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Before World War II, all beef cattle were raised on a diet of grasses. Today, cattle are started out on a diet of grasses, then finished off on a diet of grains like corn and soy, antibiotics, and other nutritional supplements.
There are advantages to the modern way: Cattle gain weight faster and can be produced year-round; are easier and more cost-effective to produce, and thus are less expensive; and produce a richer flavor.
Nevertheless, some say the old ways of grass-fed are best. A study commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation offers the following nutritional comparison:
Grass-fed beef has almost double the beta-carotene, which is converted by the human body to vitamin A, which is important for vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and differentiation.
Grass-fed beef has almost three times the natural vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against the free radicals that may lead to chronic health problems like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Grass-fed beef have approximately 60 percent more omega-3 fatty acids that grain fed beef, and have a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega 6 fatty acids, thus protecting against inflammation, blood clotting, and tumor growth.
Grass-fed beef have approximately two and a half times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain fed beef, thus protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. CLA has been found to be so important that many grain-feeders are now supplementing with it.
The benefits of grass-feeding, however, come at a cost. Grass fed beef is more expensive to produce, and hence more expensive to consume. This leads us to ask…
Is grass-fed meat for the elite? (Food Chain Radio #736)
RELATED: Not All Meat Is Created Equal