Grass-Fed vs. conventional meat… which is better? Is there really a difference?
The organic/grass-fed vs. conventional food choice may be a new to you, but did you know that studies have shown that grass-fed beef is higher in certain nutrients shown to be important for fertility?
These studies also show that cows who are allowed to roam free and munch their natural diet of grasses are healthier than those raised on a feedlot.
Studies spanning three decades show that grass-fed beef is richer in essential fatty acids, contains more antioxidants, and has a lower fat content compared to grain-fed beef. Lower fat content, better nutritional rating, reduced exposure to environmental toxins, and better living conditions make grass-fed beef a better food choice than grain-fed beef.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid
Grass-fed beef has been shown to have twice the amount of omega-3 essential fatty acid than grain-fed beef.
Omega-3 EFAs contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Low levels of DHA and EPA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues.
DHA is essential for proper brain development, while EPA supports healthy behavior and mood.
Omega-3 has been shown to play an important role for healthy fertility by aiding the body in regulation of hormones, improving cervical mucous production, promoting regular ovulation and reducing inflammation, which may cause painful menstruation.
DHA has a significant impact on the viability and health of sperm. When there are not enough fatty acids present, cholesterol replaces the needed fatty acid in the sperm membrane. This prevents sperm from proper maturation. This, in turn, helps create more free radicals, which damage any healthy sperm that may be present. This is a great segue to talk about the beneficial antioxidants found to be in higher concentration in grass-fed beef.
What creates the abundance of omega-3s in grass-fed beef? A diet rich in a variety of grasses and clover rich in omega-3.
Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from free radical damage. Grass-based diets elevate precursors for Vitamin A and E, and the antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase.
Glutathione plays a key role in the detoxification of pollutants from the liver and the body. It is also one of the most important defenders of a cell’s immune system. Glutathione is involved in regulating the pathway that activates genes that can cause chronic inflammation.
So, in other words, it can suppress the ‘bad’ genes that trigger autoimmune issues. This is valuable to those with autoimmune-related fertility issues such as antisperm antibodies, immunologically-induced recurrent miscarriage, and endometriosis.
Lower Fat Content = Reduced Exposure to GMOs & Xenohormones
A lower fat content means less exposure to fats that negatively affect cholesterol levels, but also to environmental toxins that affect hormonal balance.
The main grain used to feed cattle is corn. Most of the corn in the United States is genetically modified (GMO) and heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers. Many of these toxins are considered xenohormones.
Xenohormones have the ability to mimic our natural hormones. Studies have shown that regular exposure and consumption of these harmful toxins can create hormonal imbalance through endocrine disruption and suppresses immune function, which can negatively impact reproductive function.
When you eat non-organic meats, you are doubly exposed to these toxins. This is because xenohormones become more concentrated as they move up the food chain. Fat cells store toxins and excess hormones. The fattier the meat you are consuming, the more xenohormones you are consuming.
Because grass-fed beef has been shown to have a lower fat content, combined with the fact these cows are less likely to be exposed to or eating these toxins, makes grass-fed beef a superior choice. If that wasn’t scary enough, conventional cows are often raised in overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions needing to be given antibiotics to stave off the spread of disease. Overuse of antibiotics in our food system has been linked to lowered immunity in humans.
Grass-Fed Beef is Better!
So there you have it, grass-fed beef is better for your fertility health than your average grain-fed supermarket beef. Not only does the nutritional profile make grass-fed more popular, but so does the ethical implications.
A decade ago, there were only 50 grass-fed-cattle farms today there are thousands in the U.S. This shows that the demand has greatly increased and for good reason! This makes it easier to purchase grass-fed beef. You can now find grass-fed beef at most supermarkets and farmers markets. Better yet, check with your local cattle ranch to see if they sell grass-fed beef.
Dalene’s Grass-Fed Beef Steak Fajita Recipe
1 lb. grass-fed beef skirt steak
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large sweet bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 tablespoons chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 tsp drizzled honey or agave syrup (optional)
2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
1/4 cup water
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
8 lime wedges
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (for topping)
1 cup shredded raw organic sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
2 avocados, thinly sliced (optional)
8-10 small whole grain flour tortillas or corn tortillas
1. Prep all ingredients. Measure out all spices and put in a bowl. Clean and thinly slice onion and peppers (be sure ribs, stem and seeds are removed). Set aside.
2. In a large cast-iron wok or stir-fry pan add in 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil with burner on medium heat. Once ready, add in sliced onion, peppers and crushed garlic. Stir fry, stirring occasionally, until onions become slightly opaque.
3. While the onion and pepper mixture is sautéing… either grill or pan sear steak first. This means you will need to put a tablespoon of coconut oil in a cast iron pan at medium heat or get your grill ready at medium heat. Salt and pepper skirt steak, both sides. Sear or grill for 3 minutes on each side. Be sure not to burn it! Once done, set aside and tent with foil.
4. Add in all spices with the 1/4 cup water and salsa. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple minutes. During this time, thinly slice skirt steak. Warm tortillas in tortilla warmer or wrapped in a damp (not wet) cloth on a cookie sheet in the oven.
5. Add the steak into the onion, pepper and spice mixture. Drizzle with a little honey. Mix all ingredients together. Salt and pepper a little.
6. Serve in warm tortillas with lime wedges, topped with cheese (optional), avocado slices and fresh cilantro.
Yum, yum, yum!
- Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal, 9(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10. Retrieved from: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-9-10
- Aubrey, A. (2010, April 08). The Truth About Grass-Fed Beef. Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/2010/04/08/125722082/the-truth-about-grass-fed-beef