Does grass-fed beef have any heart-health benefits that other types of beef don't?
Answers from Martha Grogan, M.D.
Grass-fed beef typically comes from cattle that eat only grass and other foraged foods throughout their lives. Often, conventional beef and dairy cattle eat a diet that includes grains, such as corn, at some point. The difference in the diets of the cattle changes the nutrients and fats you get from eating the different types of beef.
Grass-fed beef may have some heart-health benefits that other types of beef don't have. When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef may have:
- Less total fat
- More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that's thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
- More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E
Lean beef that's 10 percent fat or less — whether it's grass-fed beef or another type of beef — can be part of a heart-healthy diet. But it's still uncertain whether grass-fed beef adds even more heart-health benefits. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you're thinking about adding more lean beef, including grass-fed beef, into your diet.
Jan. 25, 2012
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- Chahbazi J, et al. Common foods and farming methods thought to promote health: What the data show. Primary Care. 2008;35:769.
- United States standards for livestock and meat marketing claims. Federal Register. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5063842. Accessed Nov. 1, 2011.
- Daley CA, et al. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10.