The consensus is that organic vegetables and fruits are better for you than non-organic foods because their pesticides and chemicals make you weak. The same could be said of meat — sort of. Consumers have become aware that meat raised without antibiotics or hormones is better for you.
That’s true, but did you know there’s a way to eat meat that’s a cut above?
Organic grass-fed meat. Nothing is more bulletproof than grass-fed meat.
Grass-fed looks similar to grain-fed meat, tastes (somewhat) similar, and smells the same, but it’s simply the most nutritious meat you can buy. It’s lower in toxins and packed with more powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fats and is hands-down better for the environment than grain-fed meat.
Here are just a few good reasons to eat grass-fed meat:
1. Grass-fed meat is higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
Grass-fed animal meat has up to two to four times the omega-3s that grain-fed meat has. Studies show that feeding cows grain for just 80 days was enough to destroy their omega-3 content. The longer the cattle were fed grains, the lower the quality of the meat.
Why does that matter?
Omega-3s play a central role in the function of every cell in your body. They provide a “launchpad" for making hormones that regulate the blood, heart, and genetic function. They are also the most heart-friendly fatty acid.
Often overlooked is how key the omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio is for higher body performance. The optimal ratio is 4:1 (or lower). Grass-fed meat has a ratio of about 2:1 while grain-fed meat has a whopping 14:1 ratio!
2. Grass-fed meat is higher in CLA, which helps you burn fat.
Meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals are the richest known sources of the essential fatty acid "conjugated linoleic acid," or CLA. The human body doesn't produce it, so it’s critical to get it in your diet.
CLA helps increase your metabolism, boosts immunity, keeps cholesterol levels in check, and fights cancer. Studies show CLA helps you lose weight by increasing your basal metabolic rate as well as maintaining a favorable fat-muscle ratio. It's also been proven to increase muscle strength.
Like omega-3s, nourishing cows with grass dramatically increases the amount of CLA in meat. A study comparing grass- with grain-feeding cows revealed that grass-fed cows have more CLA. The CLA content of grain-fed cows plummeted in less than 12 weeks.
3. Grass-fed meats contain more potent carotenoids.
One of the things you’ll notice when cooking grass-fed meat is the yellowish color of the fat and the superior flavor. It’s the carotenoids, the colorful pigments, that give grass-fed meat fat its rich yellow color.
The more carotenoids in a substance, the more nutrients it contains. Grass-fed meat’s carotenoids have beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) and lutein, which gets converted into powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer and heart disease.
4. Grass-fed meat is lower in saturated fats.
Saturated fats found in meat are stearic acid, palmitic acid, and myristic acid. It's the latter two fats that are cause for concern when it comes to maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol. Research proves that grass-fed meats contain less palmitic and myristic acid than grain-fed meat.
5. Grass-fed meat is better for the environment.
Putting cattle in feedlots may be one of humanity’s dumbest ideas. With 99 percent of American cattle eating in feedlots, a typical factory farm diet may consist of grains, corn, stale bread, cereal, soy, chicken feathers, or city garbage (I couldn’t make this up if I tried). It’s an ecological disaster with cow waste contributing to the dangerous rise in greenhouse gasses. Also, the production of factory-raised cattle using poisonous fertilizers and pesticides leaves a scarring carbon footprint.
On the other hand, grass-fed cows and ruminant animals have a symbiotic relationship with the land they graze. By clearing pastures, they not only encourage new plant growth, but they also help build productive soil with their nutrient-rich compostable manure. Fertile soil also keeps carbon monoxide at bay, which contributes to offset their methane emissions.
Consumer tip: Make sure to read your labels, as the term “grass-fed” has been abused. Organic meat doesn’t necessarily mean grass-fed. Check that the label says “100% grass-fed,” as less honest producers will grain-feed and then grass-finish their animals.
What are your tips for buying grass-fed meat? Do you work with a local farm or rancher? Please share your stories and insight! To learn even more about low-toxin, high-nutrient grass-fed meat, check out my series inspired by principles in the New York Times best-selling Bulletproof Diet book and my recipes in the Bulletproof Cookbook.
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