Chances are if you have looked at a health food magazine or follow any health blogs, you’ve heard that you should be eating pasture-raised, grass fed meat. If you have actually checked out these options at the grocery store, you probably noticed the bigger price tag on them. So, is it really worth it?
In short, absolutely. But there are many different aspects of grass fed beef that make it the best possible option, and it’s important to know why you’re spending that couple extra bucks.
First, let’s look at it from an ethical perspective. Cattle, like humans, have changed over the millennia and now prefer a certain environment to remain the healthiest they can for the longest amount of time. For cattle, being able to graze freely and consume nutrients that their bodies are best suited to break down makes them the healthiest that they can be.
Until recently, the differences between grain fed cattle and pasture-raised, grass fed cattle as well as the differences in the quality of meat between the two were largely unknown. There have been several “exposé documentaries” in the past few years that have showed the true colors and inhumane methods of slaughtering animals. Conventional, commercial beef is stuck in a cage, fed grain that it is unable to digest efficiently, and eventually slaughtered cruelly. When you buy grass fed, pasture-raised beef from the supermarket, you are joining the minority of people supporting ethical practices.
From a nutritional point of view, grass fed beef is a wonderful source of clean protein. You want to feed your body nutrients that align with what it needs, as well as keep out toxins and “anti-nutrients” as much as possible. Studies suggest that grass-fed beef as compared to grain-fed beef has less intramuscular fat, tougher meat and darker muscle color, as well as being more stable to oxidation. More importantly, grass-fed beef has a drastically lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than grain fed beef. This is important because high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios like those in grain fed beef have been linked to many chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer. Grass-fed beef has also been found to contain higher antioxidant levels than grain-fed. This beef had considerably higher levels of superoxide dismutase, vitamin E, vitamin A, and glutathione (the body’s master antioxidant). High levels of antioxidants, like the ones in the grass-fed beef, help protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Lastly, there is the financial perspective on grass-fed beef. This often seems to be the biggest barrier people face in switching to grass-fed beef, because it is more expensive. This is because grass is not available worldwide all year round, so the cost of allowing cattle to graze freely and storing the grass reflects in the price of the beef. If the extra money really bothers you, try buying in bulk, or find a local farmer that raises grass-fed cattle, as cutting out a middle man will definitely reduce the price you are paying for your food.
If you would like to know more or have any questions about the healthiest options for you, please contact Flourish Integrative Health at Info@FlourishIntegrative.com or 415.721.2990.