Should You Be Eating Grass Fed Beef?
By Sara Butler
If you’ve ever been wandering down the aisle at the grocery store and noticed a label that states a product is “grass-fed,” you might wonder what that means. When including red meat in your diet, the quality of what you’re eating is very important. Here’s what you need to know about grass-fed beef in order to decide if it should be on your menu.
What Does It Mean to Be Grass Fed?
When a cow is grass fed, they have been fed only their mother’s milk, grass and greens from the pasture in growing season throughout their lives. The tricky part to this distinction is the USDA has no marketing standard for grass-fed beef, so you might get a product that has only spent a small part of its life eating grass. If you want the real deal, your best bet is to go with something labeled “100 percent grass-fed.”
Is It Better For You?
All conventional research points to yes – grass-fed beef products are better for you. It’s leaner and it’s higher in nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants and a particular kind of fat named conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been found to have anti-inflammatory benefits as well as a connection to improved immunity.
Grass-fed beef is also higher in omega-3 fatty acids – a whopping 50 percent higher! That doesn’t put it on par with fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, but it’s still pretty good. This type of beef is also less likely to have bacteria in it that are antibiotic resistant, so it’s also considered safer than regular beef.
What about Organic Beef?
The USDA does have standards for organic beef that mean the animal:
- Cannot have hormones or antibiotics.
- Must have access to the outdoors.
- Must have access to organic, vegetarian feed.
The issue with organic beef is that the feed can include grains, and that’s not a natural part of a cow’s diet. You can find beef that is both organic and grass fed, but it can be quite expensive.
What Should You Buy?
When you’re considering your health, the quality of what you eat is important, but how much you eat also makes a difference. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, you should only eat six servings of beef a week – and one serving is just three ounces. That half pound burger you enjoy every once in a while? That’s typically eight ounces!
Grass fed beef is a great option; just remember if you eat red meat that moderation is also important for your health.