If you hear those buzzwords and phrases like “organic,” “no antibiotics,” “no hormones,” and “humanely harvested” enough, you might begin to believe those foods have some advantages (to either your health or to the environment). But why exactly those foods are better than the normal ones without any fancy labels may be quite a mystery. In actuality, some of those buzz words do indeed have quantified benefits (that is, some more than others). Specifically, some phrases around beef actually mean quite a bit about the quality of the food. We’ll focus in on a couple of those here.
What exactly does it mean if the beef you’re looking on the other side of the counter has a label, “100% grass-fed,” “pasture-raised,” or “pastured?” Well, theoretically it means exactly that: that the cows were fed grass, or fed off of the pasture, and they ate what they would naturally eat, for 100% of their lives.
In general, cows tend to be fed grass and maybe grains for some portion of their lives (typically 80% or so), but then they’re often fed corn to get some nice marble in their meat for the last leg. We’re big fans of fats here at the Platform, and that marble tastes delicious. But unfortunately the marble is often a direct consequence of the corn: a specific type of fat that tends to be inflammatory in high amounts called omega-6 fatty acids.
On the other hand, cows that eat what they were meant to eat (i.e., grass) actually tend to have less marble (fat) in their meat. This is because cows are ruminants (animals with a rumen) that are meant to eat grass and other high-fiber plants. The corn tends to makes the cows fattier than grass does. Although we miss the fat, it’s okay because we can get extras in the butter or ghee from grass-fed cows and enjoy the high-quality fat without the inflammatory omega-6’s. But in addition to not having the high amounts of omega-6’s, the grass fed beef has some other awesome advantages:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
The reason you're told to eat fish or take fish oil... we can actually get even more omega-3 in grass-fed beef than a lot of fish, while there's no significant amount to speak of in grain-fed / corn-fed beef. We could talk about the benefits of omega-3's forever, but in short DHA and EPA are greatly advantageous for brain power and reducing inflammation. High omega-6 (which most Americans get from vegetable oils, nuts, grain-fed animals) without the omega-3 are highly inflammatory (inflammation and oxidative stress being linked to virtually any disease we can think of: recall the way to live to over 100); and average American n-6:n-3 ratios can be as high as 30:1. Grass-fed beef is generally somewhere between 1:1 and 4:1, which is within the ideal range for humans.
Precursor of Vitamin A (critical for vision, bone growth, cell division, reproduction): grass-fed beef contains up to 7x that of grain-fed.
3. Vitamin E:
A potent antioxidant which reduces inflammation (thinking back to the earlier statement about inflammation and oxidative stress): grass-fed beef has up to 2x that of grain-fed.
B1, B2, and B12 specifically promote cellular energy, immune function, maintain nerves, repair DNA (i.e. prevent cancer), and much much more.
5. Vitamin K2:
Prevents decalcification, thus reducing risk for cavities and build up of plaque in arteries (which is the best measure we have for risk of heart disease).
6. Minerals: Calcium, magnesium, and potassium:
Bone health, nerve and muscle repair, mitochondrial (i.e. energy producing) function, and overall health.
The enhanced nutrients above are just some of the reasons to choose grass-fed beef above conventionally raised beef. Believe it or not, there are several more that we’ll touch more on at a later time. We developed a program that has similar research-based reasoning and more behind every food recommendation: you’ll find out what foods to eat and when for the best results in health and body physique. Figure out which program is right for you at theplatformfitness.com.