You exercise, buy fresh fruit, and make sure to eat all your veggies. Yet, have you ever thought about the quality of your beef? Protein is essential in any diet, but not all beef is created equal. There’s debate over the benefits of grass-fed beef over grain-fed. Skeptics believe it’s all a marketing gimmick, but the research doesn’t lie.
To clear out the confusion, let’s look at 9 benefits of grass-fed beef that you probably didn’t know.
- Lower in Calories
In the battle to lose weight, anything you can do to cut calories is a win. That’s especially true if you like to eat beef as a source of protein.
Last year, Americans ate a record amount of meat—about 222 pounds per person. When the typical 6 oz grass-fed steak is 100 calories lower than grain-fed, that equates to a lot of saved calories!
Even if you kept your daily diet the same, switching to grass-fed beef will save you calories over the long run.
- Helps Fight Cancer
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a fatty acid that occurs naturally. Found in meat and dairy, it’s 300-500% higher in animals that are grass-fed.
That’s significant because CLA is one of the strongest nutrients which can fight cancer. It does this by disrupting cancer cell replication. It helps reduce the spread of cancer and may even shrink existing cancer tumors.
Even CLA found in supplements are not the same since it is artificially made. Getting your source from grass-fed beef ensures you get the best natural nutrient at higher levels.
- More Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fatty acid is a healthy fat your body loves. Among its many benefits, it helps to reduce rheumatoid arthritis, fights depression, and helps you focus. Plus, it works to reduce inflammation in the body.
Grass-fed beef has up to six times more omega-3 fatty acid than grain-fed. And even though grain-fed has more omega-6 fatty acid, the average American already eats that in surplus on a standard diet.
- Fewer Bacteria
Cows are herbivores that are only meant to eat grass. When their diets get disrupted by other sources, they develop problems. One of these problems is digestive issues that involve imbalanced bacteria levels.
These grain-fed cows are usually given low doses of antibiotics to combat the bacteria. This causes bacteria repeatedly exposed to antibiotics to become immune, which leaves both bacteria and doses of antibiotics to show up in grain-fed beef.
Grass-fed beef doesn’t have this problem. Since these cows only eat grass, their bodies maintain a healthy level of bacteria with no antibiotics needed.
You can learn more information about bacteria and antibiotics in cows here.
- Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
One of the big benefits of grass-fed beef is that it promotes a healthy heart. It does this with not one benefit, but several!
Remember that CLA which helps fight cancer? It’s also good for the heart. By increasing your consumption of grass-fed beef over grain-fed, you’re further reducing your risk of heart disease.
Grass-fed beef also contains the antioxidants your heart loves. It has less unhealthy fats and higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acid. Plus, it helps lower amounts of bad cholesterol (LDL) which is a marker for heart disease.
- More Vitamins and Minerals
Since grass has a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals over grain or dried hay, it’s no surprise grass-fed beef is higher in these levels as well. It has more vitamin B, vitamin D, iron, vitamin E, and beta-carotene than grain-fed beef.
That makes grass-fed beef one of the most nutrient-dense proteins you can eat. It only makes sense that when the grass-fed cows are better nourished, so are you.
- Better for the Environment
One of the unexpected benefits of grass-fed beef is its positive effect on the environment. Grain needed to feed cows uses fertilizer and pesticides to grow. This grain then gets transported to farms using fossil fuels.
Once at the farms, cows get packed in close together, causing their waste to stay in small areas. It’s hard for this waste to decompose naturally because of their close quarters and grain diet, causing it to seep into the groundwater.
Free-grazing, grass-fed cows don’t need the grain that puts chemicals into the environment. They deposit their waste throughout large areas of the field, letting it decompose without affecting rivers and groundwater.
- Easier to Digest
A lot of people think beef is hard to digest. With upset stomachs and gut troubles, they blame the meat but don’t think about the quality of meat they’re eating.
Food sensitivities to soy and corn will cause these problems to flare. Coincidentally, these are common ingredients in the grain grain-fed cows eat.
Eating grain-fed beef when you have food sensitivities will cause symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, and other digestive issues.
Switching to grass-fed beef will help those with certain sensitivities digest beef easier.
- Peace of Mind
It’s a great feeling to know that you’re feeding your family beef that is free of hormones, antibiotics, and other harmful chemicals. Plus, with all the other health benefits that come with grass-fed beef, you feel good keeping it as part of a healthy diet.
It can also give you peace of mind knowing grass-fed beef is more humane. Cows that are free to graze in open fields have a better life. The close quarters of feedlots make it easier for grain-fed cows to develop health issues and spread infections that lead to more antibiotic use.
When you care about the quality of food you put on your table, it helps to know all the facts. By knowing the benefits of grass-fed beef, you can feel good about adding one more healthy option for your family.
Want to find more ways to have a healthy lifestyle? Check out the articles on our Health and Fitness blog!