Why Grassfed is Good for You and Me
There is becoming a plethora of information available as to why grassfed beef is so good for not only the environment and the animal’s health, but also your health. In general the average United States citizen is leading a more sedentary lifestyle than we were at any time in the past. This is a good thing when you consider we are allowing technology to provide us with a more efficient society and that our standard of living has steadily continued to improve at the same time. The obvious downfall is that if we learn to accomplish a certain objective with less effort than before then that is how we are apt to do it. Such is the case with physical activity and the calories needed to function and perform our daily activities and jobs.
Fats tend to make up a significant portion of total caloric content in our diet. Grassfed beef is typically lower in fat and a higher percentage of lean muscle than other forms of red meat. But, you say, aren’t there other types of meat, like chicken that are also lean. The answer is yes, but it is becoming increasingly evident that the make up of the fat is even more important.(1) The ratio of the polyunsaturated fatty acids that are termed omega-6 and omega-3 appears to be one of the critical factors. These are essential fatty acids, which means our bodies need them, not necessarily any more than other fatty acids, but we cannot produce them ourselves so they must be supplied in the diet.
There have been two major trends that have occurred in the last century to throw the fatty acid ratio in our diet out of balance for a healthy body. The first is the development of the oil seed processing industry which began a steady trend of increasing vegetable oils in our diet. Through modification of these oils and their incorporation into highly processed foods, they extend the food products shelf life making it very economical and profitable for corporate food handlers to include. Most of the plastic wrapped, highly processed foods in the center isles of the supermarket contain large amounts of vegetable oils.
The other occurrence is the shift to finishing cattle in feedlots with grain feeding. They, like us, get large doses of vegetable oils in their diet, mostly conventionally raised and sprayed, GMO corn and soybeans. Since "you are what you eat", the fat content of their bodies are a product of this diet. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the diets of Americans has risen from somewhere between 10:1 to 20:1 with grain fed beef being a significant contributor to this imbalance.(2) A healthy intake would put the overall diet ratio close to 3:1. (3) The ratio in grassfed beef is in the 2:1 range making it an important and healthy choice to include in a regular diet.
(1) Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary fats: total fat and fatty acids. In: Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Washington, DC: The National Academy Press, 2002:335–432.
(2) Kris-Etherton PM, Taylor DS, Yu-Poth S, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71(suppl):179S– 88S.
(3) Omega-3/Omega-6 fatty acid content of Grassfed Beef: C.A. Daley1, A. Abbott1, M. Basurto1, G. Nader2, and S. Larson2 College of Agriculture, California State University, Chico1