Maybe up until now you haven’t thought too much about what the animals you eat today were fed yesterday. That’s pretty common for most folks, but there really is a difference between grass-fed beef and the rest.
You may have heard the terms “grass-fed” or “open range” and “grain-fed,” not knowing the real difference between them.
Once you understand the vital differences between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef, you’ll have a better understanding of why this distinction is so important.
Today, most of the beef you find on the grocery store shelves has been fed a grain diet. In general, these cows are fed corn and soy, but often there’s more on their menu than strictly grains.
The reality is that cattle are fed whatever is the cheapest source of energy and will fatten them up the most.
Let’s look at exactly how grass-fed beef nutrition can really benefit your health and why it’s an overall better choice for yourself, your loved ones and the environment.
What Is Grass-Fed Beef?
Grass-fed beef is a red meat that’s considered one of the best protein foods around. In October of 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established a standard definition for the “grass-fed” claim that requires continuous access to pasture and prevents animals from being fed grain or grain-based products.
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 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 a 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.
But the benefits of grass-fed beef are well worth making the extra effort, especially when you break down its nutritional value. Grass-fed burgers and steaks include significantly more omega-3 fatty acids and more conjugated linoleic acid(CLA) than grain-fed beef.
Grass-fed beef is also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E and cancer-fighting antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef.
If you haven’t heard of CLA yet, it’s a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid we must obtain from our diets (such as a Paleo or ketogenic diet) 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.
1. Potential Cancer Fighter
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 touted worldwide as a “must have” in your diet for optimal health today and into tomorrow. Studies on conjugated linoleic acids show their ability to prevent and treat cancer as well as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
CLA sources have proved their ability as cancer-fighting foods in multiple animal studies. As a study published in the journal Cancer suggests, CLA is unique in the fact that it comes from animal sources since the majority of natural, anticancer substances are of plant origin. Additionally, animal-derived CLA’s “anticancer efficacy is expressed at concentrations close to human consumption levels.”
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.
The anticancer research for CLA and humans will hopefully continue because it looks very promising so far.
2. Helps Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Research indicates that an herbivore diet for livestock is linked to human health and can protect meat from protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation that’s linked to inflammation and heart disease. This is in large part due to the phytochemicals that are present in a grass-fed diet.
The main reasons why grass-fed beef can benefit heart health include:
- Less overall fat and unhealthy fat
- Lower levels of dietary cholesterol
- Higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- More CLA
- More heart disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin E
When you take into account this impressive nutrition content, you can easily understand why eating grass-fed beef burgers and sirloins instead of conventional options can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Read more 11 Greek Yogurt Benefits, Nutrition Profile, & How To Make It
3. Can Improve Blood Sugar
Getting enough healthy fats in your diet is extremely helpful to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Research published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2016 looked at the effects of the healthy fat CLA on insulin sensitivity in obese children.
The randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study found that 37 percent of the patients treated with CLA exhibited improvements in insulin sensitivity. In addition, muscle biopsies of the subjects treated with CLA showed an upregulation of the protein molecule IRS2 that mediates the effects of insulin on the body.
Clearly, the benefits of grass-fed beef nutrition are not just for adults. These results in children are also meaningful for adults looking to keep their blood sugar under control to ward off diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
4. More Likely to Be Free of Hormones and Antibiotics
Reports show that about 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock like cows, so it’s not crazy to be worried about antibiotics in beef. 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.
With grass-fed cows, weight gain is not as high because they eat a healthier, lower-calorie diet.
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, 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.
Feeding cattle grain makes their intestinal tracts much more acidic, and this promotes the growth of bacteria like E. coli, which can actually kill someone who eats undercooked beef like a rare hamburger. We can thank the commercial meat industry for this kind of scary beef, which is the product of feeding cows grain and keeping them in overcrowded, disease-ridden feed lots.
Antibiotic and hormone use in beef is significantly less likely with grass-fed versus grain-fed. If meat is organic and grass-fed, then the animal was not given antibiotics or hormones because organic cattle are fed organic feed and are not given antibiotics or hormones.
For grass-fed cattle, antibiotics are typically not given, which is very different form the consistent and common use of antibiotics on feed-lot, grain-fed cows.
5. The Safer Beef Option
Research conducted in 2015 by Consumer Reports is the biggest study to date demonstrating that choosing grass-fed meat over conventional meat decreases your risk of food poisoning and results in fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The researchers tested for the presence and variety of bacteria in 300 samples of ground beef from 103 grocery, big-box and natural food stores in 26 cities across the country.
Consumer Reports notes that:
6. Better for the Environment
Grass-fed beef nutrition leads to many benefits to your personal health, but there’s more. Not only is grass-fed beef better for your health than grain-fed, but it’s also better for the environment.
Many people avoid beef and meat entirely because of environmental concerns.
When it comes to grass-fed beef, there is some very good news. Research now shows that traditional grass-based beef production and finishing actually benefit the environment by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing biodiversity of pasture ecosystems and improving quality of run-off water from well-managed pastures.
Overall, grass-fed beef has actually been shown to reduce the carbon footprint and help the environment rather than hurt it.
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.
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.
Meat from 100 percent grass-fed cows is loaded with even more nutrition than what you get from a grain-fed cow. All that grazing of grass and roughage rather than being on a diet of processed foods really goes a long way.
For example, one lean grass-fed strip steak (approximately 214 grams) contains about:
- 250 calories
- 49.4 grams protein
- 5.8 grams fat
- 14.3 milligrams niacin (72 percent DV)
- 1.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (70 percent DV)
- 45.1 micrograms selenium (64 percent DV)
- 7.7 milligrams zinc (52 percent DV)
- 454 milligrams phosphorus (45 percent DV)
- 2.7 micrograms vitamin B12 (45 percent DV)
- 4 milligrams iron (22 percent DV)
- 732 milligrams potassium (21 percent DV)
- 1.5 milligrams pantothenic acid (15 percent DV)
- 49.2 milligrams magnesium (12 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamin (7 percent DV)
- 27.8 micrograms folate (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (7 percent DV)
Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Beef
The major difference between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef is the diet of the cows. One set eats mostly grass, while the other eats mostly grain or an unnatural diet that’s based on corn and soy.
Livestock diet can greatly impact the nutrient composition. This means that consuming grass-fed beef provides more nutrients, especially healthy fats, than eating grain-fed beef.
Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition indicates that compared to concentrate-fed animals, grass-fed animals provide greater concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Grass-fed beef can contain up to five times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef.
Read more What Are the 10 Health Benefits of Drinking Milk?
Grass-fed burgers and steaks also contain twice as much CLA than conventionally raised beef.
Related: 6 Reasons to Try Bison Meat Now (It’s Lean!)
How to Add to Diet
Grass-fed beef does typically cost more per pound, but it’s certainly worth the slightly higher price tag. Most grocery stores now offer an organic section that carries at least one, if not a few, grass-fed beef options.
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 the American 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.
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. 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. 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.
Are you ready to start cooking and take in all of that grass-fed beef nutrition and health benefits? Try these grass-fed beef recipes that are both healthy and delicious:
- Pho Recipe
- Winter Beef Stew Recipe
- Stuffed Peppers with Rice Recipe
- Seared Grass-Fed Steak
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.
Risks and Side Effects
With grass-fed beef, you can obtain all that awesome grass-fed beef nutrition with a lower likelihood of dangerous diseases. However, it’s important that you handle and cook your beef appropriately to avoid any food-borne illness.
To be on the safe side, the USDA recommends cooking hamburgers and ground beef mixtures (like meatloaf) to a food thermometer reading of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 degrees C). For steaks and roasts, the USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F (62.8 degrees C) before you remove the meat from the heat source.
For the sake of safety as well as quality, you should then let the beef rest for a minimum of three minutes before eating it.
- 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.
- 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.
— Update: 16-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Ten Surprising Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef from the website www.leanandtenderbeef.com for the keyword health benefits of grass fed beef.
back to Blog
Vitamins, nutrients, and amazing flavor? These are just a few reasons to try grass-fed beef. Here are 10 reasons you’ll be asking “medium or rare?” tonight.
Look at your burger a little closer. What did the animal you are eating today eat yesterday?
Since there is such a high demand for meat these days, most cows are born and raised in gruesome factory farms. They finish their lives in CAFO’s, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
In these giant warehouses, cows eat grains like soy, wheat, and corn, along with other types of food meant to fatten them up. Believe it or not, these cows eat things such as gummy worms, cereal, and ice cream sprinkles.
Farmers have admitted to this for decades to keep down costs and promote weight gain. As a defense, they claim to cap the cows’ candy intake at around 3%.
Candy is only one of the many unhealthy substances conventional cows come into contact with. Besides crowding together in feces, cows are also given antibiotic and hormone shots to speed up the growth process.
Thankfully, there is an alternative: grass-fed beef from grass-fed cows. Grass-fed cows live their lives in a natural manner, foraging for their food. Since they are not exposed to grain, antibiotics or hormones, their meat is healthier than that of conventionally raised cows.
Read on to find out more about the many benefits of grass-fed beef!
Ten Surprising Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef
Conventionally raised beef comes from cows who spend their lives in crowded conditions, stressed-out and hopped up on medicine. Grass-fed cows offer a safer, healthier alternative that tastes amazing. There are many benefits to switching to meat from grass-fed animals.
Read more 5 Amazing Benefits of a Bilingual Education
1.) Lower in Fat and Calories
Grass-fed beef is up to 2/3 lower in fat and calories than feedlot-raised beef. For example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished cow will have 100 fewer calories than the same steak from an animal that has been grain-fed.
If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to grass-fed beef will save you over 17,000 calories over the course of a full year.
Even if everything else in your diet remains the same you will still, on average, lose about six pounds a year from switching to grass-fed beef.
2.) Antibiotic and Hormone Free
To keep illness at a minimum, feedlot cows have to take massive doses of antibiotics.
When you eat grain fed beef you are consuming these antibiotics.
In addition to antibiotics, conventional meat is also laced with hormones. Hormones, such as RBST, make CAFO cows grow faster. This leads to more profit for factory farmers.
Cows raised in this manner reach full-size up to a year faster than grass-fed cows. Studies show that humans can experience early puberty after consuming animals fed growth hormone for a long period of time.
Of course, our grass-fed animals are always hormone and antibiotic-free!
3.) Tastes Better
Another undeniable benefit of grass-fed meat is that it tastes better. Grass-fed meat has a subtle, earthy flavor, attributable to the varied diet of the cows. The cow’s clean diet allows spices to come through clearer. The addition of a little butter makes a grass-fed steak taste amazing!
The HuffPost conducted a blind taste test, and 100% of the tasters could tell the difference between the grass-fed and grain-fed beef. All but one preferred the flavor of the grass-fed beef.
Our beef comes from Criollo cows who are naturally lean and tender. In DNA testing, they have 4 out of 6 genetic markers for tenderness, right up there with the best certified Angus beef.
4.) Higher in Healthy Fats
One of the most notable benefits of grass-fed beef is that it has an ideal ratio of omegas. Meat from grass-fed animals has 2 to 4 times more omega-3 fatty acid then meat from grain fed animals.
Grass-fed beef has an omega 6:3 ratio of 0.16 to 1, while grain-fed beef can often have an omega 6:3 ratio higher than 20:1.
5.) Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
Omega-3’s are good fat because they play a vital role in every cell in every system in your body. Of all the fats, omega-3’s are the most heart-friendly.
People who have enough omega-3’s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or heart problems. They’re also 50% less likely to suffer a heart attack.
Omega-3’s are essential for your brain to operate at optimal levels as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3’s are less likely to suffer from depression schizophrenia, ADD and Alzheimer’s disease.
6.) Helps Fight Cancer
Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA. Beef products raised on grass and forage alone, contain from 3 to 5 times more CLA than those raised conventionally.
CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA reduced tumor growth.
7.) Less Contamination By Staph and Other Bacteria
It’s said that almost half of the US is meat and poultry contains the staph bacteria.
The constant feeding of antibiotics to feedlot cattle plays a large role in the spreading of staph, e-Coli and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In one study, 47% of meat and poultry examined contained S. aureus. More than half of those bacteria, 52%, were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics.
This was the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus in the U.S. food supply. DNA testing suggested that the major source of contamination were the food animals themselves.
8.) More Vitamins and Minerals
Grass fed beef is one of the most nutrient dense proteins on earth. It has a high micronutrient profile, much higher than grain fed beef.
It is higher in B vitamins, vitamin D, and iron because of the varied diets of grass-fed cows.
If you have ever eaten grass-fed beef, you may have noticed the yellowish tint of the fat from grass-fed meat after it cooks. This indicates the presence of Carotenoids which are abundant in grass, especially quick growing green grass.
9.) Better for the Environment
In addition to the health benefits of grass-fed meat, it is also easier on the environment.
Cows raised in pastures use fewer fossil fuels than cows packed into feedlots. When they are grass fed, cows maintain and fertilize the land they graze on themselves. This leads to the increased biodiversity of pasture ecosystems and improved quality of run-off water.
10.) Peace of Mind
Knowing that the food you are putting in yours and your children’s bodies is free from antibiotics, hormones and other harmful substances is priceless.
We pride ourselves in giving you that peace of mind.
Our cows are never given antibiotics, hormones, or crowded into dirty feedlots. They grow at a natural rate (24-48 mos) and to full size before harvesting. They are then dry-aged to perfection for 12-14 days before we ship them out to you!
Make the Change Today!
Switching to grass-fed beef can revitalize your health. With fewer calories and more good fats than conventional, grass-fed beef can be an integral part of your healthy diet.
Visit us today and get started reaping the many benefits of grass-fed meat! Check out our steaks for amazing quality meat at a great price.