May 7th, 2014 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on A Better Beef
Did you know that tree-quarters of our nutrition comes from wheat, rice and corn – all of which are grasses? But what we humans actually eat are only the seeds. Perennial grasses, which are very common, pack a large proportion of their energy into their roots, stems and leaves, and the building block that holds this energy is cellulose. We humans cannot convert cellulose into protein, but cows, sheep and other ruminants can – they are able to acquire nutrients from grasses by fermenting it in a compartment of their stomachs prior to digestion. Grass-fed beef (such as our own Grateful Harvest brand) comes from animals that eat perennial grasses only, and it is becoming increasingly more popular – and for good reason. The biggest health advantage that comes from eating 100% grass-fed beef is that it has a higher quality of fat and less of it. Grass-fed beef contains increased amounts of healthy omega-3 fats and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). There are other health advantages to grass-fed beef as well:
• More Carotenoids – beta-carotene and lutein. Compared to grains, grasses contain a much higher content of important disease-fighting phytonutrients, like carotenoids. Grass-fed cows incorporate significantly higher amounts of two important carotenoids – beta-carotene and lutein – into their muscle tissue as compared to grain-fed animals. Beta-carotene concentrations, for example, are 7 times higher in grass fed beef.
• More Vitamin E – Grass fed beef has an average of three times more vitamin E than grain-fed beef. Vitamin E is considered an important antioxidant for defense against cancer, heart health, and vision.
• More B Vitamins – Concentrations of energy-producing B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 have all been found to be higher in grass-fed compared to grain-fed beef.
• Less Total Fat – A grass-fed strip steak trimmed of all external fat contains an average of 2.8% total fat compared to 4.4% total fat in the same conventional cut trimmed of external fat. That’s over one and a half times as much total fat in the conventional steak.
• More Omega-3’s – Alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Grass-fed beef contains considerably higher levels of ALA, the same essential fatty acid found in flax, as well as EPA and DHA, the same omega-3’s found in oily fish. These three essential fatty acids are absolutely necessary for good health, especially for cardiovascular and brain health.
• More Favorable Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio – To prevent excessive inflammation in the body, a healthy diet should contain only about 1 to 4 times as much omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3 fatty acids. The standard American diet, however, contains 11 to 30 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. The average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of grass fed beef is quite healthy at 1.53, while the grain fed ratio comes in at a whopping 7.65!
• More Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – Grass-fed beef contains two to three times more CLA than what is found in non-grass-fed beef. CLA is a unique fatty acid associated with possible health promoting effects in obesity, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation, and various types of cancer, especially breast cancer.
Grass-fed beef is typically more expensive, but is actually a better value. Feedlot beef is not actually cheaper, although the initial impact at the cash register may feel that way. When you add in the hidden costs of antibiotic resistance, environmental degradation, heart disease, E. coli infection, corn subsidies, imported oil and so on – it’s an inaccurate conclusion to see grain fed beef as less expensive. Grass-fed beef is more nutrient dense than grain-fed, so you’re getting more nutritional and environmental bang for your buck . . . and that’s a far better measure of value!