To examine the health benefits of grass-fed beef we need to look at fats first. Our dietary fats are a mixture of saturated and unsaturated, including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, fats. Omega-3 and -6 are polyunsaturated fats and we can’t make these fats ourselves, we have to eat them.
Fats are vital in our cell walls, nervous tissue and many other structures and functions. Scientists have found that if the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is more than 4:1, people start to experience health problems like arthritis, coronary heart disease and inflammatory ailments.
The shocking news is that intensively-reared beef has omega-6 to omega-3 ratios of 20:1 or even more. With grass-fed beef it’s more like 3:1.
While modern farming gives us plenty of food, it’s not always of good enough quality to maintain long-term health and we’re missing out on omega-3.
Many studies have shown the same results – that grass-fed beef yields omega-6 to omega-3 ratios of 4:1 and often lower, whereas intensively-reared beef offers a shocking 20:1 (or higher) ratio.
It also seems that the longer the cows are kept on their grain-feeding schedule, the worse the ratios get and many cattle are grain-fed for 200 days or longer. It doesn’t take much to work out how much better for health grass-fed beef is.
In addition to the omega ratios, grass-fed beef is slow-grown, without hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. Grain-fed cows are routinely given antibiotics towards the end of their lives to promote further growth.
Additionally, the fat content of grain-fed beef features just 1% omega-3, whereas grass-fed beef fat is 7% omega-3 (in a ratio of between 3:1 and 4:1). Grass-fed beef is also leaner because the cow has been more active and has had no hormone treatments.
Grazing on grass means that the beef is full of minerals and vitamins, as well as conjugated linoleic acid, which reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity and several immune disorders.
Grass-fed beef – what’s not to love?