Grass-fed beef is better for human health than grain-fed beef in ten different ways according to the 2009 study by the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. Compared with grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef was found to be:
2. Higher in beta-carotene
3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
6. Higher in total omega-3s
7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease
This all sound great, “but what does it all mean?”-we hear you say.
If, like us (back in the day when we were just starting out) you aren’t too familiar with the above lingo or what it means, then read on. We’ve decided to explain it in easier terms, so you really know why using grass-fed beef in your diet makes more sense.
Just to keep things interesting- and to keep you coming back for more- we are going to split this particular article over the next few weeks, so not to bombard you with too much info at once. So here goes……..
1. Lower in fat
Being lower in fat is pretty self-explanatory; fat has about twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins, fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood (a high cholesterol level is a leading risk factor for heart disease) and fatty foods tend to have less vitamins and minerals in.
In essence, fattier foods can contribute to heart disease and excess body weight, which in turn may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and blood vessels) and certain forms of cancer.
Our grass-fed beef is much leaner than grain-fed beef, and can have up to 1/3 less fat. Furthermore, lower fat means lower calories!
2. Higher in Beta-Carotene
Simply put, Β-Carotene is a strongly-coloured red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is a fat-soluble antioxidant which is converted to vitamin A (retinol) by the body. Grass-fed animals have a higher level of B-Carotene due to their diet.
B-carotene is believed to have antioxidant properties in addition to its provitamin A function. Vitamin A is a critical fat-soluble vitamin that is important for normal vision, bone growth and reproduction, to name but a few. Specifically, it is responsible for maintaining the surface lining of the eyes as well as the lining of the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts.
While excessive amounts of vitamin A in supplement form can be toxic, the body will only convert as much vitamin A from B-Carotene as it needs, thus B-carotene is a safe dietary source for vitamin A supplementation.
Although beef is not a major source of beta-carotene, grass-fed beef supplies two times the B-Carotene of conventional beef. A typical 3 ounce (oz.) serving would provide 10% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for beta-carotene for women as compared to 5 % supplied by conventional beef.
3. Higher in Vitamin E (Alpha tocopherol)
Alpha-tocopherol is the only form of vitamin E that is actively maintained in the human body; therefore, it is the form of vitamin E found in the largest quantities in blood and tissues. A Vitamin E deficiency can cause anaemia and even neurological problems due to poor nerve conduction.
The main function of alpha-tocopherol in humans is to be an antioxidant (i.e. act as the countermeasure against the oxidants- they deactivate the oxidants before they manage to cause any harm to our body).
When we breathe in oxygen, some of that oxygen deteriorates into free-radicals, which are formed primarily in the body during normal metabolism and also upon exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or pollutants. Free-radicals are corrosive and attack out body and cells. In basic terms, alpha-tocopherol, essentially, prevents free-radicals from destroying our bodies/cells.
Next week, we focus on B-vitamins, Omega-3 and the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium.