The Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

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October 12, 2011 Maybe you have heard about the value of grass-fed beef. Beef that comes from grass-fed or pastured animals is chock full of health benefits. 100% grass-fed beef is fed on grasses, sometimes hay and alfalfa, and what is called “forage”, or the wild plant life that you would find out in a pastured field. This means that all the nutrients and minerals found in the soil and in pastured land gets consumed by the cattle and end up in the meat that you eventually eat. Recently, Body Ecology had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Lowell Novy of Novy Ranches and Jordan Rubin from Beyond Organic. Both Dr. Novy and Jordan Rubin are experts in the field of raising premium, 100% grass-fed beef. They explained to us exactly why grass-fed is so valuable: because it’s better for the environment, it’s better for the body, and it’s better for your family and friends. You Are What You Eat This means that what you put into your body becomes the building material for new cells and the energy to fuel this process. When we eat foods that make sense to our bodies, everything runs smoothly. While there are many theories floating around about exactly which foods are best for optimal health, looking toward traditional food and traditional food preparation is a good place to begin. Traditional foods have nourished the human body for generations, long before the advent of modern food processing. Modern disease is just that: a product of modern times. Food additives, preservatives, flavorings, coloring, and other taste gimmicks all add up in the body. Many current, widespread degenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, and learning disorders can all be traced back to the food that we eat. Are you eating grass-fed beef? Grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation and reduce the risk of type II diabetes, thyroid disorders, and obesity. Cattle too are what they eat. If cattle eat a diet that they are not meant to consume, they become unhealthy. If you’re willing to buy beef from an animal that has been fed chemically treated corn because you think it’s the same stuff that comes from 100% pasture-raised cattle, think again. These two products are drastically different. After eating grass-fed beef, you can literally feel the difference in your own body. One of the most remarkable benefits of grass-fed beef is its high omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile. While many of us have heard that cold-water fish are an especially good source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, few of us know that when raised naturally and on pastured land, beef has its own healthy fats to boast about. These are: A healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. A special fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Almost everyone needs that extra omega-3 boost because too many of us consume hidden omega-6 fats, which, in excess, are pro-inflammatory. Since inflammation plays a significant role in many degenerative diseases, this is certainly something you would want to avoid! Excessive dietary omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to: Contribute to inflammation. (1) Contribute to type II diabetes. (2) Lead to insulin resistance. (3) Interfere with thyroid function. (4) Program “obese genes” that persist over four generations. (5) Contrary to what we know about omega-6 fatty acids, most food sold in markets, even organic food, contains vegetable and seed oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Grain-fed beef has a high pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid profile. And 100% grass-fed beef? Its healthy omega-3 fatty acid profile rivals that of some fish. In order to get these fats, however, you need cuts of meat that have an exterior layer of fat. You can also find omega-3 fats in other nutrient-dense parts of the animal, such as the liver and bone marrow. Another important fatty acid that is found abundantly in grass-fed beef is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is unique and sought-after because it is a nutrient that can tone up and slim down the waistline. You read that right: CLA is a fat that helps you lose fat! Some studies even show that CLA can suppress tumor growth. (6) Grass-fed beef also has other nutrients like the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E and the amino acids L-carnitine and carnosine. You may have already heard about the antioxidant value of vitamin E. But why are antioxidants important? Antioxidants are known for their ability to protect the body against free radical damage, or what is otherwise known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress leads to the degeneration of tissue, aging, and the inflammatory response. A little oxidative stress is normal. A lot of oxidative stress can become a burden and wear the body down. Like vitamin E, carnosine has antioxidant value. It also is an amino acid. It turns out that carnosine inhibits proteins from cross-linking up to sugars. This cross-linking action actually accelerates the aging process, both within and without! For example, this can show up in the skin as wrinkles or in the veins as brittle vasculature. For this reason, carnosine is particularly popular among those interested in anti-aging therapies. Because carnosine is concentrated in brain and muscle tissue, the best place to find it is in meat. Carnosine is especially abundant in grass-fed meat. L-carnitine is another amino acid that even as an isolated dietary supplement is popular for its ability to keep the body youthful. L-carnitine encourages the body to breakdown fat as an energy source. This means that it can have a slimming effect if used correctly in whole food form. Like carnosine, L-carnitine has a significant antioxidant effect in the body. Rather than protecting proteins, however, L-carnitine protects fats from oxidation. If you do not already have a reliable source for 100% grass-fed beef, look into Novy Ranches and Beyond Organic. Dr. Novy, a veterinarian practicing in Southern California, also spends part of his time managing Novy Ranches. Novy Ranches runs through Shasta Valley in Northern California and is located on extremely rich soil. Remember, what goes into the forage and grass also goes into the cattle. Dr. Novy has a personal commitment to the environment, animal protection, wildlife conservation, and to the health of the human body. In the food industry, this kind of foresight is revolutionary, as all elements of health and wellbeing are interrelated. As Dr. Novy tells us, “The cattle actually own the ranch. We’re just there taking care of them. We do the very best we can.” You can find Dr. Novy’s 100% pasture-raised beef online at www.novyranches.com. If you are in Southern California, Novy Ranches beef is available at 14 farmer’s markets in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. They will also ship cuts to you. Or, you can also visit their store located in Simi Valley. Beyond Organic encompasses 9,000 acres of certified organic land that has been designed to foster truly healing foods. One food that founder Jordan Rubin features is 100% grass-fed beef, raised on pastures in southern Missouri and north Georgia. Jordan went through a healing journey himself 15 years ago after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. After being in and out of hospitals for 2 years and in a wheelchair, at the age of 20 Jordan discovered how to use traditional foods like pasture-raised meats and fermented dairy in order to heal his gut, repair his immune system, and restore his energy. His new company, Beyond Organic, grew from the realization that food can either damage or repair the body. Shopping Tips: Beef that is grass-fed and grain-finished is common. Green-finished means that the cattle is not grain-finished and has remained on pasture 90-120 days before harvest. According to Jordan Rubin, these final 30 days are the most significant in determining the nutrient value of an animal. The distinction between grain-finished and green-finished is sometimes not made, so it is important to ask. The label “organic” does not mean that the animal was grass-fed. When shopping for grass-fed meats, be sure and locate 100% grass-fed beef.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
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I personally like the taste of grass-fed beef better. It was noticeable to the wife and I once when we got some grass fed ground beef that we made into burgers.
 
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Colorado Springs
Originally Posted By: d00df00d
Need a link to the article you copied and pasted, as well as a list of the citations.
Why? I'd think it would be common sense that eating the meat from an animal that itself eats natural grasses and is free to roam, would be healthier then eating meat from an animal that eats genetically modified, pesticide laden corn. I get grass fed beef fairly cheap from Calicrate beef company here and I do regularly. It absolutely tastes better, the texture is better, it digests better etc.
 
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Oh, I'm not doubting that part at all. It's just bad form to copy-paste an article with no acknowledgement of the source and with citations missing.
 

RW1

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JBLM, WA
I'm a big fan of grass fed beef too. One other option is to check with local farms/ranches to see if they sell grass fed beef. I buy mine from a nearby farm and they will actually designate which animal. We can go down and check on the animals progress until its time to butcher it. The only downside with this method is that you have to contract out for the whole animal. But splitting it four ways is not hard if you have three friends that like beef and have chest freezers. No, I don't think of "Bessie" as a pet. I just see a walking steak, roast, and burgers. Cost-wise, even with butchering costs factored in, I'm still paying less than I do in the stores. It comes from the butcher flash frozen and I vacuum seal a majority of it to help it last. Even my daughters have noticed the different, cleaner taste and raid my freezer everytime they visit.
 
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Its just hard to find around here! I went to a butcher shop that had it once and it was twice as expensive as their other prime ribeyes. I still want to try it though!
 
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'Stralia
This is the issue when we start comparing our grandparent's diets versus modern mass produced stuff. The nutrition that a lot of our food "rules" were based on was what the foods originally were. Heirloom tomatoes are a meal on their own, while modern store bought are semi ripe sacks of water...there has obviously got to be a difference in what either of these tomatoes gives you, but they are treated the same by TPTB. Beef, raised on grass has a really good ration of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Throw it in a feed lot for a couple of weeks to "finish" it on corn, and it gets screwed up royally. And feedlotting is where the greenies get their leverage on water consumption, food efficiency, and healthy eating to demonise meat eating. When the sole purpose of farmed meat historically has been to turn that which is abundant but we can't eat into that which we can with the minimum of inputs.
 

Scoot_4_20

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Originally Posted By: JHZR2
I personally like the taste of grass-fed beef better. It was noticeable to the wife and I once when we got some grass fed ground beef that we made into burgers.
I do too. The ground GFB I get here in East TN is the best I've ever tasted. Has a very unique flavor and melts in your mouth if you lightly broil it on each side. I love it with organic potatoes and cultured butter, with other vegetables.
 
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If it was truly grass fed it will have a wild game taste, very much like the taste of venison. Also you also eat corn in basically everything you eat. It gets to be the dilemma of producing 200bu/ac corn with GMO or produce 100bu/ac non-GMO. Its a lot more complex than most people think, cut that gmo corn and were hurting for corn a lot.
 
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I eat a lot of beef and I would love to eat only grass fed beef with no hormones or anti-biotics given. I think the hormones and antibiotics are as harmful or more than the non-grass based diet the cattle are given. The problem is it is very hard to find and expensive. I'm using organic milk and butter now. I'd like to go with organic cheese too. But like grass fed beef, it is inconviebient to buy and more expensive.
 
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I did a lot of research on CLA several years ago and was convinced of it's benefits. I took a CLA supplement when I finally decided to drop some weight. I ended losing about 65 pounds and attributed it partly to the CLA supplement. I was also on a low fat, low (1000 calorie) diet, so the CLA may have been had a placebo effect. I wish I knew of a local source for grass fed beef. It's funny how over the last several years almost all beef is now "Angus", yet doesn't look or taste any different than before that became all the rage...
 
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Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: volk06
If it was truly grass fed it will have a wild game taste, very much like the taste of venison. Also you also eat corn in basically everything you eat. It gets to be the dilemma of producing 200bu/ac corn with GMO or produce 100bu/ac non-GMO. Its a lot more complex than most people think, cut that gmo corn and were hurting for corn a lot.
Have a read of a book called "Steak" http://steakthebook.com/welcome/ I like meat and I found its a good read and it has lots of anecdotes on different ways to raise beef. As for the corn issue, other than the feed for my animals, we don't eat much corn at all. Its pretty easy to do, just buy quality food. Corn in its many chemically processed forms is usually just a cheap substitute for the real ingredient. I know its blasphemy to say so in the corn belt, but in reality we don't need any more corn than we produced in the early 70's before the ethanol fiasco and chemical corn processing. Sure without mountains of cheap corn, the 100,000 head feedlot would dissapear but there's nothing bad about that.
 
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The 'Body Ecology' website pretty much looks like a 'Big Hippie' propagandized approach to sell products. Lot's of conjecture, fear, and non-scientific validations. Just my opinion. But I do like beef....grain, grass, or whatever.
 
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'Stralia
Originally Posted By: IndyIan
Have a read of a book called "Steak" http://steakthebook.com/welcome/ I like meat and I found its a good read and it has lots of anecdotes on different ways to raise beef. As for the corn issue, other than the feed for my animals, we don't eat much corn at all. Its pretty easy to do, just buy quality food. Corn in its many chemically processed forms is usually just a cheap substitute for the real ingredient. I know its blasphemy to say so in the corn belt, but in reality we don't need any more corn than we produced in the early 70's before the ethanol fiasco and chemical corn processing. Sure without mountains of cheap corn, the 100,000 head feedlot would dissapear but there's nothing bad about that.
Saw a propoganda piece by the Oz beef industry the other day, touting the health benefits of what appeared to be grass reared beef (high Omega 3s), then the statement that if feedlots were banned, and the equivalent calories required from vegetarian foods (can we eat strawmen ?), we would need the equivalent of two states cleared for agriculture. Made it look like feedlots were recieving manna from heaven to feed the cattle.
 
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