Is Grass-Fed Meat Really That Much Better For You Than Conventional?

Ok. Most of us who have tried both of these meats know the two present an acute difference in taste and therefore the cooking times and methods vary as well. The appearance of grass-fed versus grain-fed (conventional) is also different, as grass-fed beef tends to have less fat, and the marbling of the fat tends to be tinted a bit darker, as does the rest of the meat in comparison.

grassfedvsgrainfed

So, it’s pretty obvious that one is generally leaner than the other, but is one actually healthier than the other? Skip to the bottom to find out, or read the rest of the article and give your knowledge some context.

As a non-lover of beef, I would be inclined to say both of them aren’t the healthiest for humans; however, I do eat beef very occasionally and therefore would like to know if one is nutritionally superior to the other. VWR investigates . . .

Sidenote: one of the reasons I like Dave Asprey’s content so much is he thoroughly investigates topics and organizes his data very well. It’s amazing that a computer science major writes better articles about health than some of the “professionals” in the field. Healthline was in the top 5 of the Google results and the article was complete garbage. It stated that the Innuit tribes ate a lot of meat and were very healthy. (Colin Cowherd voice) Whaaa?! Most of the Innuits died before the age of 40 and ate stuff like whale blubber and fish, not grass-fed cattle! “Oh but Adam it was cold in Canada. They were dying from freezing to death and other “natural causes.” Yeah, uh huh. Keep tellin’ yourself that, buddy.

What does the literature say? What are the physical health benefits of one versus the other?

1. Higher omega-3’s than conventional meat

According to this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16500874), grass-fed beef contained more omega-3’s and CLA content than conventional by a long-shot. In fact, the conventional meats involved in the study did not even register as a substantial dietary source of either of those nutrients! That’s pretty sad…

2. Higher carotenoids and trace minerals

According to this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18641180), the fat on grass-fed beef is more yellow, indicating it has higher carotenoids and mineral density. It may seem juvenile to some, but an age-old saying is the darker the (anything), the better it is for you. This is definitely true with iceberg lettuce versus leafy romaine and works in many other similar comparisons—point being, eat and drink darker things! 

3. Both had same amounts of Poly-unsaturated (bad fats), cholesterol, and omega-6s.

The same study mentioned above also states that both grass-fed and grain-fed meat contained the same amounts of the above compounds, all of which (for the most part) aren’t too good for you.

VWR argues

  • Not sustainable for humans

Grass-Fed beef is what all beef SHOULD be, but it simply won’t feed the entire world’s population because of insufficient land. As an environmentalist, it’s better to eat grass-fed than grain, but eat it in extreme moderation. 

  • Still not enough Omega 3’s to fulfill one’s daily value. You’re better off taking a supplement.
  • But it has high carotenoids and trace minerals?!

If you want high bio-available carotenoids and trace minerals, eat some carrots or drink some carrot juice (watered down if you’re keto), and mix it with some highly bio-available green powders or something similar. Eating beef for the “nutrients” is a bit of a misnomer.

Bottom-Line

Yes, it’s better, but not by much.

If you like the TASTE of beef then yes, go ahead and eat a grass-fed steak and you are doing your body some justice over conventional. If the above statement applies to you and you’d like to call yourself an environmentalist, yes, eat a grass-fed steak (from time to time) and you are helping the environment a TAD; but calling grass-fed beef a superfood like some people are right now is (I think) a bit of a stretch.

I have yet to find a single argument that actually makes scientific sense suggesting the presence of certain nutrients in beef that one cannot get from fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I feel like I hear “iron” a lot, but that is complete bogus. Iron is in so many vegetables I don’t even feel like listing them. That leaves a whole, celebrity-sized room for a separate article.

I suppose the bottom, bottom line is, if you have the money, spend it on the grass-fed meat and you’re probably putting your extra dollars to good use.

If you don’t have the money, like I often don’t, buy some local conventional meat, maybe do a little research on the supplier (because sometimes the standards are fairly high and they just don’t have the right certifications), and take a fish oil supplement to make up for the minute difference in Omega-3s. Or just eat some wild-caught salmon and ditch the beef all together. That’s probably what I would do.

VWR Post-Investigation Questions:

Bio-availability of grass-fed beef (or any beef) proteins:

Vegans often argue that the protein of beef and other animal sources is highly bio-unavailable and it takes the human digestive system a lot of power to process it. In my experiences, I’ve found this to be true, but this is all anecdotal. If you don’t believe me, take a week off meat, then eat a grass-fed steak. You don’t feel shitty necessarily, but your stomach will probably tighten up a bit (at least mine does). It’s just a feeling of, “Man, I’m puttin’ this baby to work today!” So whether or not the protein is very useable is something I would like to see studied.


Stay Well,

Adam Vincent


Sources

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/grass-fed-vs-grain-fed-beef#section4

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18641180

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1069&context=extension_curall

http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/grass-fed-meat-part-1/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/the-health-benefits-of-grass-fed-meat-part-2/

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