Wait – what?! Did you say, health benefits of eating red meat? But haven’t we been told that “a diet high in red meat and saturated fat… blah blah blah.”
Here are the facts concerning grass-fed beef consumption being associated with health benefits (backed up by the scientific studies, if you’re interested):
Grass-fed beef tends to have a higher nutritional profile compared to conventionally raised beef, containing higher levels of:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – which are beneficial for heart health and play a crucial role in reducing inflammation;
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): a type of fatty acid associated with various health benefits, including anti-cancer properties and improved body composition;
- Certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants, compared to grain-fed beef;
- Lower total fat content than grain-fed beef.
What’s more, it is becoming increasingly clear that the link between saturated fat intake (the kind of fat found in all beef) and increased risk of heart disease is not supported by scientific evidence. According to Teicholz (2023) (emphasis added):
“The idea that saturated fats cause heart disease, called the diet-heart hypothesis, was introduced in the 1950s, based on weak, associational evidence. Subsequent clinical trials attempting to substantiate this hypothesis could never establish a causal link… [but] were largely ignored for decades… Subsequent reexaminations of this evidence by nutrition experts… have largely concluded that saturated fats have no effect on cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular mortality or total mortality…The global re-evaluation of saturated fats that has occurred over the past decade implies that caps on these fats are not warranted and should no longer be part of national dietary guidelines. Conflicts of interest and longstanding biases stand in the way of updating dietary policy to reflect the current evidence.”
So there you have it! Don’t worry too much about your saturated fat intake, and when you do choose to eat foods that contain saturated fat, look for options – like our Wisconsin Meadows 100% grass-fed beef – that have lots of other health benefits to boot. Not to mention the fact that your purchase supports family farmers right here in Wisconsin, and that the beef you eat comes from some of the happiest, healthiest cattle anywhere in the world!
By: Josh Miner, Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative
Daley, C.A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P.S., Nader, G.A., and Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal, 9(10). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10.
French, P., Stanton, C., Lawless, F., O’Riordan, E.G., Monahan, F.J., and Caffrey, P.J. (2000). Fatty acid composition, including conjugated linoleic acid, of intramuscular fat from steers offered grazed grass, grass silage, or concentrate-based diets. Journal of Animal Science, 78(11), 2849-2855. doi:10.2527/2000.78112849x.
Dhiman, T.R., Anand, G.R., Satter, L.D., and Pariza, M.W. (1999). Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets. Journal of Dairy Science, 82(10), 2146-2156. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(99)75458-5.
Leheska, J.M., Thompson, L.D., Howe, J.C., Hentges, E., Boyce, J., Brooks, J.C., … & Smith, S.B. (2008). Effects of conventional and grass-feeding systems on the nutrient composition of beef. Journal of Animal Science, 86(12), 3575-3585. doi:10.2527/jas.2007-0561.
Teicholz, N (2023). A short history of saturated fat: the making and unmaking of a scientific consensus. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, 30(1): 65–71. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000791.