Health Benefits Of Grass Fed Beef

It has been well documented that products from animals raised on pasture are healthier for humans.  From a nutritional standpoint, grass-fed beef is so completely different than grain-fed beef that you might think the meat came from two different types of animals.  In fact, 100% grass fed beef is so good for you that it is actually considered a "health food".

One of the biggest differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef is overall fat composition.  Grass fed beef is rich in all the fats now proven to be health-enhancing, yet low in the fats that have been linked with disease.  The complete opposite is true of grain fed products.

Fat Profiles Of Grass Fed Beef


  • Grass-fed beef is high in nutrients and contains all 22 amino acids, including the eight essential amino acids, which must be supplied in our diet.

  • Grass fed beef is leaner than grain-fed beef with much less saturated fat (also making it lower in calories, about 100 fewer calories per 6 ounces).


    Data from J. Animal Sci 80(5):1202-11

  • Grass fed beef is high in Omega 3 fatty acids (60% of the fatty acids in grass are Omega-3s). However, the supply of Omega-3s drop each day that an animal spends in the feedlot.

Omega 3s Vanish In The Feedlot
  • Grass fed beef has the recommended 3:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids. General consensus is that a healthy diet needs to maintain a 4:1 or lower ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3.  People whose diets exceed that ratio are at a higher risk for degenerative diseases such as Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and Diabetes ( grain-fed beef can have ratios that exceed 20:1).

  • Grass-fed beef is a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a recently discovered good fat that helps reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.

Fat Ratios Key To Optimal Health

Maintaining Healthy Fat Ratios is one of the keys to maintaining optimal health.Nearly every biologic function in the human body is somehow interconnected with the delicate balance between omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids.  These fatty acids are considered essential nutrients critical to human health.  But the human body is not capable of producing these essential nutrients, so we must get them from food.

In the United States, extensive use of vegetable oils and grain feeding of livestock have led to diets that are very high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3 fatty acids.  This fat ratio imbalance is a top contributor to the rise in degenerative diseases.

But the health benefits of grass fed beef do not stop there.

  • Grass-fed beef is an excellent source of Vitamin A (10 times more than grain fed), and is higher in Vitamin E (3 times more than grain fed beef).

  • Grass-fed beef is higher B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Health and Safety

Finally, when it comes to health and safety from food borne illnesses, grass fed beef is the clear winner.

  • Grass-fed beef is safe from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow Disease (MCD).

  • The risk of E. coli infection is typically much lower in locally sourced grass-fed beef.  The cattle are cleaner at time of slaughter and are typically processed by a skilled local butcher who takes great care to ensure the meat does not come into contact with feces.  See our blog (The Daily Beef) for a more detailed comparison of E. coli risks between factory farmed beef and local, pasture raised beef.

Grass Fed Beef Scorecard

Grain Fed vs Grass Fed Beef
Grain-Fed Beef
Grass-Fed Beef
Added Hormones
Usually No
Fed Antibiotics
Usually No
Fed Grain
Yes No
Omega 6:3 Ratio
20:1 3:1
CLA (conjugate linoleic acid)
Low High
Beta Carotene, Vitamin E & A
Low High
Total Fat
High & Saturated
Proper Balance
E. Coli Risk (ground beef) High Very Low

When animals are raised in pasture where they are able to forage on their natural diet of grass, they live low stress, healthier lives.  They dine on nutrient rich foods and are so healthy that there is no need to treat them with anti-biotics or other drugs.  It seems like a simple concept but is somehow lost on most of us.  Optimizing the welfare of the animal leads to healthier, happier animals which in turn optimizes the welfare of the people who eat them.  Experience the grass fed difference and spread the word.

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A 6-ounce grass fed steak has about 100 fewer calories than an equivalent grain fed steak because it is leaner.
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