By: Kennedy Shelley
You might have noticed more grass-fed beef for sale. It has become sort of a thing for those friends of yours who like to talk about Keto diets and such.
Is it a big deal or just a marketing gimmick? Well it depends on who you talk to, but there is a reason why people want grass-fed.
If you get regular beef, odds are it is from a cow who spent a good hunk of its life at a feedlot and was fed grain (primarily corn or soy). While some might find this inhumane treatment of the cows, we will focus on the health issues.
This may seem like a strange thing to do. Why pay for feed, when cows will walk around and eat grass for free?
Well, the feedlot and paying for grain actually works better at fattening up the cow quicker than having them wander and eat grass.
And add to this, commercial beef has figured out that high levels of antibiotics and hormones also tend to make the cows get bigger faster.
Does this affect the nutritional values of the meat? It does in several ways.
Grass-fed beef is lower in calories. If you are what you eat, then the same applies to cows.
A good hunk of the extra calories comes from fat, which is higher in calories than the lean tissue.
Some do not like grass-fed beef because it contains less flavorful fat.
There are different types of fat and some are better for your health than others.
Omega 3 fatty acids are nearly twice as high in grass-fed cows than grain-fed cows.
This can make a significant difference in eye and brain health. If you are concerned about becoming a diabetic, then Omega 3 fatty acids are what you want more of.
And this is the major difference in the fat content of grass-fed beef versus grain-fed.
Some people prefer the taste of the fat of grass-fed and some grain-fed. Since this is where most of the flavor comes from this can be a major factor to be considered.
While all beef contains high quantities of vitamins B3, B6 and B12, there are a couple of antioxidant vitamins that are much higher in grass-fed, particularly vitamins A and E.
GRASS-FED vs. GRASS-FINISHED
Beware that if you are convinced that grass-fed is better, you want to look for “grass-finished” too. There are some beef producers who will allow their cows to graze but will put them in a feedlot and feed them corn and grains before they go to slaughterhouse to fatten them up.
Since cows are sold by the pound, the extra fat helps the farmers’ bottom line. And some people prefer the taste of the extra fat.
There is not any clear data on the nutritional differences between grass and grain-finished.
While some may stay away from feedlot beef because they think it’s cruel to the cows, there is very little nutritional difference between grass-fed and feedlot beef.
Both are highly nutritious and full of protein and vital vitamins and minerals.
While there is no real hard evidence that added hormones and antibiotics harm humans, there are those who are concerned about it in their food.
But you can get no hormone or antibiotic beef that is not grass-fed.
So now that you understand the difference, go out and grill a steak for dinner.