If you’ve been around the planet for the past few decades then you know red meat gets the hairy eyeball from the lab coat community. The World Health Organization just elevated processed meats like cold cuts and hot dogs to the same cancer danger zone as smoking Marlboros. Even non-processed red meat like steak is now labeled as “a probable carcinogen.”
Does that stop you eating steak? Probably not. Does it dull your enjoyment just a little bit? If so, rejoice. We’re about to show exactly why and how grass fed beef comes to the rescue. It’s actually quite healthy in a lot of ways. It may even be on the same health plane as eating fish, so you can relax and enjoy it while you’re digging in.
First, why is red meat such as steak and hamburger “bad?” A lot of the hype comes down to processed meats. Most hot dogs, lunchmeat, bacon, and other processed treats contain a lot of nitrates and nitrites. Those are bad because when we cook them at high heat (read: grill or fry) they break down into compounds that cause cancer just as certainly as ripping butts.
What about non-processed meat? There are some studies that suggest it may cause bowel cancer, mostly because of its fat content. By contrast, lean red meat is thought to be an important source of iron and other minerals.
Here’s where the rubber meats the road: There’s growing evidence that fat is actually good for you. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may actually prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and other ailments.
The key is, there’s a difference between healthy fat and bad-for-you fat, and that’s where grass fed beef comes charging in.
Why Grass Fed Beef is Healthy Beef
According to several studies, it’s not even so much that some fat is bad and some is good. It’s that our bodies evolved to eat fats in a certain balance. Without donning a lab coat and a pair of Buddy Holly specs, we’re supposed to eat a specific ratio of Omega-3’s, Omega-6’s and Omega-9’s. Most Americans get about 30 times more Omega-6 fats than they should, and a lot less Omega-3 fats.
Before we link this up to grass fed beef, here’s why fish is so good for you. The oily ones like herring, salmon, and mackerel are chock full of healthy Omega-3’s. That’s because they eat a lot of smaller fish that eat a lot of even smaller fish that live on phytoplankton, tiny sea animals rich in Omega-3’s.
Now enter grass fed beef. Our caveman ancestors ate it all the time. It’s true their life expectancy tailed off at about age 30, but then they had to work long days chasing bison without the benefit of workers comp. That grass fed meat they ate was lower in fat than ours. Better still, the fat in it contained a much higher proportion of Omega-3’s.
Fast forward to today. We’re eating grain fed steaks that deliver three times more of the bad Omega-6 fats and about 1/4 the healthy Omega-3 fats.
Now switch to grass fed and that bad equation does a somersault. With grass fed beef, you’re not only eating less overall fat, but the fat you do eat has about a third the bad fats and four times more good fats. Is it as healthy as eating salmon? Nope. But it’s about four times healthier than “normal” grain fed beef. Also, the World Health Organization can’t lean over your shoulder while you’re eating it and mutter that it “may” cause cancer. Quite the opposite, studies have shown it “may” prevent the dreaded C.
Grass Fed in a Nutshell
So there’s the rub. The grass fed option can make meat actually healthy again. It can give us the good fats we need to build a well-functioning brain and cardiovascular system. It provides protein, iron and B-vitamins as well. And it does it all while tasting downright delicious.