Health Benefits of Certified Organic Grass Finished Beef

by: Dr. David Anderson, Pulmonologist and MOPC Member

By certified organic grass finished beef we mean beef cattle that meet the standards, including yearly inspections, of the National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture and are raised on hay forage and grass their entire lives and are finished on growing grass before they are marketed.

Health benefits include lower saturated fat content, higher omega-3 fatty acids, more anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, and more conjugated Linoleic acid.

As a result of multiple scientific studies we have learned that it is not only the total amount of fat in foods eaten but also the types of fats present that plays important roles in promoting good health. A 6-ounce steak from a grass finished animal has 100 fewer fat calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain finished animal 1 and the amount of saturated fats as compared to polyunsaturated fats plays an important role in the relative risk of eating red meat such as beef as a risk factor for atherosclerotic vascular disease. Several studies in animal science have demonstrated that high grass intake resulted in higher polyunsaturated fatty acid content of meat from steers whose main food was grass compared to cattle that were grain fed. 2,4 These same studies also demonstrate more omega-3 fatty acids and more conjugated Linoleic acids in grass fed steers. Another study done at the University of Wyoming demonstrated that these benefits are lost when cattle are fed grain on feedlot. 3

Multiple well done nutritional studies have also demonstrated the health benefits of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids in reducing cardiovascular risk when groups of people were given foods high in omega-3 fatty acids versus a standard diet. 5 Almost all of these studies compared fish products which have the long chain n-3 fatty acids ( eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexasnoic acid). Studies such as the Physician