"Loved it, good meat." --Vickie S.

Lean Beef Benefits

You’ve heard it countless times: You are what you eat. So it should come as no surprise that what you eat is what it eats, too. For years consumers have been led to believe that meat is meat. In other words, no matter what an animal is fed, its nutritional value remains the same. This could not be further from the truth. An animal's diet can have a profound influence on the nutrient content of its products.

The difference between grain fed and grass fed beef is dramatic.

Grass fed beef is lower in total fat than grain fed beef. For example: a sirloin steak from a grass fed steer has up to 50% less fat than a similar cut from one that was grain fed.

In fact, grass fed beef has about the same amount of fat as skinless chicken.1Meat this lean, actually helps lowers your LDL cholesterol levels.2 Because grass fed beef is so lean, it's lower in calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.

A grass fed 6-ounce steak has nearly 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain fed steer.

If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to grass fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year. If all Americans switched to grass fed beef, our national epidemic of obesity would begin to diminish.

Extra Omega-3s

Although grass fed beef is low in "bad" fat (including saturated fat), it offers two to six times more "good" fat called "Omega-3 fatty acids."

Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most "heart friendly." People who have ample amounts of Omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat and they are 50% less likely to experience a serious heart attack.3

Omega-3s are also essential for your brain. People with a diet rich in Omega-3s are less likely to be afflicted with depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.4

Omega-3s may reduce cancer risk.

In animal studies, these essential fatty acids have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and prevented them from spreading.5 Although similar human research is in its infancy, researchers have shown that Omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies advanced cancer.6They can also speed recovery.7

Furthermore, studies suggest that cancer patients who have high levels of Omega-3s in their tissues may respond better to chemotherapy than those with lower levels.8 Though Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, they are also found in grass fed animal products.

Grass fed beef have more Omega-3s than those which are grain fed because Omega-3s are formed in green plant leaves. 60% of the fat content of grass is a variety of Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic or LNA.

When cattle are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be grain-fattened, they lose their valuable store of LNA as well as two other types of Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Each day an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of Omega-3s is diminished.9

References

1. Fukumoto, G. K., Y.S. Kim, D. Oduda, H. Ako (1995). "Chemical composition and shear force requirement of loin eye muscle of young, forage-fed steers." Research Extension Series 161: 1-5. Koizumi, I., Y. Suzuki, et al. (1991). "Studies on the fatty acid composition of intramuscular lipids of cattle, pigs and birds." J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 37(6): 545-54.

2. Davidson, M. H., D. Hunninghake, et al. (1999). "Comparison of the effects of lean red meat vs lean white meat on serum lipid levels among free-living persons with hypercholesterolemia: a long-term, randomized clinical trial." Arch Intern Med 159(12): 1331-8. The conclusion of this study: "... diets containing primarily lean red meat or lean white meat produced similar reductions in LDL cholesterol and elevations in HDL cholesterol, which were maintained throughout the 36 weeks of treatment."

3. 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.

4. Simopolous, A. P. and Jo Robinson (1999). The Omega Diet. New York, HarperCollins. My previous book, a collaboration with Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos, devotes an entire chapter to the vital role that omega-3s play in brain function.

5. 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.

6. Tisdale, M. J. (1999). "Wasting in cancer." J Nutr 129(1S Suppl): 243S-246S.

7. Tashiro, T., H. Yamamori, et al. (1998). "n-3 versus n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in critical illness." Nutrition 14(6): 551-3.

8. Bougnoux, P., E. Germain, et al. (1999). "Cytotoxic drugs efficacy correlates with adipose tissue docosahexaenoic acid level in locally advanced breast carcinoma [In Process Citation]." Br J Cancer 79(11-12): 1765-9.

9. Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, et al. (1993). "Effects of time on feed on beef nutrient composition." J Anim Sci 71(8): 2079-88.