of Grass Farming
Author: Jo Johnson
"Why Grassfed is Best!"
Consumers have been led to believe that
meat is meat is meat. In other words, no matter what an animal is fed, the
nutritional value of its products remains the same. This is not true. An
animal's diet can have a profound influence on the nutrient content of its
difference between grainfed and grassfed animal products is dramatic.
First of all, grassfed products tend to be much lower in total fat than
grainfed products. For example, a sirloin steak from a grassfed steer has
about one half to one third the amount of fat as a similar cut from a
In fact, grassfed meat has about the same amount of
fat as skinless chicken or wild deer or elk.1 When meat
is this lean, it actually lowers your LDL cholesterol levels.2
grassfed meat is so lean, it is also lower in calories.
Fat has 9
calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and
carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number
A 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer has almost
100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grainfed steer.
you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to
grassfed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any
willpower or change in eating habits. If everything else in your
diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year. If all
Americans switched to grassfed meat, our national epidemic of obesity
would begin to diminish.
grassfed meat is low in "bad" fat (including saturated fat), it
gives you from two to six times more of a type of "good" fat
called "omega-3 fatty acids."
Omega-3 fatty acids play a
vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of
all the fats, they are the most "heart friendly." People who
have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high
blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50
percent less likely to have a serious heart attack.3
Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet
rich in omega-3s are less likely to be afflicted with depression,
schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's
benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer.
animal studies, these essential fatty acids have slowed the growth of a
wide array of cancers and kept them from spreading.5
Although the human research is in its infancy, researchers have shown that
omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies
advanced cancer.6 They can also hasten recovery from
Furthermore, animal studies suggest that
people with cancer who have high levels of omega-3s in their tissues may
respond better to chemotherapy than people with low levels.8
are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds
and walnuts, but they are also found in grassfed animal products.
The reason that grassfed animals have more omega-3s than grainfed
animals is that omega-3s are formed in the green leaves (specifically the
chloroplasts) of plants. Sixty percent of the fat content of grass is a
type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic or LNA.
cattle are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on
grain, they lose their valuable store of LNA as well as two other types of
omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Each day that an animal spends in
the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.9
graph below illustrates this rapid decline.
chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs
also become artificially low in omega-3s.10
from pastured hens can contain as much as 20 times more omega-3s than eggs
from factory hens.
our livestock from their natural diet of grass to large amounts of grain
is one of the reasons our modern diet is deficient in these essential
fats. It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans
consume a sufficient supply of these nutrients. Twenty percent have
levels so low that they cannot be detected.11 Switching
to grassfed animal products is one way to restore this vital nutrient to
The CLA Bonus The
meat and milk from grassfed ruminants are the richest known source of
another type of good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA. When ruminants are raised on
fresh pasture alone, their milk and meat contain as much as five times
more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.12
may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer.
animals, a very small percentage of CLA --- a mere 0.1 percent of total
calories ---greatly reduced tumor growth.13 Researcher
Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to
lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grassfed products
each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of
meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grainfed meat
and dairy products to get the same level of protection.
is new evidence suggesting that CLA does reduce cancer risk in
In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in
their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with
the lowest levels of CLA.
Switching from grainfed to grassfed meat and
dairy products places women in this lowest risk category.14
addition to being higher in omega-3s and CLA, meat from grassfed animals
is higher in vitamin E.
The graph below shows vitamin E levels in
meat from: 1) feedlot cattle, 2) feedlot cattle given high doses of synthetic
vitamin E (1,000 IU per day), and 3) cattle raised on fresh pasture with
no added supplements. The meat from the pastured cattle is four
times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and,
interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle
given vitamin E supplements.15
In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and
cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most
Americans are deficient in vitamin E.
The NY Times best selling
author, Jo Robinson, has an informative book "Why Grassfed is Best!"
on the benefits of grassfed beef. She has done a great service
educating America about this healthy beef and her book is a "must
have" in your library of health books. Please visit her web site at www.eatwild.com
to purchase the book and learn more about this healthy beef.
Fukumoto, G. K., Y.S. Kim, D. Oduda, H. Ako (1995). "Chemical
composition and shear force requirement of loin eye muscle of young,
forage-fed steers." Research Extension Series 161: 1-5.
Koizumi, I., Y. Suzuki, et al. (1991). "Studies on the fatty acid
composition of intramuscular lipids of cattle, pigs and birds." J
Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 37(6): 545-54.
Davidson, M. H., D. Hunninghake, et al. (1999). "Comparison of the
effects of lean red meat vs lean white meat on serum lipid levels among
free-living persons with hypercholesterolemia: a long-term, randomized
clinical trial." Arch Intern Med 159(12): 1331-8. The
conclusion of this study: "... diets containing primarily lean red
meat or lean white meat produced similar reductions in LDL cholesterol and
elevations in HDL cholesterol, which were maintained throughout the 36
weeks of treatment."
Siscovick, D. S., T. E. Raghunathan, et al. (1995). "Dietary Intake
and Cell Membrane Levels of Long-Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and
the Risk of Primary Cardiac Arrest." JAMA 274(17):
Simopolous, A. P. and Jo Robinson (1999). The Omega Diet. New
York, HarperCollins. My previous book, a collaboration with Dr.
Artemis P. Simopoulos, devotes an entire chapter to the vital role that
omega-3s play in brain function.
Rose, D. P., J. M. Connolly, et al. (1995). "Influence of Diets
Containing Eicosapentaenoic or Docasahexaenoic Acid on Growth and
Metastasis of Breast Cancer Cells in Nude Mice." Journal of the
National Cancer Institute 87(8): 587-92.
Tisdale, M. J. (1999). "Wasting in cancer." J Nutr 129(1S
Tashiro, T., H. Yamamori, et al. (1998). "n-3 versus n-6
polyunsaturated fatty acids in critical illness." Nutrition
8. Bougnoux, P., E. Germain, et al. (1999). "Cytotoxic drugs efficacy
correlates with adipose tissue docosahexaenoic acid level in locally
advanced breast carcinoma [In Process Citation]." Br J Cancer
9. Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, et al. (1993). "Effects of
time on feed on beef nutrient composition." J Anim Sci
10. Lopez-Bote, C. J., R.Sanz Arias, A.I. Rey, A. Castano, B. Isabel, J.
Thos (1998). "Effect of free-range feeding on omega-3 fatty acids and
alpha-tocopherol content and oxidative stability of eggs." Animal
Feed Science and Technology 72: 33-40.
Dolecek, T. A. and G. Grandits (1991). "Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty
Acids and Mortality in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT)."
World Rev Nutr Diet 66: 205-16.
Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). "Conjugated linoleic
acid content of milk from cows fed different diets." J Dairy Sci
82(10): 2146-56. Interestingly, when the pasture was
machine-harvested and then fed to the animals as hay, the cows
produced far less CLA than when they were grazing on that pasture, even
though the hay was made from the very same grass. The fat that the
animals use to produce CLA is oxidized during the wilting, drying process.
For maximum CLA, animals need to be grazing living pasture.
13. Ip, C, J.A. Scimeca, et al. (1994) "Conjugated linoleic acid.
A powerful anti-carcinogen from animal fat sources." p. 1053.
Cancer 74(3 suppl):1050-4.
14. Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V.
Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. "Inverse Association between Dietary and
Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal
Women." Nutr Cancer 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7.
Smith, G.C. "Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to
improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international
markets." Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado