Grass-fed Beef: The Ultimate Protein
May 30, 2014 07:10PM
By Mike Crawford
Protein – it’s essential for gaining energy, recovering from a difficult workout and growing muscles. When most people think about including lean protein in their diet, they tend to automatically think of chicken and fish. While those are still valuable sources of protein, red meat shouldn’t be excluded from the list. That’s where grass-fed beef comes in.
Did you know grass-fed beef is on the same level of healthiness as fish? It also contains omega-3 fatty acids but without the heavy metals, such as mercury, that are found in fish. In addition, grass-fed beef has more vitamin B6 than six-and-a-half cups of raw spinach. The nutritional benefits are truly off the charts with higher levels of beta-carotene, iron, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin B12.
Not only is grass-fed beef packed with nutrients, it also is very low in fat, cholesterol and calories. Each serving of grass-fed beef only contains about 140 calories.That means it is healthier than almost any other meat or poultry available. In fact, many athletes regularly consume grass-fed beef as part of their healthy diet, as well as that who participate in the exercise regimen CrossFit.
The reason this meat is so much leaner is because of the way the animals are raised. Grass-fed cattle roam free in pastures and eat only natural foods such as grass and other foliage they find on the land. They are not given any added hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. By allowing the cattle to roam free, the cattle’s diet is healthier and they are allowed to get the added activity they need to produce leaner meat. That’s right – cattle need exercise, too. On the other hand, grain-fed, or grass-finished, cattle are confined in feed lots and eat mostly grain. Their diet and lack of exercise is unnatural and more importantly, unhealthy.
So what’s the difference in taste? Grain-fed beef is greasy and usually not very juicy. Since the cattle are fattened up on a variety of grain or corn byproducts, the beef itself is higher in fat and cholesterol. Therefore, most nutritionists do not recommend this type of meat for a healthy diet. However, grass-fed beef is leaner and juicer, thanks to its higher moisture content. It’s the juiciness that gives the beef its superior flavor without the added fat.
When cooking grass-fed beef there are some differences to pay attention to, due to the meat being so lean. Because of its very low fat content, grass-fed beef cooks much faster and does not take nearly as long to brown or grill the meat. Some say grass-fed beef is not as tender as grain-fed beef, but in reality that is the result of it being dried out and losing its moisture. Be mindful to not overcook it.
Incorporating grass-fed beef as a source of protein can help maintain a healthy diet while also adding variety to protein choices. Beef lovers can still enjoy a quality steak or even a juicy hamburger, just without the added calories, as long as it’s grass-fed. So add this red meat to the list of healthy foods to consume and start enjoying the health benefits of it and more important, how delicious it tastes.
Mike Crawford, is a partner of Chisholm Trail Grass-fed Beef — a rancher-owned and operated cooperative specializing in raising 100-percent grass-fed longhorns on ranches in Texas.