The bottom line is that cattle are not “hard wired” to eat grain. Cattle are ruminant animals whose natural diet are grasses.
Studies have shown that a grain diet alters the acidic content of their rumen . This alteration has been shown to have resulted in a virulent, acid resistant, Escherichia coli bacteria species which occasionally results in food poisoning deaths from tainted beef. Grass fed cattle (i.e. cattle that have not been fed grain or finished on grain) have a normal acid content in their rumen and much less likely to harbor this virulent Escherichia coli species [2,3].
In addition, there are numerous other health benefits to grass-fed beef over grain-fed beef:
- Grass-fed beef has a similar fat content to chicken breasts. Research over the last 3 decades shows a more favorable saturated fatty acid (SFA) lipid profile in grass fed beef than in grain fed beef [4,5,6].
- Grass-fed beef has higher amounts of Omega -3 fatty acids, Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and Trans-vaccenic acid (TVA) as compared to grain fed beef [7,8,9,10,11]. Animal studies have shown CLA and TVA to have actions that reduce carcinogenesis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and adipose accumulation [12,13,14,15,16,17,18]. Research has also shown that Omega-3 fatty acids probably help prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis [19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27].
- Grass-fed beef also has higher levels in the precursors for Vit A and E and cancer fighting antioxidants such as glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) as compared to grain fed beef [28,29,30,31,5,32,33,34,35,36,37].
It is Stonnington Farm’s belief that further research will continue to show and highlight the nutritional benefits of natural, grass-fed beef. Keep in mind, the studies which have shown potential detrimental effects of beef were substantially based on grain-fed, feedlot, and growth hormone enhanced beef (as this is the majority of beef available to the consumer)…this cannot be a fair comparison to the beef which is produced at Stonnington Farm.
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