Health Benefits of All Natural 100% Grass Fed Beef
The Omegas 3 and 6
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids often have opposing physiological functions (and evidence is emerging that their ratio in the diet may be an important factor in human health).1
Courtesy of The Beef Checkoff
Omega-3 fatty acids are produced by living green plant leaves. Omega-3's are important to the healthy function of the brain2, (people are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, or Alzheimer's disease) in fact they play a role in every cell and system in the body. Known as one of the "good fats" it has been linked to lowering blood pressure, reducing heart attacks, fighting depression and reducing cancer.3 It is estimated that only 40% of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids.4
Omega-6-fatty acids are found in seed heads of plants (grains) and vegetable oils. A diet too rich in these Omega 6's has been linked to obesity, diabetes, immune system disorders and cancer.5 In order to function well our bodies require a balance between these two fatty acids. Ideally 1:1 is the best. For many people a diet high in grains and vegetable oils (corn, peanut, safflower, soy, and walnut) has destroyed that balance. Omega -6 fatty acids are vital for human health, they just need to be present in the correct ratio. At present omega-6 fatty acids provide about 85% of American's energy intake from polyunsaturated fatty acids.6
Grass Fed Beef is three times higher in omega-3 fatty acids than grain fed beef, making the fatty acid ratio in Grass Fed ideal for what our bodies require. The grass fed/ grass finished beef will have omega 6:3 ratios of 2:1 or less while beef finished for a few weeks on grain will have omega 6:3 ratios of somewhere around 10:1. Feedlot beef has omega 6:3 ratios of over 20:1.7 This is a huge difference.
CLA- Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Vitamin E
The primary source of CLA in our diets come from ruminant animals. Some is found in fish products, but is negligible compared to beef and dairy products. Grass Fed Beef contains five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and five times more Vitamin E than grain fed beef.8 CLA can help prevent cancer and also reduce cancer-cell growth. Grass fed beef is higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA).12 Vitamin E helps form red blood cells and is a powerful antioxidant that protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble body tissues. Vitamin E also aids in the prevention of heart disease and cancer.9
Omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene (converted in our bodies to Vitamin A), CLA and Vitamin E are all produced in living green plant tissues and are stored in the cow's meat and fat in forms that our bodies can easily digest. When a cow's diet is supplemented with grain while on pasture, the benefits of the grass-fed diet will be lost and the omega-6 fatty acid content will be raised.
Beta-carotene is 4 times higher in grass fed pasture based beef! It is converted in our bodies to Vitamin A. Our bodies only convert enough Vitamin A to meet its demands, therefore there is no fear of Vitamin A toxicity. Chico State explains further.
Grass Fed Versus Grain Fed Differences
One of the main reasons animals are fed large amounts of grain is that they grow fatter faster. Grain is a more concentrated form of energy than grass and provides more starch and calories. The net result of a high grain diet is fattier beef. Grass Fed Beef is four to six times lower in fat than grain fed beef and contains only half the saturated fat, making it as lean as poultry and wild game.10
The reduced-fat content also makes it significantly lower in calories than grain-fed beef. A six ounce beef loin from a Grass Fed cow may have 92 fewer calories than a six ounce loin from a grain fed cow.11
Grass fed beef is higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Visit the Chico State website for a more in-depth reference to the health benefits of grass fed beef.
- Simopoulos, A. P. "The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids." Biomed Pharmacother 56, no. 8 (2002): 365-79.
- Kalmijn, S., E. J. Feskens, L. J. Launer, and D. Kromhout. "Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Antioxidants, and Cognitive Function in Very Old Men." Am J Epidemiol 145, no. 1 (1997): 33-41
- Simopolous, A. P. and Jo Robinson (1999). The Omega Diet. New York, HarperCollins.
Bagga, D., K. H. Anders, H. J. Wang, and J. A. Glaspy. "Long-Chain omega-3 to omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Ratios in Breast Adipose Tissue from Women with and without Breast Cancer." Nutr Cancer 42, no. 2 (2002): 180-5.
(Kalmijn et al., 1997a; Kalmijn et al., 1997b; Yehuda et al., 1996; Hibbeln, 1998; Hibbeln et al., 1995; Stoll et al., 1999; Calabrese et al., 1999; Laugharne et al., 1996).
- Dolecek, T. A. and G. Grandits (1991). "Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Mortality in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT)." World Rev Nutr Diet 66: 205-16
- Rose, D. P., J. M. Connolly, et al. (1995). "Influence of Diets Containing Eicosapentaenoic or Docasahexaenoic Acid on Growth and Metastasis of Breast Cancer Cells in Nude Mice." Journal of the National Cancer Institute 87(8): 587-92
- reference to 85% energy intake
- Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, L. D. Yates, H. G. Dolezal, and S. G. May. "Effects of Time on Feed on Beef Nutrient Composition." J Anim Sci 71, no. 8 (1993): 2079-88
- CLA claim
- (Lonn and Yusuf, 1997; Jialal and Fuller, 1995; Stampfer et al., 1993; Knekt et al., 1994).
- Williams, J.E., D.G. Wagner, L.E. Walters, G.W. Horn, G.R. Waller, P.L. Sims And J.J. Guenther. 1983. Effect of production systems on performance, body composition and lipid and mineral profiles of soft tissue in cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 57:1020.
- Siscovick, D. S., T. E. Raghunathan, et al. (1995). "Dietary Intake and Cell Membrane Levels of Long-Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and the Risk of Primary Cardiac Arrest." JAMA 274(17): 1363-1367
- New Study released in June 2009 by S.K. Duckett et al, Journal of Animal Science, (published online) June 2009, Effects of winter stocker growth rate and finishing system on: III. Tissue proximate, fatty acid, vitamin and cholesterol content