Nutrition has always been a primary interest of mine. For years, when my children were growing up, I would freeze and can fresh fruits and vegetables when they were in season. Often, I would take the kids to the farm so we could pick our own. I think the “farmer” gene has always been in me, even when we lived in the city.
Now that we raise our own cattle for beef and hens for eggs, I’m very conscious about what we feed our animals and how we can produce the healthiest food for the table.
The controversy over grass-fed and corn-fed cattle has been going on for quite a while. Now, with the government looking at how much meat we should really consume, there are more and more studies that look at the nutritional value of our meat.
One of the latest studies that was published by researchers from Texas A&M University’s Department of Animal Science1 compared ground beef from grass-fed cattle with traditional, grain-fed cattle and the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type II diabetes in men. The conclusion? No significant difference.
What they did find is that ground beef is one of the most important sources of the healthful monounsaturated fatty acid in our diet. The interesting thing is that although grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, something we would expect, it is also higher in saturated and transfat. This is the fat we should monitor and eat as little of as possible.
Premium beef, on the other hand, although lower in omega-3 fatty acids, again as expected, it was higher than grass-fed beef in monounsaturated fats and lower in saturated and transfat.
But what this study did not take into account is how some cattle farmers feed – which is neither 100% grass nor high concentrations of corn.
We feed our cattle free choice pasture and hay, much like most grass-fed herds, but, we offer our cattle a small amount of a grain feed, which is blended for us at the feed elevator. It is a mix of corn, barley, and other grains to provide a more balanced feed that is both nutritious and contributes to the marbling that is required to produce premium beef.
So, go ahead and treat yourself to that burger. Grass-fed or grain-fed, it’s great for dinner.