Beef has many beneficial nutrients: protein for building strong muscles, B vitamins to turn food into energy, zinc to boost the immune system and iron, which delivers oxygen to cells to produce energy.
Compared to grain-fed beef, 100 percent grass-fed beef has fewer calories as it is leaner and lower in fat, according to New York Times best-selling author Jo Robinson. She wrote the landmark book, “Pasture Perfect,” and offers the definitive resource on grass-fed meats and dairy, http://www.eatwild.com/.
Grass-fed beef has more beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are the good fats linked to blood pressure reduction, healthy brain function and the slowed growth of cancer. It’s also a source of conjugated lineoleic acid (CLA), which positively affects diabetes, immune function and atherosclerosis.
“What I tell my patients is eating grass-fed beef is what you want to do,” says Waimea’s Vivienne Aronowitz, MPH, RD. The registered dietician, who has a masters degree in public health, adds, “The fat profile of grass-fed beef is healthier than grain-fed beef; it contains beneficial omega 3s.”
No Antibiotics or Hormones
When growth hormones are fed to animals to support profitable weight gain, these hormones are passed on to consumers. Fueled by links of cancer in adults and premature sexual development in children, the European Union (EU) not only banned the use of growth hormones in bovine meat, but also prohibited its importation in 1989. The EU is currently accepting beef under the USDA’s Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) Program. It delivers US meat produced under laboratory-confirmed control methods by approved ranches and feedlots. The NHTC program permits the use of antibiotics.
Justifying the Cost
Aronowitz notes that grass-fed beef is more expensive but consumers should take into consideration that its “better for you, has environmental and sustainability benefits and you know where it’s coming from—it’s not mass produced at a distant location.”
Divulging she’s a vegetarian, Aronowitz concedes that beef “does have accessible nutrients” and can be good for you when consumed properly.
“You don’t need a lot of beef on the plate,” she adds, saying a healthy portion is sized similar to a deck of cards. “Think of beef as part of the meal, not the main focus. Use it to top a salad and in stirfrys.”
Aronowitz, a facilitator with InShape, Hawaii, is offering a class, “Cooking for the Health of It” July 10 in Kona. For info, visit http://www.inshapehi.com.