According to a study at California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef nutrition includes significantly more omega-3 fatty acids and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef, one of the best protein foods around, is also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E and cancer-fighting antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef. If you haven’t heard of CLA yet, it’s a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid we must obtain from our diets that’s been shown to help fight cancer, discourage weight gain and build muscle, and high-quality grass-fed beef and butter from healthy, grass-fed cows or other animals are the top sources of CLA.
1. Potential Cancer Fighter
There are actually 16 different types of CLA, each providing a unique and highly important health benefit. CLA has been shown in numerous animal studies since 1994 to promote health and fight disease. From cancer fighting to weight loss, CLA is being touted worldwide as a “must have” in your diet for optimal health today and into tomorrow. Conjugated linoleic acids have been studied for their ability to prevent and treat cancer as well as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
CLA sources have proved their ability as cancer-fighting foods in multiple animal studies. As a study published in the journal Cancer pointed out CLA is unique in the fact that it comes from animal source since the majority of natural, anticancer substances are of plant origin. Additionally, animal-derived CLA’s “anticancer efficacy is expressed at concentrations close to human consumption levels.”
In 2000, a Finnish study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer demonstrated that there may also be anticarcinogenic effects of CLA for humans. In this study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diets had a lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels of CLA. The anticancer research for CLA and humans will hopefully continue because it looks very promising so far.
2. Reduces Heart Disease Risk
CLA is certainly one of the top highlights of grass-fed beef nutrition, and it’s been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease. This is just one of several heart benefits possessed by grass-fed beef nutrition that may not be true of other varieties of beef.
The main reasons why grass-fed beef can benefit heart health include:
Less overall fat and unhealthy fat
Lower levels of dietary cholesterol
Higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
More heart disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin E
3. Improves Blood Sugar
Getting enough healthy fats in your diet is extremely helpful to keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level. Research published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2016 looked at the effects of the healthy fat CLA on insulin sensitivity in obese children. The randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study found that 37 percent of the patients treated with CLA exhibited improvements in insulin sensitivity. In addition, muscles biopsies of the subjects treated with CLA showed an upregulation of the protein molecule IRS2 that mediates the effects of insulin on the body.
Clearly, the benefits of grass-fed beef nutrition are not just for adults. These results in children are also meaningful for adults looking to keep their blood sugar under control to ward off diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
4. More Likely to Be Free of Hormones and Antibiotics
About 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock like cows so it’s not crazy to be worried about antibiotics in beef. Cows that aren’t grass-fed live on diets of grain and are typically given hormones to unnaturally increase their weight and hence yield more meat. With grass-fed cows, weight gain is not as high because they eat a healthier, lower-calorie diet.
The main reason farmers use more antibiotics is that as meat demand goes up, animals are confined to smaller and smaller spaces, and this greatly increases the spread of disease. The use of antibiotics in meat, particularly factory-farmed meats, contributes to antibiotic resistance in human, which is why it’s so important that you not only question what goes in your body, but what goes in the body of the animals you put on your dinner plate.
Feeding cattle grain makes their intestinal tracts much more acidic, and this promotes the growth of bacteria like E. coli, which can actually kill someone who eats undercooked beef like a rare hamburger. We can thank the commercial meat industry for this kind of scary beef, which is the product of feeding cows grain and keeping them in overcrowded, disease-ridden feed lots.
Antibiotic and hormone use in beef is significantly less likely with grass-fed versus grain-fed. If meat is organic and grass-fed, then the animal was not given antibiotics or hormones because organic cattle are fed organic feed and are not given antibiotics or hormones. For grass-fed cattle, antibiotics are typically not given, which is very different form the consistent and common use of antibiotics on feed-lot, grain-fed cows.
5. The Safer Beef Option
Recent research conducted by Consumer Reports is the biggest study to date demonstrating that choosing grass-fed meat over conventional meat decreases your risk of food poisoning and results in fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The researchers tested for the presence and variety of bacteria in 300 samples of ground beef from 103 grocery, big-box and natural food stores in 26 cities across the country.
6. Better for the Environment
Grass-fed beef nutrition leads to many benefits to your personal health, but there’s more. Not only is grass-fed beef better for your health than grain-fed, but it’s also better for the environment. Many people avoid beef and meat entirely because of environmental concerns.
When it comes to grass-fed beef, there is some very good news. Research now shows that traditional grass-based beef production and finishing actually benefit the environment by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing biodiversity of pasture ecosystems and improving quality of run-off water from well-managed pastures. Overall, grass-fed beef has actually been shown to reduce the carbon footprint and help the environment rather than hurt it.
Source: DR.AXE Grass Fed Beef Nutrition