There are many health benefits to including beef in your diet that cannot be obtained from other sources. Grass-fed beef is especially beneficial as it contains a greater concentration of nutrients and healthy fats, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, support a healthy brain, reduce depression, cognitive problems, and other mental health disorders.
Vitamins, minerals, and fats found in beef promote good health and lower your risk of disease.
Vitamin B12 is vital for a healthy brain, nervous system, and energy. Beef is a rich source of B12. This vitamin is available only in animal-based foods.
Deficiencies in B vitamins can lead to many health problems, most significantly neurological disorders, and cognitive decline.
Plants contain a B12 analog, but it isn’t the same as true B12. The plant-based B12 can mask a true B12 deficiency, which leads to irreversible nerve damage.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. An even balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the diet drastically lowers your risks of certain diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health disorders.
Omega-3 is created from chloroplasts contained in grasses, so grass-fed beef contains 2 to 5 times more omega-3 than grain-fed beef.
Grass-Fed Meat May Reduce Your Risk of Depression
An Australian study found an association between women who consume little to no red meat and depressive or anxiety disorders. Cattle in Australia are grass-fed, as opposed to the more commonly consumed grain-fed beef in the US.
As we mentioned above, grass-fed beef contains omega-3s, which are fatty acids frequently associated with relieving and avoiding depression.
Diets in the US are usually heavy in omega-6, which are found in high amounts in vegetable oils. The imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 can result in a wide range of mental disorders, including depression, hyperactivity, and schizophrenia.
Natural Trans Fats
Natural trans fats have proven to offer many health benefits. Artificial trans fats found in products containing hydrogenated oils are a stark contrast to these natural, beneficial fats.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a natural trans fat that protects against disease-causing free radicals and is a powerful anti-cancer agent. It supports a healthy cardiovascular system by lowering your risk of atherosclerosis. Grass-fed beef contains two to three times more CLA than its grain-fed counterpart.
Trans vaccenic acid (VA) is also a beneficial trans fat. VA lowers risk factors associated with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It slows the production of chylomicrons, which are fat particles associated with these metabolic disorders.
Heme iron comes from hemoglobin, a protein in the blood that delivers oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Beef is an excellent source of heme iron, which is significantly more absorbable than plant-based non-heme.
Meat proteins help your body absorb iron. Some non-heme plant foods, like soy and wheat, deplete your body of iron and other minerals.
Vitamin A and Other Nutrients
Grass-fed beef is also higher in vitamin E, glutathione, zinc, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium.
Fat-soluble vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, membranes, and vision. It is also essential for fetal development. Deficiencies in pregnant women increase the risks of miscarriage, deformities, and organ defects.
Bioavailable vitamin A is contained in animal fats (butter, heavy cream, and organs like the liver). Butter and liver from grass-fed beef are the best sources of bioavailable A to be found. Plant foods contain beta carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. Beta carotene is less efficient than true vitamin A, and people vary in their abilities to absorb and metabolize it.
To sum this up simply, beef provides a number of unique and efficient vital nutrients that are not found in plant-based foods. Grass-fed beef, especially that which has been raised locally, offers even more significant health benefits.
Jacka F, N, Pasco J, A, Williams L, J, Mann N, Hodge A, Brazionis L, Berk M, Red Meat Consumption and Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Psychother Psychosom 2012;81:196-198
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.