When taking a closer look at our diets, we should not only be concerned about what we eat but what our food eats as well. Generally speaking, more and more these days, the food animals that our human population consumes are not eating what they were naturally meant to eat. In many cases, grains, soybeans, corn and pharmaceutical products have replaced natural diets of roots, grasses, grubs, and bugs. Science and research are proving that eating proteins from grass-fed and pasture raised animals, provide our bodies with more health-enhancing and disease-fighting materials then the alternative.
Regarding grass-fed beef specifically, according to a scientific review published in Nutrition Journal, “Research spanning three decades suggests that grass-only diets can significantly alter the fatty acid composition and improve the overall antioxidant content of beef.” This altered fatty acid composition replaces more of the “bad fats” of grain-fed beef with the “good fats” found in grass-fed protein.
Eating cattle, pigs, and poultry raised on their natural pasture and grass-based diets will have you consuming less total fat and calories, and instead consuming more good fats like Omega 3’s, more concentrated levels of antioxidants (such as vitamins E, C, & Beta-carotene), and other disease-fighting substances.
Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3’s. Cattle raised solely on a grass-fed diet end up with much higher levels of essential omega-3’s then cattle taken to a feedlot to be fattened. Chickens have a similar outcome when raised in the pasture instead of housed indoors and deprived of greens. Chicken meat and eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3’s.
People who have ample amounts of omega-3’s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. They are also 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack and are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3’s may also reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies, these essential fats have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and also kept them from spreading.
It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids so consuming meat of grass-fed animals is one way to restore this vital nutrient in your diet.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a bonus health benefit to eating pasture raised meats. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of this good fat and the products produced from these animals can contain 3-5 times more CLA than products from animals fed a diet of grains, soybeans, and corn. CLA may be one of the most potent factors in reducing your risk of cancer.
Meat from grass-fed, pasture raised animals is also higher in vitamin E. In fact, meat from grass-fed cattle can be up to four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from feedlot cattle. Vitamin E is linked to lower risk of heart disease and cancer.
Health benefits aside, we would argue that another strong reason to choose pastured and grass-fed animal proteins in your diet would be for the superior flavor and tenderness. It’s a win-win situation when the animals get to consume the natural grasses, roots, grubs, and bugs of their pastures and we as consumers get to enjoy a more delicious and healthy meat product. At the end of the day, it feels great to support local agriculture where the practices are centered around traditional feed for the animals, respect for the animals providing us with these proteins in our diets, and the land and the people who produce these animals.
At Locavore Delivery, we’ve built relationships with each of our small family run ranch suppliers and know first-hand that the farming practices they utilize produce only the finest quality grass-fed and pasture raised meats available.