By Dr. Mercola
When it comes to red meat, pasture-fed and finished beef is vastly superior to grain-fed beef, and in my view it’s the only beef worth eating. Keep in mind that it’s far more important to choose “grass-fed” than “organic,” as most grass-fed beef are also organic anyway. Not only is grass-fed beef raised in a more sustainable way for the environment, and a more humane way for the animal, but it’s the superior choice for your health.
That said, be aware that there is a load of deception when it comes to grass-fed beef, so be sure to ask your seller if it is grass finished as that is the key to make sure the animals are not fed grains. Ideally the pasture should be raised on a cocktail cover crop and provide high quality pasture for the cattle.
The natural diet for ruminant animals, such as cattle, is grass. When left to feed on grass-only diets, levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA are three to five times more than those fed grain-based diets. And that’s just for starters. A joint effort between the USDA and Clemson University researchers in 2009 determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed for human health.5 In a side-by-side comparison, they determined that grass-fed beef was:
- Lower in total fat
- Higher in beta-carotene
- Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
- Higher in total omega-3s
- Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
- Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
- A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
- Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
- Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
“If you can find certified organic grass-fed and grass-finished meat, you’ve essentially struck gold.”