Today, many people are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from in order to live a healthier lifestyle. Among the products promoted for healthier eating is grass-fed beef. This particular type of meat is noted for providing several great health benefits due to the way in which the animals from where the meat is taken are fed. This article will explain what grass-fed meat is and how it can be better for your health compared to other types of meat.
Grass-Fed Meat vs. Grain-Fed Meat
In the United States, most meats are actually grain-fed meat (sometimes referred to as feedlot beef). This means that the animals from which the meat is taken are fed with concentrated feed composed mostly of corn, soy and different types of grain. Much of this feed has been pesticide treated, so the grain eaten by these animals may contain some chemicals as well.
Grass-fed meats come from animals that have been raised on a diet of grasses and other leafy greens, most of which they find naturally in their pasture. They are not fed concentrated feed like the animals from which grain-fed meat comes from. In some cases, animals raised on a grass-fed diet also get some other natural items in their diet, such as vegetables. Most farms that produce grass-fed meats try to avoid using pesticides or other non-natural products on their grass so that the meat remains as natural as possible. However, it is important to remember that grass-fed is not the equivalent of "organic," "free-range" or other labels applied to some food products.
Grass-Fed Meats Health Benefits
There are a number of great health benefits that come with eating grass-fed meats instead of grain-fed meats, including:
- Fat content: Grass-fed meats generally have much less saturated fat and total fat than grain-fed meat products. Since the fat content is a major cause for concern for those who like to eat red meat, eating grass-fed meat products can be a great way to cut down their fat intake while still getting to enjoy the foods they love.
- Calorie count: Grass-fed meat is also lower in calories thanks to its low fat content.
- Omega 3 content: Often called a "good fat," omega 3 fatty acids are found in higher quantities in grass-fed meats compared to grain-fed meats. Omega 3 has been linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for heart attack. Plus, they are also good for your brain - a person who eats a lot of omega 3 usually has a lower risk of developing depression, Alzheimer's or schizophrenia.
- Nutrient content: Grass-fed meat tends to have much more vitamin E than grain-fed meat. Meanwhile, it also has much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a nutrient closely associated with a lowered risk of cancer.
- E. coli levels: Grass-fed animals develop intestinal tracts that are less acidic, which means that E. coli bacteria is less likely to survive within their bodies. Therefore, grass-fed meats have a much lower incidence of E. coli contamination compared to grain-fed meats.
- Environmental effects: Feeding animals grain actually requires the use of a lot of energy. Growing corn, for example, requires huge amounts of chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers are usually made from petroleum, meaning that this type of feed uses up hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil each year. Additionally, the waste from animals which are grass-fed is able to drop in the pastures and naturally fertilize the land. In factory-style grain-fed environments, the animal waste builds up and can potentially pollute the surrounding water and air.
How to Find Grass-Fed Meat
If you are shopping in a grocery store, the best way to find grass-fed meats is to carefully check the labels of the products you are buying. These products are usually labeled as "grass-fed" or "grass-finished." Another great source for grass-fed meat is your local farmers' market. At these events, you can talk to local farmers about the exact practices they use to find out whether their animals are truly grass-fed.
If you are not able to buy grass-fed meat locally, there are many websites that sell these food products online. Simply do a search for "grass-fed beef" or whatever type of grass-fed meat you'd like to buy on a major search engine. Then, you can shop for the grass-fed meat products that you want and have them shipped right to your door.