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The Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

Maybe you have heard about the value of grass-fed beef.

Beef that comes from grass-fed or pastured animals is chock full of health benefits. 100% grass-fed beef is fed on grasses, sometimes hay and alfalfa, and what is called “forage”, or the wild plant life that you would find out in a pastured field. This means that all the nutrients and minerals found in the soil and in pastured land gets consumed by the cattle and end up in the meat that you eventually eat.

Recently, Body Ecology had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Lowell Novy of Novy Ranches and Jordan Rubin from Beyond Organic. Both Dr. Novy and Jordan Rubin are experts in the field of raising premium, 100% grass-fed beef. They explained to us exactly why grass-fed is so valuable: because it’s better for the environment, it’s better for the body, and it’s better for your family and friends.

You Are What You Eat

This means that what you put into your body becomes the building material for new cells and the energy to fuel this process. When we eat foods that make sense to our bodies, everything runs smoothly. While there are many theories floating around about exactly which foods are best for optimal health, looking toward traditional food and traditional food preparation is a good place to begin.

  • Traditional foods have nourished the human body for generations, long before the advent of modern food processing.
  • Modern disease is just that: a product of modern times.
  • Food additives, preservatives, flavorings, coloring, and other taste gimmicks all add up in the body.
  • Many current, widespread degenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, and learning disorders can all be traced back to the food that we eat.
Are you eating grass-fed beef? Grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation and reduce the risk of type II diabetes, thyroid disorders, and obesity.

Cattle too are what they eat. If cattle eat a diet that they are not meant to consume, they become unhealthy. If you’re willing to buy beef from an animal that has been fed chemically treated corn because you think it’s the same stuff that comes from 100% pasture-raised cattle, think again. These two products are drastically different. After eating grass-fed beef, you can literally feel the difference in your own body.

One of the most remarkable benefits of grass-fed beef is its high omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile.

While many of us have heard that cold-water fish are an especially good source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, few of us know that when raised naturally and on pastured land, beef has its own healthy fats to boast about. These are:

  • A healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
  • A special fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

Almost everyone needs that extra omega-3 boost because too many of us consume hidden omega-6 fats, which, in excess, are pro-inflammatory. Since inflammation plays a significant role in many degenerative diseases, this is certainly something you would want to avoid! Excessive dietary omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to:

  • Contribute to inflammation. (1)
  • Contribute to type II diabetes. (2)
  • Lead to insulin resistance. (3)
  • Interfere with thyroid function. (4)
  • Program “obese genes” that persist over four generations. (5)

Contrary to what we know about omega-6 fatty acids, most food sold in markets, even organic food, contains vegetable and seed oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Grain-fed beef has a high pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid profile.

And 100% grass-fed beef? Its healthy omega-3 fatty acid profile rivals that of some fish. In order to get these fats, however, you need cuts of meat that have an exterior layer of fat. You can also find omega-3 fats in other nutrient-dense parts of the animal, such as the liver and bone marrow.

Another important fatty acid that is found abundantly in grass-fed beef is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is unique and sought-after because it is a nutrient that can tone up and slim down the waistline. You read that right: CLA is a fat that helps you lose fat! Some studies even show that CLA can suppress tumor growth. (6)

Grass-fed beef also has other nutrients like the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E and the amino acids L-carnitine and carnosine.

You may have already heard about the antioxidant value of vitamin E. But why are antioxidants important?

  • Antioxidants are known for their ability to protect the body against free radical damage, or what is otherwise known as oxidative stress.
  • Oxidative stress leads to the degeneration of tissue, aging, and the inflammatory response.
  • A little oxidative stress is normal. A lot of oxidative stress can become a burden and wear the body down.

Like vitamin E, carnosine has antioxidant value. It also is an amino acid.

  • It turns out that carnosine inhibits proteins from cross-linking up to sugars.
  • This cross-linking action actually accelerates the aging process, both within and without! For example, this can show up in the skin as wrinkles or in the veins as brittle vasculature.
  • For this reason, carnosine is particularly popular among those interested in anti-aging therapies.
  • Because carnosine is concentrated in brain and muscle tissue, the best place to find it is in meat.
  • Carnosine is especially abundant in grass-fed meat.

L-carnitine is another amino acid that even as an isolated dietary supplement is popular for its ability to keep the body youthful. L-carnitine encourages the body to breakdown fat as an energy source. This means that it can have a slimming effect if used correctly in whole food form. Like carnosine, L-carnitine has a significant antioxidant effect in the body. Rather than protecting proteins, however, L-carnitine protects fats from oxidation.

If you do not already have a reliable source for 100% grass-fed beef, look into Novy Ranches and Beyond Organic.

Dr. Novy, a veterinarian practicing in Southern California, also spends part of his time managing Novy Ranches. Novy Ranches runs through Shasta Valley in Northern California and is located on extremely rich soil.

Remember, what goes into the forage and grass also goes into the cattle. Dr. Novy has a personal commitment to the environment, animal protection, wildlife conservation, and to the health of the human body. In the food industry, this kind of foresight is revolutionary, as all elements of health and wellbeing are interrelated. As Dr. Novy tells us, “The cattle actually own the ranch. We’re just there taking care of them. We do the very best we can.”

You can find Dr. Novy’s 100% pasture-raised beef online at www.novyranches.com. If you are in Southern California, Novy Ranches beef is available at 14 farmer’s markets in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. They will also ship cuts to you. Or, you can also visit their store located in Simi Valley.

Beyond Organic encompasses 9,000 acres of certified organic land that has been designed to foster truly healing foods. One food that founder Jordan Rubin features is 100% grass-fed beef, raised on pastures in southern Missouri and north Georgia.

Jordan went through a healing journey himself 15 years ago after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. After being in and out of hospitals for 2 years and in a wheelchair, at the age of 20 Jordan discovered how to use traditional foods like pasture-raised meats and fermented dairy in order to heal his gut, repair his immune system, and restore his energy.

His new company, Beyond Organic, grew from the realization that food can either damage or repair the body.

Shopping Tips:

  • Beef that is grass-fed and grain-finished is common.
  • Green-finished means that the cattle is not grain-finished and has remained on pasture 90-120 days before harvest. According to Jordan Rubin, these final 30 days are the most significant in determining the nutrient value of an animal.   
  • The distinction between grain-finished and green-finished is sometimes not made, so it is important to ask.
  • The label “organic” does not mean that the animal was grass-fed.
  • When shopping for grass-fed meats, be sure and locate 100% grass-fed beef.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

Grass-fed beef provides a number of health benefits since it is rich in the many nutrients and minerals found in soil. Eating beef from an animal that has been fed chemically treated corn can negatively affect your health and trigger degenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, and learning disabilities.

Grass-fed beef is high in omega-3 fatty acids that neutralize the inflammation caused by omega-6 fatty acids. Grass-fed beef also contains CLA, a healthy fat that can help you to slim down and lose body fat. Grass-fed beef is rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, as well as the amino acids L-carnitine and carnosine.

When shopping for beef, make sure that it is grass-fed and green-finished. Just because a product is labeled organic does not mean that it came from grass-fed cattle!

REFERENCES:

  1. González-Périz A, et al. Resolution of adipose tissue inflammation. ScientificWorldJournal. 2010 May 4;10:832-56.
  2. Phillips, CM. Leptin receptor polymorphisms interact with polyunsaturated fatty acids to augment risk of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome in adults. J Nutr. 2010 Feb;140(2):238-44. Epub 2009 Dec 23.
  3. LH Storlien, et al. Fish oil prevents insulin resistance induced by high-fat feeding in rats. Science. 1987 Aug 21;237(4817):885-8.
  4. WM Wiersinga. Inhibition of nuclear T3 binding by fatty acids. Metabolism. 1988 Oct;37(10):996-1002.
  5. Florence Massiera, et al. A Western-like fat diet is sufficient to induce a gradual enhancement in fat mass over generations. J. Lipid Res. 2010 jlr.M006866. April 20, 2010.
  6. Amaru Danielle and Field, Catherine. Conjugated Linoleic Acid Decreases MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cell Growth and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Receptor Levels. Lipids. 2009 May 01. 44 (5) 449 - 458.

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    […] The Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef […]

  • beefeater

    First I have a vested interest but can personally attest to the truths implied in this article. In the 1940's and 50's I grew up on predominately long rotation grass beef and lamb fattening farms in the Roman Wall country of Northumberland, UK. Tradition there was to eat beef daily, fish once a week and all else in moderation including lamb which was plentiful. The writings of Caesar over 2000 years earlier indicate he invaded,'burning his boats' for the meat and milk on which the inhabitants lived and I actually played in and later repaired Roman field drains.
    I loved the taste of grassfed roast beef fat and had a very healthy childhood before the introduction of fossil fuel, chemical, arable cropping agriculture. Break crops of oats/barley/swedes were used for winter fattening on manure packs for rotational fertility. Later I served in the constabulary as a highly trained investigator before coming to Canada where I now farm in Nova Scotia as a predominately grassfed beef farmer of some 30years experience.
    It is said that the best evidence is that of direct experience of any particular circumstances. Unfortunately until 1996 I had embraced all the so called modern practices disseminated by departments of Agriculture, sound science etc until I came across a report of fried ground beef suppressing cancer.(subsequently leading to the discovery of CLA.) Since 1996 we have reverted back to the farming of my youth and retail farm direct beef since BSE. For the past two years I have researched evidence continually on line because of the partial truths being proliferated by vested interests who still condemn red meats and blame cattle for our ills when in fact the evidence is irrefutably the opposite.
    Suffice to say personally I had become overweight and was advised to cut back on red meat etc. Research led me to do the exact opposite, cutting out most chicken and pork, grains and sugars and I feel better than in many years taking my belt in 6 inches whilst being in the privileged position to eat as my forbears did. My wife had always made beef bone broth soup and stews but now we have them several time a week. I have come to believe the ancients were right and such soups are the elixer of life for young and old alike. (see GAPS and me diets). Old fashioned grass cattle farming has the added benefit of mitigating climate change and fertilizing soils depleted by crops as documented by the Romans use of Farm Yard Manure in Villa farming of first century Britain. Science now shows that grass/beef farming sequesters as much per head in carbon as is released by arable agriculture for the equivalent in grain processing/fed meats. Eventually the truth may out.

  • JDR

    Yes, but they're most likely NOT talking about good quality grass fed beef, they're talking about commercial, mass produced beef, and the average American that eats all kinds of junk.

  • john polifronio

    I can't tell you how strongly I want to believe what you're saying here, about grass-fed beef, etc.. But, certainly, you must realize that there is a whole school of nutritional doctors, Ornish, MacDougall, Essylsten, etc., that insist that they have clear evidence, that flesh foods, especially red meat, is an abomination, totally unfit for human consumption, causing heart disease and other serious maladies. Where is the scientific accord, based on good, objective research, to which nutrional scientists can point, that will increase the public's confidence in natural approches?
    jp

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