Nutritional Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

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“Ask Margaret” is a new feature offered through the amazing organic grocery delivery service and one of my favorite sources of Naked foods, Spud! This weeks’ question was What are the nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef compared to corn-fed beef? Here’s my answer:

Grass-fed beef is certainly nutritionally superior to corn-fed beef for the simple reason that in their natural environment cows eat grass, not corn (when was the last time you drove by a corn field and saw cows gnawing at the corn?) When eating what they are biologically designed to eat, the cows themselves are healthier, and thus the quality of the meat and dairy they produce is significantly higher.

One of the key differences between the two is the quality and type of fats in the meat. Grass fed beef is actually quite lean, very high in Omega 3s (the essential fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation, among other things) and low in Omega 6s (the essential fatty acids the increase inflammation, and that tends to be rampant in our diets). The ratio of Omega 3s : Omega 6s in grass fed beef is 1:0.16, whereas in corn-fed beef it’s closer to 1:20.

Also, the Omega 3s in grass-fed beef are naturally high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a potent anti-cancer substance, a nutrient that reduces body fat in overweight people, and has beneficial effects on blood sugar levels. Grass fed beef has 300-400% more CLA than feedlot beef.

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  1. Carol Richards


    Does grass fed describe pasture raised on grass? or is the grass fed beef “finished” on grass hay instead of corn?

    Is there a difference in the taste of the meat?

    • admin


      Great question. Most cattle start off on pasture (grass), and then are “finished” in a feedlot, usually on a diet of corn and soy. Grass-fed beef, which can also be called “pastured beef”, eats grass on a pasture right through to slaughter. It’s actually quite an art to ensuring the grasses the animals are eating are high enough quality, especially in the animal’s last few months. In fact, most grass-fed beef farmers consider themselves to be more grass farmers than ranchers. There is certainly a difference in the taste. Typically grass-fed beef is much leaner, but also much more flavorful. You don’t want to cook it as much as you do grain-fed beef, since it can be tough without the extra fat.

  2. melissa


    hi, just happened across this post (over two years later). my brother, husband and I run a small, local farm in NC. We raise 100% grass-fed beef. We feel it’s important to make that distinction because many farmers, sell their product as “grass-fed” and finish on corn or other grain. There are even certain agencies creating “certifications” that lead the consumer to believe the animals are grass-fed from weaning to harvest when, in fact, they allow up to 10% non-grass feed! There’s absolutely no substitute for getting to know your farmers and their practices!

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