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Grass Fed Beef vs Grain Fed Beef

on September 05, 2015
Most people are unaware of the difference between grass fed beef and grain fed beef.   There is a difference in nutrition, where these two are concerned. Studies have proven that nutrition values depend on what the cattle has eaten throughout their lives.   It is vital to know what your food has eaten during the course of its life. Most people are under the impression, that all cattle graze and feed on only grass. However this is false, in today's time farmers are feeding cattle grains for a number of reasons.    

What Is The Difference Between Grass Fed Beef and Grain Fed Beef?

  When a calf is born, they all drink milk from their mothers, like any other animal. The calves drink only the mother's milk for about 6-12 months.  

Grass Fed Cows:

  These cows are raised the conventional way. They are allowed to venture and wander about large grasslands or grassy enclosures.   They feed on grass or any other edible plants at their disposal. There are also a variety of different grasslands of which farmers use to feed their cattle.   They are commonly known as organic, free range and pasture-raised.   Free range and pasture raised- this means that farmers raise their cattle in non claustrophobic enclosures and they aren't restricted to any feedlots.   Organic- the definition of organic fed cows refers more to their diet. These cows are allowed to wander about and are not restricted to a specific enclosure. These cattle eat only organic grass, sometimes organic grains. These cattle are also not exposed or given any growth hormone drugs, pesticides and antibiotics.   Farmers who grass feed their cattle, generally believe in the philosophy of raising their cattle the natural way.   That is by allowing them an ample amount of grazing fields, exposing them to sunshine, fresh air, green pastures, water etc.  

Grain Fed Cows:

  Majority of today's cows are raised by farmers who are feeding their cattle grain.   When the calves are born, they are allowed to drink milk from their mothers, once they have been weaned off the motherвАЩs milk- usually at around 6 months. They are moved and placed in pens.   These cattle are then given grain to feed on. The grain that they feed on is mainly made up of corn and soy.   This is an unnatural diet for cows, these cattle also see very little of grass and some don't even see any at all. These cows have very short lives, they reside in these pens for around 14 months and then they are sent off to get slaughtered.   Think of it as you living and eating only ice cream, cake and biscuits for the remainder of your life. That is the life and diet of a grain fed cow. Most cattle do enjoy the grain feed, although it is unhealthy for them. The grain feed also fattens the cattle.   Grain fed cows are also given drugs to fatten them up. They are exposed to hormone growth drugs and antibiotics. These drugs cause them grow faster and contribute to their weight gain.   Antibiotics are also provided for these cows, which allow them to survive in unsanitary conditions.   It is for all of these reasons that vegans choose an animal free diet and also disagree on the way that these cattle are raised.    

Nutritional Information On Grass Fed Cattle

  All red meats should be included in your regular diet and they are all excellent sources of iron, protein and vitamin B12. However grass fed animals are definitely a healthier option than grain fed animals.  

HereвАЩs Why:

  Grass fed beef contain less amounts of trans fats (unhealthy fats) than grain fed beef. Studies have also shown that grass fed beef contains high levels of omega 3 (healthy fats).  

Omega 3

  Omega 3 is the best healthy fat. Omega 3 is a vital nutrient. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who lack omega 3. Omega 3 assists with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.   Omega 3 also prevents and works as a treatment for depression.   Omega 3 is beneficial for ADHD. It has a positive impact on concentration levels and improves memory.   Omega 3 also lowers the risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease and asthma.   When cattle are placed in pens and begin to feed on grain diets, they lose the omega 3 fatty acids that are stored within their bodies. Grain fed cattle begin to store unhealthier fats.   These unhealthy fats can cause the cholesterol levels to increase and it can also increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases while healthier fatty acids decrease your risk of such conditions.  

Conjugated Linoleic Acid:

  Grass fed beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid.   Conjugated linoleic acid prevents certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.   Conjugated linoleic acids also assists with lowering the blood pressure. This is extremely beneficial for people who suffer from high blood pressure.   Conjugated linoleic acid is beneficial for obesity. It has decreased fat in people who were suffering with obesity. However conjugated linoleic acid does not reduce the BMI (body mass index) or the weight.   Conjugated linoleic acid could possibly reduce the hunger levels which is beneficial for weight loss.  

Vitamin E:

  Grass fed beef also contains more vitamin E.   Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, it also has many wonderful health benefits.   Vitamin E prevents damage to body tissues caused by substances that are called free radicals.   These free radicals cause damage to the tissues, organs and cells.   Vitamin E also boosts your immunity and effectively fights off viruses and bacteria.  

Vitamin A:

  Grass fed beef is also higher in Beta carotene. Beta carotene is a nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is beneficial for the bones, vision, reproduction and cells.   Vitamin A also supports the creation and functions of white cells in your body.   Grass fed beef is also higher in protein and it is more lean than grain fed beef. Grass fed beef also improves the insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.  

Micronutrients:

  Grass fed beef contains more micronutrients than grain fed beef such as: potassium, phosphorus, zinc and sodium.    

What Are The Benefits Of Grain Fed Beef?

  Although grass fed beef might be healthier than grain fed beef, grain fed beef still has some health benefits such as:  

Iron:

  Iron is a vital nutrient for people of all age groups. An iron deficiency can result in extreme lethargy and fatigue.   Iron is also responsible for the production of hemoglobin, hemoglobin carries oxygen to the blood cells. Sufficient oxygen is required for the body daily, in order for your body to function normally.   Iron is also beneficial for the muscles and brain health. Iron effectively carries oxygen to the brain so that it can function normally and maintain its health.  

Zinc:

  Zinc is a vital mineral that is required in your daily diets. Children require more zinc than adults. Zinc supports the immune system and it is beneficial for healing wounds.   Zinc also promotes cell division, DNA and metabolism.   Zinc also aids in digestion and it is required for growth- which is highly beneficial for children. It also controls diabetes and effectively reduces the stress levels.   Zinc is also beneficial for children who are suffering with ADHD.  

Selenium:

  Selenium is a mineral which has many health benefits.   Selenium boosts the immune system and fertility for both women and men. Selenium is also good for your metabolism.   Selenium also has antioxidant properties, which protects the cells from damage.  

Vitamin B:

  Vitamin B is another vital nutrient for your daily diet. It also has many wonderful health benefits. Beef is a rich source of vitamin B3, B6 and B12.   These nutrients are beneficial for reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases, erectile dysfunctions and kidney disease.   Vitamin B also significantly increases your energy levels and drastically improves the mood.   Vitamin B also assists with mental illnesses as it improves concentration levels. It is a vital nutrient for elders as it helps prevent Alzheimer's disease.   Vitamin B also assists with strengthening the bones and maintaining good vision.    

The Disadvantages Of Grain Fed Beef

  Beef is in demand so farmers have to grow their cattle quickly so that they are sent to the butchers quickly.   By placing them in pens or feedlots, they get fatter and grow faster due to the grain feed and the hormonal drugs. This is also because they are sold in large quantities to butchers.   Cattle were created to graze and grass is a vital part of their diet. Without, some cattle become ill and are then given more antibiotics to assist them.   These antibiotics and hormonal growth drugs are not only unhealthy but dangerous as well.   Pens and feedlots are also over crowded and get polluted much faster due to all the waste and dirty water.   If you are on a strict weight loss diet, you might also want to consider purchasing grass fed beef. Grain fed beef contains more calories and trans fats (unhealthy fats) than grass fed beef.  

Is There A Difference In Pricing?

  Generally grain fed beef is more affordable than grass fed beef being that theyвАЩre cheaper to raise than grass fed cattle. Corn is very cheap which is why many farmers and industrial farms have resorted to grain feed.   It also depends on your store, country and time of the year.   Wherever you are located, grass fed beef will definitely be more costly.   Price is one of the main reasons as to why more grain fed cattle is being consumed.  

Is Grass Fed Beef Accessible?

  In some countries, grass fed beef might not be accessible and people usually have to travel long distances to purchase grass fed beef.   Some people feel that this isnвАЩt worth the inconvenience and cost so¬†they are resorting to grain fed beef unfortunately.  

Is There A Difference In Taste?

  There is just a slight and subtle taste between the two but overall thereвАЩs no major taste difference.   Grain fed beef is juicer than grass fed beef and it has more fat as well. Grain fed beef is also much thicker than grass fed beef. However, grass fed can be just as juicy, provided it is not overcooked.   The best way to find out which one you prefer is by trying both of them.  

Is Organic Beef The Best Option?

  There are strict guidelines for raising cattle the organic way in order for beef to receive the organic label.   Organic beef or cattle must be born and raised on green pasture lands with no exposure to pesticides, fertilizers or any other amendments.   Their feed must also not consist of any animal by-products. In the event the cow should fall ill and it is given antibiotics as a treatment, it will no longer be considered as organic beef.   Organic bred cattle must also have unlimited outdoor access, which means large enclosures to allow grazing. These pastures must be organic certified. Their feed must also be organic certified.   Organic beef is also a healthier option because it contains no preservatives, artificial colorings or artificial ingredients and even flavorings. The organic beef is also minimally processed, which definitely makes it a healthier option.    

Organic beef is also eco-friendly:

  Raising cattle the organic way keeps our environment clean. Farms that raise cattle organically, use manure to fertilize the soil. While cattle is placed in pens, there is an overload of manure. This causes air pollution, which is harmful to human health.   The saying "small farms use it, industrial farms pollute with it" couldnвАЩt be more accurate.   Pesticides are involved in grain feed. This is harmful for the cattle as well as the environment.  

Mad Cow Disease:

  Some of you have probably heard of such a disease. Mad cow disease is scientifically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).   Mad cow disease affects the brain and nervous system of the cow. This results in the cow acting strangely. The disease has been known to effect the walk, behavior and overall normality of the cow.   Mad cow disease is basically a mental illness. Most people suspect that mad cow disease is caused by cows consuming animal by-products.   Such products have been banned and cattle gets tested for the disease.   Some non-organic cows are consuming these by-products:   пВЂ Oils, grease, fats and tallow (from other cattle and other species) пВЂ Gelatin (from hooves of cattle and other animals) пВЂ Horse protein пВЂ Pork protein пВЂ Poultry by-products   For cows that are organically raised, there is no animal by-products in their feed.  

How Does Mad Cow Disease Effect Humans?

  Mad cow disease in human form is called Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This disease can be dangerous and fatal.   To prevent people from contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the spinal cord and brain materials are extracted from cattle, especially from those who are showing symptoms of mad cow disease.   Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is very difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are usually depression, dementia and other neurological issues.  

Pens And Feedlots Are Cruel To Cattle

  Besides the pollution of these pens and feedlots, these pens are inhumane and cruel to cattle.   The pens are usually quite small and overcrowded. Picture yourself being placed in a small room with hundreds of other people. Some infections are contagious and this leads to the passing of infections among the cattle which then results in them receiving more antibiotics.   These small pens also minimize fresh air for the cattle, which is a basic need for them too. In organic pastures, they are free to wander about in uncrowded enclosures.   Organic raised cattle also get sufficient sunlight and exercise as well.    

Fewer Chemicals Are Used On Organic Farms

  According to the rules and regulations of the organic certifications, no synthetic pesticides are allowed to be placed on the pastures or in their feed.   This makes organic beef much healthier.   One of the very few disadvantages of organic beef is, cattle raised the organic way feed mainly on grass. Therefore they grow much slower than grain fed cattle.   This also makes it more difficult to purchase organic beef. Time is money.  

How Can You Be Certain That You Are Purchasing Grass Fed Beef/Organic Beef?

  Determining whether you are purchasing real grass fed beef and organic beef can be quite tricky.   The best way is to check the label of the beef that you are purchasing at your local store.   If your store doesn't stock any grass fed beef, check online to see if there is a store nearby that sells grass fed beef.   You can also check online for organizations such as the USDA organics. These organizations certify organic beef products. By doing this, you can determine what labels to look out for when purchasing grass fed beef and organic beef.  

Conclusion

  The bottom line is: grass fed beef is more beneficial for your health and the health of cattle.   I would agree that going the extra mile and paying a few dollars extra for not only healthy but excellent quality beef is well worth it.   I'm sure you've heard the saying "you are what you eat". This saying is applicable to cattle as well.   As I said earlier, cows were created to eat grass and graze; therefore their digestive systems are not evolved to digest grain feed.   Cattle have a digestive organ which is called rumen, the rumen has the ability to digest grass, the corn that is present in grain feed is very rich and starchy. The rumen finds it very difficult to digest and adjust to this.   The rumen also begins to expand once they are fed grain feed, this presses against their heart and lungs. This could result in the cow suffocating.   This also results in many cattle contracting diseases that are linked to indigestion and bloating as well. This inevitably leads to higher dosages of antibiotics in order for these cows to digest the grain feed.   Think about it like this: if the majority of people turned to grass fed beef and supported organic farms avoiding grain fed, it would ultimately lead to the better treatment of the cattle.   Therefore farmers might be forced to raise their cattle the natural way, which is less cruel to these animals.   The good news is: organic farms and more farmers are beginning to adopt the traditional method of raising cows. During the years 2002 to 2011 the numbers have drastically increased. These numbers are still on the rise.   With the number of farms raising cattle the natural way increasing, grass fed beef will be more accessible and hopefully, in time, less costly too.
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