of the beef they produce. On the other hand, grainfed cows have a diet that can include soy, corn, candy, chicken litter, and other additives, leading to a significant difference in the quality and nutritional value of the beef they produce.

The choice between grassfed and grainfed beef extends beyond flavor preference, influencing our health, the environment, and the well-being of the animals we source our meat from. Thus, it’s worthwhile to examine these diets and their consequences in depth, especially when considering a healthy diet.

Grassfed Cows’ Natural Diet

Cows that are fed on grass have a diverse diet comprising:

  • Various types of grass and native perennials

  • Leguminous plants like alfalfa and clovers

  • A range of different grass species, including Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, and ryegrass

  • Plant matter such as leaves, twigs or even bark from shrubs and trees

The specialized digestive system found in these ruminant animals allows them to efficiently process the nutrients available in their plant-centric diets. They engage in a unique consumption cycle where they regurgitate previously consumed food to chew it again—a behavior known as ‘chewing cud.’’ This cyclic digestion method combined with the varying protein levels present throughout the year within the pastures they graze on has an effect on the nutritional value inherent in their beef. The rumen gives the cow an amazing ability to concentrated nutrients, minerals, and phytonutrients in its muscle and fat, resulting in exceptional nutrient density.

Grainfed Cows’ Industrial Diet

Contrasting sharply with the natural diet of grassfed cows is the industrial diet of grainfed cows. Their diet includes:

  • Specially formulated feed based on grains

  • Additives such as candy and chicken litter

  • Supplements

  • Hormones

  • Antibiotics

Grain-fed cattle are fattened on high-energy corn and other grains in a feedlot, which facilitates quick weight gain and the production of fat-marbled beef. Sometimes this feed includes expired candy and chicken litter. All of these things put weight on the cow quicker, but negatively impact the nutritional value of the beef and the health of the animal. This diet can lead to health issues like bloat, acidosis, ulcers, liver disease, and weakened immune systems, which can induce stress and impact meat quality.

Nutritional Advantages of Grassfed and Grass-finished Beef

Plate Of Cooked Grass-Fed Beef With Vegetables

From a nutritional standpoint, grassfed beef has the advantage. Consuming grass fed beef provides higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and antioxidants compared to grainfed beef. These nutritional advantages translate into various health benefits, making grassfed beef a healthier choice for conscious consumers.

Compared to regular grain-fed beef, grassfed beef has better grass fed beef nutrition, including:

  • up to six times more omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for heart health

  • three to five times more CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) than beef from animals fed conventional diets, making it the richest known source of CLA

  • less saturated fat, which is beneficial for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Structure

Beef from cattle that have been grass-fed is richer in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining heart health and have properties that help to reduce inflammation. Grass fed beef includes higher levels of key omega-3s such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

To grain fed beef, the overall composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids in grass fed beef leads to a more favorable n-6 to n-3 fatty acid ratio. This amplifies improves its anti-inflammatory qualities and establishes it as an enhanced option for those looking to increase their consumption of these beneficial fatty acids.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA is another star player in the nutritional profile of grass-fed beef. This fatty acid is beneficial for reducing body fat, improving insulin sensitivity, and potentially fighting cancer. Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of total CLA isomers and trans vaccenic acid (TVA), beneficial for reducing body fat and the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Research has also linked CLA with the following benefits:

  • Lower risk of breast cancer in women with higher dietary CLA levels

  • Reduction of inflammation

  • Suppression of tumor growth

  • Promotion of fat loss

  • Reduction of oxidative stress

Furthermore, the specific CLA isomer found in grass-fed meat, cis-9, trans-11 (c9t11), is associated with these benefits.

Lower Bacterial Risk in Grassfed Beef

Grass-Fed Cows Grazing In A Natural Environment

The decision to choose grass fed beef isn’t solely based on its nutritional benefits. Eating grass fed beef also comes with a lower risk of bacterial contamination. Grass fed beef generally has a lower risk of contamination because grain-fed cows are often administered growth hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease due to crowded feedlot conditions, potentially increasing the risk of bacterial contamination and antibiotic resistance.

Compared to grassfed or sustainably-produced beef, conventionally raised cattle’s beef is more prone to contamination with bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. Research, including a Consumer Reports study testing 300 packages of ground beef, found a higher incidence of bacteria in conventional beef compared to sustainably-produced beef. This underscores the lower bacterial risk associated with grassfed beef consumption.

Environmental and Animal Welfare Considerations

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The benefits of grass fed beef are not limited to nutrition and health. Choosing grass-fed beef also supports animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Advocates argue that it represents a commitment to animal welfare, with cows living in conditions more aligned with their natural behaviors, leading to less stress and anxiety. Grass-fed cattle are typically not subjected to crowding, and calves stay with their mothers longer, both of which contribute to animal well-being.

From a green standpoint, these cattle contribute to soil health by recycling nutrients back into the ground through their manure, thereby assisting in ecosystem restoration. While some argue that grass-fed beef may produce higher greenhouse gas emissions due to slower growth and more methane, others point out the carbon-trapping benefits of these systems may offset the methane.

Making the Switch: How to Purchase and Cook Grassfed Beef

Recognizing the benefits for health, animal welfare, and environmental impact associated with grassfed beef may lead you to consider changing your dietary choices. You might now be wondering where one can purchase grassfed beef and what cooking methods best enhance its distinct taste and tenderness.

Investigation into these matters is warranted at this juncture.

Where to Buy Grassfed Beef

Sourcing grassfed beef may be simpler than you imagine. Here are some places where you can find it:

  • Local farmers’ markets: a great place to find grassfed beef and converse directly with the farmers about their practices.

  • If you are in the state of Louisiana, you can purchase grass-fed and grass-finished beef from our farm, Willow Creek Ranch. The benefits of purchasing from us include knowing how your beef was raised, convenience in selecting individual cuts according to your preference, and free delivery in the Baton Rouge area. You can see some of our options here: https://willowcreekranchbr.com/product-category/all-farm-products/grassfed-beef/

For those seeking convenience, online retailers present an avenue to buy organic beef, including purchasing grass fed beef, providing detailed information about the sourcing and farming methods. When buying online, remember to research prices, shipping options, and how to ensure that the product is fresh upon delivery.

Another option is to join community-supported agriculture programs that sometimes include grassfed beef in their subscription offerings.

Cooking Tips for Grassfed Beef

The leaner composition and distinctive flavor of grassfed lean beef require a slightly different cooking approach than conventional beef. Begin by thawing the beef to room temperature before cooking and let it sit out after seasoning for flavors to penetrate. Consider marinating or using a spice rub with salt for moisture and to break down connective tissue.

In the cooking process, ensure you:

  1. Preheat and clean the grill

  2. Swiftly sear the meat on high heat before lowering the temperature

  3. Utilize cookware that heats evenly, taking care not to puncture the meat

  4. Monitor the beef with a meat thermometer

  5. Accommodate for the approximately 30% less cooking time grassfed beef requires

To preserve the juices and improve tenderness, let the beef rest after cooking, employ techniques such as basting with butter or juices, and use tools that avoid puncturing the meat.

Summary

In summary, beef raised on grass boasts numerous advantages including enhanced nutritional content, a decreased likelihood of bacterial contamination, advocacy for animal welfare, and reinforcement of ecological sustainability. With the choices we make at the dining table, we wield influence over both personal health and environmental well-being. Why not opt for an option that is pleasing to the palate while also being beneficial?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why grass-fed beef is a superfood?

Beef from grass-fed sources is hailed as a superfood, brimming with a dense array of nutrients including an abundance of B vitamins, vitamin D, and iron—a nutritional profile that outshines its grain-fed counterpart.

Is 100 grass-fed beef inflammatory?

Indeed, beef that is 100% grass-fed may contribute to lowering inflammation owing to its elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids and advantageous fats. With grain-fed counterparts.

Are grass fed cows treated better?

It is not a given that cows nourished on grass are treated more humanely than those reared in feedlots.

Where can I buy grassfed beef?

If you are in the state of Louisiana, you can purchase grass-fed and grass-finished beef from our farm, Willow Creek Ranch. The benefits of purchasing from us include knowing how your beef was raised, convenience in selecting individual cuts according to your preference, and free delivery in the Baton Rouge area. You can see some of our options here: https://willowcreekranchbr.com/product-category/all-farm-products/grassfed-beef/

How should I cook grassfed beef?

To cook grassfed beef, thaw it to room temperature, consider marinating or using a spice rub, monitor with a meat thermometer, and let it rest after cooking to retain juices and enhance tenderness.

Enjoy your meal!