(Below are excerpts from several grass-fed related studies of beef, milk and eggs.)
Score Ten for Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef is better for human health than grain-fed beef in ten different ways, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date. The 2009 study was a joint effort between the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. Compared with grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef was:
- Lower in total fat
- Higher in beta-carotene
- Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
- Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
- Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
- Higher in total omega-3s
- 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)
- Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease
S.K. Duckett et al, Journal of Animal Science, (published online) June 2009, Effects of winter stocker growth rates…
Switching from Grain-fed to Grass-fed Meat is a Healthy, Natural way to Lose Weight
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with one out of every two adults burdened by excess weight. To help trim the fat, Procter and Gamble has given us Olestra, “the no-fat cooking oil with the full-fat flavor.” There are a couple of problems with Olestra. First, it cuts down on your body’s absorption of beta-carotene and vitamin E. Second, it can cause “bloating, cramping, nausea, and loose stools or diarrhea.”
Nature has given us a healthier alternative to weight control—eat meat from animals raised on fresh pasture. Meat from grassfed animals has about half the fat as meat from grainfed animals and significantly fewer calories. It also gives you a bonus supply of vitamins E, A, D, and beta-carotene.
(Burton P. Koonsvitsky et al, “Olestra Affects Serum Concentrations of Alpha-Tocopherol and Carotenoids” J of Nutrition, Vol. 127 No. 8 August 1997, pp. 1636S-1645S)
Grassfed Products Supply Needed Vitamin E
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control recently determined the vitamin E status of 16,000 American men and women. Twenty-percent per cent of white Americans, 41 per cent of African Americans, and 28 per cent of Mexican Americans were deficient in vitamin E.
Vitamin E deficiencies have been linked with diabetes, immune disorders, AIDS, muscle damage in exercise, Parkinson’s disease, eye diseases, and lung and liver diseases. Switching to the products of animals raised on grass (which is far richer in vitamin E than grain) would help prevent this widespread deficiency.
(Ford, Earl S. and Sowell, Anne. “Serum alpha-tocopherol status in the United States population: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.”American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 150, August 1, 1999, pp. 290-300.)
Meat from Grassfed Cattle is Four Times Higher in Vitamin E
In addition to being higher in omega-3s, CLA, and beta-carotene, grassfed beef is much higher in vitamin E. The meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and, interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle given vitamin E supplements. The reason for the very high vitamin E content in the meat of grassfed cattle is the very high vitamin E content in fresh grass.
In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most people tend to be deficient in vitamin E.
(“Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets.”G.C. Smith Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171)
Grass-fed Meats Improve Fat Levels
Eating moderate amounts of grass-fed meat for only 4 weeks will give you healthier levels of essential fats, according to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.
The British research showed that healthy volunteers who ate grass-fed meat increased their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased their level of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These changes are linked with a lower risk of a host of disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and inflammatory disease.
Interestingly, volunteers who consumed conventional, grain-fed meat ended up with lower levels of omega-3s and higher levels of omega-6s than they had at the beginning of the study, suggesting that eating conventional meat had been detrimental to their health.
British Journal of Nutrition(2011) Red meat from animals offered a grass diet increases plasma and platelet N-3 PUFA in healthy consumers. Volume 105, pages 80-89.
Grass-fed Beef Clearly Superior, Says New German and Canadian study
Yet another study shows that grass-fed meat is nutritionally superior to feedlot meat. This newest study examined the differences in fat content between four breeds of cattle that were either 1) raised on pasture or 2) given grain and other feedstuff in a feedlot.
As in previous research, the results showed that meat from cattle raised on pasture had much healthier fats. The researchers concluded that grass-fed meat is “clearly superior” and “remarkably beneficial.” They stated that grass-fed meat “should be promoted as an important part of a healthy balanced diet.”
(Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, June 2008, 56:4775-4782.)
Take Care of your Heart! Eat Whole Milk Dairy Products from Grass-fed Cows.
For decades, we’ve been told that eating full-fat dairy products increases the risk of heart attack. Now, a study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that the more full-fat dairy products people consume, the lower their risk of heart attack – provided the cows were grass-fed.
The reason grass-fed milk is protective is that it has up to five times more conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. CLA is a healthy fat found in the meat and milk of grazing animals. People who eat grass-fed dairy products absorb the CLA and store it in their tissues. In this new study of over 3,500 people, those with the highest levels of CLA in their tissues had a fifty percent lower risk of heart attack than those with the lowest levels. Keeping Bossy on grass could prevent more heart attacks than putting people on expensive pharmaceutical drugs with all their troubling side effects.
Smit, Liesbeth A, Ana Baylin, and Hannia Campos. 2010. Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published ahead of print, May 12, 2010.
Milk from Grassfed Cows has Hidden Benefits
Until recently, all of the experiments demonstrating the cancer-fighting properties of CLA have used synthetic CLA. To see whether the CLA that occurs naturally in cow’s milk has similar cancer-fighting properties, researchers recently compared the two. They fed one group of rats butter that was high in CLA and fed another group of rats an equivalent amount of synthetic CLA. As one would expect, the natural CLA proved to be just as effective in blocking tumor growth as the man-made variety. (In both cases, cancer yield was reduced by about 50 percent.)
However, the high CLA butter had an added benefit: the rats eating the butter accumulated even more CLA in their tissues than the rats fed an equivalent amount of synthetic CLA. The reason? Researchers believe that the rats were converting another “good” fat found in the butter, trans-vaccenic acid or TVA, into CLA, giving them a second helping of this cancer-fighting fat.
(Ip, C., S. Banni, et al. (1999). “Conjugated Linoleic Acid-Enriched Butter Fat Alters Mammary Gland Morphogenesis and Reduces Cancer Risk in Rats.” J Nutr129(12): 2135-2142.)
Free Range Eggs Nutritionally Superior
As it turns out, all those choices of eggs at your supermarket aren’t providing you much of a choice at all. Recent tests conducted by Mother Earth News magazine have shown once again that eggs from chickens that range freely on pasture provide clear nutritional benefits over eggs from confinement operations.
Mother Earth News collected samples from 14 pastured flocks across the country and had them tested at an accredited laboratory. The results were compared to official US Department of Agriculture data for commercial eggs. Results showed the pastured eggs contained an amazing:
- 1/3 less cholesterol than commercial eggs
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 7 times more beta carotene
October/November 2007 issue of Mother Earth News.
Eggs from Pastured Hens are Far Richer in Vitamin D
Eggs from hens raised outdoors on pasture have from three to six times more vitamin Dthan eggs from hens raised in confinement. Pastured hens are exposed to direct sunlight, which their bodies convert to vitamin D and then pass on to the eggs.
Vitamin D is best known for its role in building strong bones. New research shows that it can also enhance the immune system, improve mood, reduce blood pressure, combat cancer, and reduce the risk of some autoimmune disorders.
This latest good news about eggs comes from a study just released by Mother Earth News,a magazine that plays a leading role in promoting health-enhancing, natural foods. The editors found that eating just two eggs will give you from 63-126% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
Note that this benefit comes only from hens that are free to graze fresh greens, eat bugs, and bask in the sun. Most of the eggs sold in the supermarket do not meet this criterion. Even though the label says that the eggs are “certified organic” or come from “uncaged” or “free-range” hens or from hens fed an “all-vegetarian” diet, this is no guarantee that the hens had access to the outdoors or pasture.
Look for eggs from “pastured” hens. You are most likely to find these superior eggs at farmer’s markets or natural food stores.