The Health Benefits of Pasture Fed Beef
In recent years there has been increasing evidence of the benefits of pasture raised and grass-fed meat and dairy. These benefits are not just limited to animal welfare and the environment, but also include health benefits for humans. Grass-fed meat tends to be lower in total fat and also has higher levels of "good fats" such as Omega 3. Meat from grass-fed animals has higher vitamin levels - particularly vitamin E. The following is by no means a complete list of all research demonstrating health benefits of pasture raised and grass-fed meat, but gives an idea of the range of different benefits and the published studies that support them.
Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Studies have shown that meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain-fed animals. Omega-3s are often called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in the body. Indeed, people who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. According to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition eating moderate amounts of grass-fed meat for only 4 weeks will give consumers healthier levels of essential fats. The 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.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their meat and milk contain from three to five times more CLA than similar products from animals fed conventional grain based diets. Scientists now believe that CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA - a mere 0.1 percent of total calories - greatly reduced tumor growth. Another study found that adults with rheumatoid arthritis showed a significant decrease in blood pressure after CLA additions to their diet.