Scientific evidence is accumulating that grass-fed beef is significantly healthier than grain-feed beef. Compared with feedlot meat, research shows that grass-fed beef has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Recent studies suggest that omega-3s and CLA can be important defenses against cancer.
Grass-fed beef tends to be much lower in total fat than grain-feed beef. A sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has about one-half to one-third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed steer. Although grass-fed beef is low in “bad” fat (including saturated fat), it contains from two to six times more of the “good” fat called “omega-3 fatty acids”. (Sixty percent of the fat content of grass is an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (LNA)). People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat, and are 50 percent less likely to have a serious heart attack.1
Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for your brain. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to be afflicted with depression, schizophrenia, ADD or Alzheimer’s disease.2
Omega-3s may also reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies these fatty acids have slowed the growth of a wide variety of cancers and kept them from spreading.3 Researchers have shown that omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies advanced cancer in humans.4 They can also hasten recovery from cancer surgery.5
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2. Simopoulos and Robinson, The Omega Diet, published by HarperCollins, 1999.)
3. 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: 587-93.
4. Tisdale, J. J. (1999) “Wasting in Cancer.” Jr Nutr. 129(1S Suppl.): 243S-246S
5. Tashiro, T., H. Yamamori, et al, (1998), “:n-3 vs. n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in critical illness.” Nutrition 1
6. Duckett S. K, et al, Journal of Animal Science, (published online) June 2009, “Effects of winter stock growth rate and finishing system on: III. Tissue proximate, fatty acid, vitamin and cholesterol content.”
7. Miller, G. J.,”Lipids in Wild Ruminant Animals and Steers.” J. of Food Quality, 9:331-343, 1986.)
8. Davidson, M. H.,Hunninghake, D., et al. (1999) “Comparison of the effects of lean red meat vs. lean white meaton serum lipid evels among free-living persons with hypercholesterolemia: a long-term randomized clinical trial”, Arch. Intern. Med, 159(12)
9. Z, Wu, L.D., Satter, and M.W. Pariza, “Paddocks containing red clover compared with all grass paddocks support high CLA levels in milk.” US Dairy Forage Research Center.
10. A. Aro et al,
11. Bougnoux, P, Lavillonniere F, Riboli E. “Inverse relation between CLA in adipose breast tissue and risk of breast cancer. A case-control study in France.” Inform 10;5:S43, 1999
12. Bougnoux, P., E. Germain et al (1999)” Cytotoxic drugs efficacy correlates with adipose tissue docosahexaenoic acid level in locally advanced breast carcinoma”, Br. J. Cancer, 79(11-12) 1765-9
13. Smith, G. C., “Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets”, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171