You may have heard of the term “grass-fed” before, but what does it truly mean and how does it affect beef? It turns out, that cows raised on a grass-fed diet offer a lot in terms of health benefits and nutrition for humans compared to traditionally-raised beef.
“Grass-fed beef” means that the cows used to provide the meat were fed grass versus grain. Instead of being cooped up in a pen, the animals are allowed to roam more freely in a pasture. As the cows eat the green grass, the nutrients found in the grass pass into the bodies of the cows, affecting the nutritional content of their meat.
What are the implications for cows that have been raised on grass?
- Meat from grass-fed cows contains double the beta-carotene levels than meat from cows that are feed with grain.
- There is more conjugated linoleic acid in grass-fed beef. This is a fatty acid that can help with lowering the risk of a heart attack, improving the inflammatory system, and aiding in the regulation of blood sugar.
- Grass-fed beef is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, though the actual amount can vary significantly.
Other nutrients found in grass-fed beef include:
- Vitamins B3, B6, and B12.
- Pantothenic acid
The World’s Healthiest Foods recognizes that food labels can be confusing, so the consumer needs to know what to look for to make sure they are getting actually grass-fed beef. The site notes that some providers use the term “finished.” This implies that the cows spend their last few months eating grass when previously they had been raised on grain in feedlots.
To make sure you are getting actually grass-fed beef, look for labels from:
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- The American Grassfed Association
- The American Food Alliance
Want to learn more about grass-fed beef? You can read the full article here: Beef, Grass-Fed.