In New Zealand we're fortunate the majority of our beef cows are grass-fed, as opposed to being corn-fed or barley-fed as in other parts of the world. In a recent joint study by the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina, the following benefits were found in beef meat that was wholly raised on grass versus beef cows fed grains.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for good human health but because the body doesn't produce them automatically they need to be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in cognitive function and memory, as well as normal human growth and development.
Research shows Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while most Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. It is important to have the correct ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in our diets.
As well as being abundant in grass-fed beef, Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in fish such as salmon and tuna, due to the algae and seaweed they eat.
Grass-fed beef is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids because of the presence in the chlorophyll of grass in the form of alpha-linoleic acid. When cattle are fed more grain as opposed to grass, they lose their stores of Omega-3 fatty acids, and begin to store more Omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation, therefore disrupting the balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the system.
In a nutshell, grass-fed beef is essential for good health, which means it is important we support local New Zealand beef farmers and buy locally-produced beef meat as opposed to grain-fed meat imported from overseas. The cost of grass-fed New Zealand meat may be higher, but in my opinion, the health benefits far outweigh the cost.