When buying beef, there are many different labels these days. Grass fed, organic, grass finished. What does it all mean? What are the differences? Which is best?
First, let’s clear up the different terms and what they mean.
- Grass-fed: Unregulated claim. Any animal that was fed grass at any point.
- Grass-finished: Regulated. For animals that were fed only grass and plants for their entire lives. Usually grass-finished animals are pasture raised, not kept in pens.
- Grain-fed: Animals fed grains, usually corn and soy, but also distiller grains. Almost always kept in pens throughout their lives. Remaining stationary speeds up the weight gain process.
- Organic: Doesn’t refer to the diet of the animal, only that no hormones or antibiotics were used.
Now that you know which is which, let’s cover what the benefits are. Beef, in general, is a staple of a healthy diet. Full of vitamins and minerals, protein, and saturated fat, beef is good for you. The different types of beef have very different health benefits. Grain-fed animals, will more often than not, need antibiotics and/or hormones at some point. These are not good for your health. So organic is a remedy for that. To take it a step further though, grass fed and finished beef is your best bet.
Grass fed and finished beef contains more:
- Vitamins E, D, B (several B vitamins), K
- CLA: Up to 5x more than grain-fed. Conjugated linoleic acid. A naturally occurring fatty acid that improves brain function, weight, and reduces cancer risk
- Better fatty acid profile: 2x-4x more omega-3 and less omega-6, which are inflammatory
- Yellow fat: easier for the body to metabolize, due to the higher levels of beta-carotene
While organic and grass fed/finished meat does cost more, it is an investment in your health and longevity. If your health and well being isn’t worth extra money, I don’t know what is.