Think all red meat is bad for your health? Maybe not. A new study in the British Journal of Nutrition is linking grass-fed beef with higher blood levels of omega-3s, which have been associated with positive health benefits, compared to more common grain-finished red meat.
As food blog Foodista affirms, cows are genetically designed to eat grass, not the grain diet of conventional farming, so it stands to reason that grass-fed cows would be healthier (and healthier for us) than factory farmed cows. This study backs up that notion, concluding that:
Red meat from grass-fed animals may contribute to dietary intakes of LC n-3 PUFA [Omega-3 fatty acid] in populations where red meat is habitually consumed.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, walnuts, and some fruits and vegetables have been recommended for several health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease—interesting because red meat is commonly seen as a villain when it comes to heart health.
People who seek out grass-fed beef usually do so for ethical and environmental reasons, as grass-fed ranchers are typically small, local producers who raise cattle humanely on open pastures (in addition to giving the cows their natural diet). Grass-fed beef is also leaner. This study's findings may offer another compelling reason for meat eaters to choose grass-fed beef over the conventional kind, even though it's more expensive and more difficult to find.