As I am sure we are all aware, the trend of grass-fed beef has been gaining momentum over the past decade. There are numerous reasons for this increase in attention, mainly a search for lean protein and/or a protein containing healthy fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids and less Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA). This is problematic and here’s why: Your body needs fat to live! Fat is a great source of energy and facilitates the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K (1). What we need to do as a health-conscious community is to look at reducing the consumption of SFAs that contribute to high cholesterol and increase consumption omega-3s that reduce cholesterol levels.
British researchers have concluded that main type of saturated fatty acid (SFA) in beef, called stearic acid, had no net impact in total cholesterol, while lauric, myristic, and palmitic fatty acids have shown a tendency to increase blood serum cholesterol levels (1,2). While all of the SFAs above are present in all beef, chicken, and pork without regard to diet, grass-fed beef has higher levels of stearic and lower levels of lauric, myristic and palmitic fatty acids that conventional grain-fed beef, chicken or pork contain. Remember that commercial chicken and pork are eating grain, as they aren’t able to digest fiber (i.e. grass) they have to get energy from somewhere and that somewhere is starch, mainly corn.
The American diet has a lower level of Omega-3 with regard to Omega-6 fatty acids which are commonly found in vegetable oils and grains. A diet high in Omega-6 fatty acids has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke (4). Scientists tend to look at the Omega-6:Omega-3 fatty acid ratio, where <4:1 is considered ideal. For reference, the Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio for conventional chicken is 15.5:1, pork is 7.1:1, conventional beef is 5.0:1, and grassfed beef is 1.5:1 (3,4,5). So with the optimum ratio of fatty acids, and other good saturated fats, grass-fed beef is the answer!
Our next dilemma is the source. Can you go to local grocery stores or health food stores and buy grass-fed beef? Of course, but you’re relying on someone to vet your food for you. The better answer may be to make friends with your farmer… and by farmer I mean a local, family enterprise like ours. <em>Visit a local farm, purchase their products, and support them! </em>Multiple times during the year, our farm is opened up to the public for viewing. I would encourage you to think twice about purchasing from a farmer who would not allow visitors.
West Ridge Farms is a full, one-stop shop for all your beef needs. Buying a half or whole steer from your local family farmer is a great way to purchase, even if you split between multiple families and neighbors. Believe me when I tell you that our family loves feeding yours. We often eat beef from the same steers that we sell to our customers, so why would we take shortcuts?
We invite EVERYONE to visit West Ridge Farms this weekend (June 1 & 2) for the Newberry County Ag & Art Tour from 10-4 on Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.
West Ridge Farms
Adam Frick is a chemist and beef cattle farmer who resides with his wife, Jennifer in Little Mountain, SC. West Ridge Farms has been in the Frick family for 40 years and producing grass-fed beef for the past 11 years. Adam and Jennifer make the rounds selling their grass-fed beef at local farmer’s markets and through custom order home deliveries. West Ridge Farms is Certified South Carolina Grown and is hormone and antibiotic free, dry aged and vacuum packed.
List of authorities:
- Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, and Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010; 9. Published online March 10, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/
- Williamson CS, Foster RK, Stanner SA, Buttriss JL. Red meat in the diet. British Nutrition Foundation. Nutrition Bulletin. 2005;30:323–335.
- Simopoulos AP (2008). The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 233(6):674-88.
- Duckett SA (2014). Changes in dietary regime impact fatty acid profile of beef. http://www.bifconference.com/bif2014/documents/proceedings/93-100-Duckett.pdf