Grass-Fed Beef: Is It Superior to Poultry?
For over 50 years red meat has been vilified for its heart clogging saturated fat & cholesterol content. Poultry products have been marketed as the healthiest animal protein due to their low-fat content. New understandings of health and inflammation now reveal that grass-fed beef is significantly more nutrient dense than poultry.
Saturated fat and cholesterol have been blamed for heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. Research indicates that saturated fats and cholesterol are necessary for overall cellular health (1, 2, 3). They play an extremely important role in regulating neurological, cognitive and hormone function. A diet low in these important fats causes lowered immunity, sex hormone function and accelerated aging and brain degeneration.
Red meat could be one of the best foods in an individual’s diet or one of the worst. The key factor is what the animal is eating. Naturally, cows eat a near 100% green diet of grass, flowers, shrubs and other wild vegetation. Grain feeding is genetically incongruent for these animals and leads to excessive weight gain and fat accumulation.
The typical grain-feed is made up of corn and soy due to the low cost associated with government subsidies. Grain-fed cows are extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids. The average ratio for a cow on a grain-fed diet is roughly 25:1 (omega 6:3). This is genetically incongruent for all mammal species that should naturally be around 4:1 (4).
The Importance of Omega 6:3 Ratios:
Humans should naturally have an omega 6:3 ratio around 4:1 or 2:1. When these ratios become skewed, they trigger cellular inflammation and accelerated cellular degeneration. This environment causes an individual to become highly inflamed and to build degenerative disease (5).
The more grass an animal eats the greater their omega 3 content and the lower their omega 6 levels. A 100% green-fed diet, which is genetically congruent for a cow would provide an omega 6:3 ratio of 2:1. This is ideal for the cows long-term health and is highly anti-inflammatory for human consumption. The omega 3 fatty acids present in this meat are primarily the all-important long-chain variety EPA and DHA.
The Poultry Based Diet:
Chicken and turkeys cannot live on grass alone. They lack the highly specialized digestive tract that allows them to convert grass and roughage into a quality meal. This is too low in calories and too high in fiber for them. They need some addition to grass and the vast majority of farmers choose to feed them a mixture of soy and grain. Chickens can get about 25% of their calories from grass while ducks can go up to about 50%. The higher the level of grass, the higher the anti-oxidant and omega 3 content of the meat and eggs.
Grass-fed beef and other grass-fed mammals contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is considered to be one of the most potent anti-carcinogenic nutrients. In a study published in Cancer Research, animals given a mere 1.5% of their total calories in the form of CLA had a 60% reduction in tumor growth (6).
Finnish researchers have found that the greater the amount of CLA in a woman’s diet, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Women who consumed the largest amount of CLA had a 60% lower risk for breast cancer (7).
Grass-fed Beef Has More Anti-Oxidants:
Grass-fed mammals are also extremely rich in carnitine and carnosine. Carnitine helps cellular mitochondria drive energy efficiently from fat metabolism. Carnitine is the critical gate-keeper that allows fatty acids to pass into the mitochondrial furnace effectively (8).
Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant that improves muscle, brain & cardiovascular function. It functions to reduce the effects of stress and aging by protecting the proteins of the body which aids in tissue healing and repair (9).
Poultry has significantly less CLA, carnitine and carnosine than grass-fed beef. Beef also contains a lot more branched chain amino acids. This includes the crucial muscle building amino acid leucine. Grass-fed beef has an enormous edge over free-range poultry when one compares the fatty acids, proteins, fat-soluble anti-oxidants and minerals such as zinc.
Grass-Fed Beef Has More of the Following:
1. Omega-3 fatty acids
2. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
6. Vitamin D & E
When Do I Recommend Consuming Chicken:
Pasture-raised chicken is a very healthy food for the body and shouldn’t be discouraged. It just isn’t as nutrient dense as the grass-fed beef. Some individuals find that they feel better consuming chicken rather than beef. This is typically the case with those who:
1. Have low stomach acid production
2. Have a sluggish liver or have had their gallbladder removed
3. Have a food sensitivity to beef
If you are experiencing any of these issues, I would look into the root cause of why this is taking place. There are many reasons why someone would have trouble digesting fats. If you are experiencing this and simply do not feel well when consuming grass-fed red meat, then the following strategies in this article will help you to troubleshoot this issue.
The Most Nutrient Dense Part:
1. The Stock Bones – They are full of bone marrow, collagen rich tendons, ligaments and discs.
2. Liver and Heart – Rich in bioactive CoQ10, L-carnitine, glutathione boosting agents, zinc, key b vitamins and vitamin D.
3. Other Organ Meats: Brain, thymus gland, pancreas, kidney, etc. are all super rich in powerful nutrients. The brain has tons of omega-3 fatty acids but is hard to resource.
You can also do things such as biting into the joint capsule when eating chicken wings. The joint capsule has tons of gelatin and inside the bone is immune boosting marrow. I always do this when consuming chicken wings.
Where to Get the Best Organic Meat Products
Of course, you do get tons of great nutrients in grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken breasts which are the most common cuts that are consumed. However, I would recommend consuming at LEAST one serving of just one of the 3 parts I listed above every month. You could simply have a homemade chicken or beef soup or you could have liver and onions or try some of the other major organs.
If you are battling chronic disease, I would recommend getting at LEAST one serving of these each week and ideally one to two servings daily. The bioactive nutrients in these organ meats and stock bones powerfully dampen inflammation and improve immune coordination and energy production in the body.
You can get some of the highest quality grass-fed, grass-finished beef and pastured poultry along with a wide variety of other fantastic animal products through US Wellness Meats here
Sources For This Article Include:
- Knopp RH, Retzlaff BM. Saturated fat prevents coronary artery disease? An American paradox. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1102-3. No abstract available. PMID: 15531654
- Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Metaanalysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46. PMID: 20071648
- Skeaff CM, Miller J. Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: summary of evidence from prospective cohort and randomised controlled trials. Ann Nutr Metab. 2009;55(1-3):173-201. PMID: 19752542
- Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10.
- Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79. Review. PMID: 12442909
- Ip C, Chin SF, Scimeca JA, Pariza MW. Mammary cancer prevention by conjugated dienoic derivative of linoleic acid. Cancer Res. 1991 Nov 15;51(22):6118-24. PMID: 1933874
- Aro A, Männistö S, Salminen I, Ovaskainen ML, Kataja V, Uusitupa M. Inverse association between dietary and serum conjugated linoleic acid and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(2):151-7. PMID: 11525591
- Bronwell L. Carnitine Restores Cellular Function. Life Extension Magazine. Mar. 2013 Link Here
- Stokel K. Carnosine: Exceeding Scientific Expectations. Life Extension Magazine. Jan 2011 Link Here