Grass-fed beef has been trending in recent years. So, you might be wondering which option is better between grass-fed vs corn-fed beef? The grass is one of the natural foods of cows, while the corn’s original version wasn’t even edible. However, foods like soy/corn are based on natural foods so it might seem that beef from these food sources isn’t really unhealthy. As always, it’s important to get to the nitty-gritty of the issue. It turns out it’s a little more complicated than concluding grass is a superfood for cows and corn is junk food. There are many factors to consider what happens during the cow’s entire lifespan.
Another big trend in recent decades has been “organic” foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats. For example, while beef is “natural” meat it’s sometimes not organic. That’s because there are times cows are injected with stuff like hormones and steroids. This affects the cow’s health and can affect the quality of meat you eat like beefsteak. There’s also the big question about whether red meat is healthy. It turns out the answer is greatly related to issues like the cow’s food and later factors like meat processing. This can affect the overall nutritional value.
Is Red Meat Healthy or Unhealthy?
This is the first question to take up because it’s related to the issue of whether or not cows should eat grass or corn. In the past, the general conclusion from health experts was that red meat was generally unhealthy.
There were various reasons for this conclusion. For example, it was often argued that the high saturated fat in red meat like beef and pork increased a person’s risk of heart disease. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded red meat might be cancerous.
There are some facts that seem to contract the idea that red meat is always unhealthy. For example, there are some world cultures that eat a high amount of red meat. Are they healthy? It turns out these groups also have lower rates of serious diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.
So, the issue seems to be related to other issues. That includes how the cows are raised, where/what they eat, and whether or not they’ve been injected with synthetic chemicals. These factors seem to affect whether or not beef is “healthy.”
This helps to explain why the demand for organic and grass-fed beef has been increasing in recent years. More people are more concerned about the chemicals their bodies are exposed to. It’s not only based on what they’re eating. It’s also related to what their food-sources ate like cows, chickens, and fish.
If you want to boost your food’s nutritional value then “organic” is just the start. Other good options include grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, and wild-caught fish. These factors can affect the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants you’re getting from meat products.
One X-factor is these options cost more money. So, if you’re on a shoestring budget you might want to consider whether or not you’re willing to shell out more money for meat from grass-eating cows.
Grass-Fed vs Corn-Fed Beef
This is a big issue to consider when purchasing cow meat. In the past, it was a standard operating procedure (SOP for cows to eat grass from farms/pastures. However, the process has changed over the years.
After calves are done nursing with mother’s milk they usually move to “feedlots.” This is where the process differs from old-school methods. These spaces are often small.
The cows usually consume a diet that’s based on foods like corn and soy. They might eat some dried grass also.
Another modern practice is to inject the cows with hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals in order to maximize the cow’s growth. The cows stay in the feedlots before they’re processed into beef.
The term “grass-fed” actually isn’t too clear. Usually, this involves the animals’ diet is mostly grass instead of mostly soy/corn. This diet is also during the latter part of the cow’s life. Here are some differences in corn and grass-fed beef:
1. Fatty Acids
When cows eat grass, they usually have less body fat than ones that are grain-fed. This results in fewer calories. The difference is also significant since fat has about 2x more calories than carbs/protein.
A big difference is in the healthy fats of the beef. Grass-fed beef has up to 5x more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. This makes it healthier in terms of good fats.
Studies show that beef from grass-fed cows is higher in antioxidants than bovines that are grain-fed. This is based on the grass having more antioxidants than grains and beans. Antioxidants are important for fighting off illness and disease.
Grass-fed cows produce beef that’s higher in certain Vitamins. They include Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Vitamin A is important for health issues like eye health. Meanwhile, Vitamin E is helpful for protecting human cells from the dangers of oxygen.
Top Health Benefits of Beef
We’ve heard that protein is important for building lean muscle mass. Beef is a good protein source for achieving this goal. It’s also good for repairing tissues. So, after a high-intensity workout, you should consider protein as a post-workout meal for faster recovery.
Beef is also a good source of zinc, which is an important mineral. We require this one for different body functions. Zinc is important for different functions like DNA, cell division, and the immune system. The human body has no special system for zinc storage. So, it’s important to get enough zinc every day.
You can get iron from non-meat sources but it’s tougher. Unless you’re vegetarian/vegan it’s wise to add some red meat to your diet. Make sure the serving size is about the size of a deck of cards. You should also combine it with grains/potatoes and non-starchy veggies for a well-balanced meal.
When we think of antioxidants we usually focus on fruits and veggies. They’re an outstanding source for them. However, beef also has high levels of the so-called “master antioxidant.”
This isn’t the only antioxidant your body needs. However, if you want to boost your body’s ability to fight off bad cells you should consider eating some beef.
5. Saturated Fat
Saturated fat isn’t 100% healthy or unhealthy. For example, it increases your body’s levels of both good cholesterols as well as bad cholesterol. That said, it’s not clearly an unhealthy fat like trans-fat. This type was invented for “tub margarine” so that fact alone shows it’s really unhealthy.
In the past, it was argued that saturated fat increased a person’s risk of heart disease. However, other studies have proved that theory to be wrong. The best option if you’re going to consume saturated fat is to limit your intake after comparing grass-fed vs corn-fed beef.