Pasture vs Conventionally Raised

by Lauren Hixon 0 Comments

There’s a lot of talk about the keto and carnivore diets here at Let’s Truck. With that, come the terms “dirty keto” and “nutrient-dense keto”. While many people are doing better on dirty keto than the standard American (SAD) diet, we ultimately would like for them to make the switch to nutrient-dense foods. The case for beef is no exception.

The old saying "you are what you eat" no longer holds much value. You have to look deeper, "you are what you eat is eating.” When shopping for produce we know that organic is better because it’s not exposed to pesticides, chemical fertilizers, as well as not genetically modified in any way. But what about animal products? Many people think that organic equates to healthy and safe, just like produce. When we see this, we assume the animals are eating healthy, and therefore the meat is healthy too. 

I'm afraid this is not the case with many types of meat, and beef is no exception. In the context of beef, conventionally raise cattle have a very different health profile than pasture raised and finished. Most conventional cows are raised without direct access to healthy green grass which is why they are given supplemental feed. This feed consists mostly of grains that are not a natural part of their diet.

Cattle are ruminating animals that evolved to eat grass and green forages. They were not meant to eat grains, not even the organic option! Unnatural grain-based diets can negatively affect these animals in a multitude of ways, like affecting mineral uptake and disrupting digestive and biochemical processes, all leading to a meat product that isn’t as healthy as one might expect. 

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Specifically, grain-based diets reduce the pH of the digestive system, which inhibits the growth of important bacteria that produces CLA, conjugated linoleic acid, a potent antioxidant that research indicates may aid in fighting against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This means they have less CLA to pass on to the person eating their meat. In contrast, pasture-raised beef has 3 to 5 times more CLA than grain-fed, which is evident in research that shows that Americans consume far less CLA than people in countries where grass-fed is the norm. (1)

Essential Fatty Acids

Now let’s talk about Essential Fatty Acids which are referred to as “essential” because our bodies cannot make them on their own, relying on us to get sufficient amounts via food. While there isn’t much difference in the amount of omega-6 fatty acids found in pastured vs conventional beef, there is a significant difference in the amount of Omega-3s which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Pasture-raised beef contains 2 to 5 times more of the omega-3 fatty acids. (2) It’s the ratio of these omega-3s to 6s that are important as they can keep inflammatory diseases, cancers, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease at bay.

Many generations ago, our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed an Essential Fatty Acids ratio of about 1:1. Due to the popularity of vegetable oils — and the use of corn and other grains to fatten livestock — the ratio has shifted toward more omega-6s. Depending on diet, average ratios are now estimated to range from approximately 15:1 - 17:1 (3). What does this mean to you? You need to increase your omega-3 intake if you want to steer away from inflammatory diseases, and pasture-raised beef is an excellent way to do that.

Other Nutrients  

Pasture-raised beef contains more vitamins and minerals than conventional. Carotenoids like beta-carotene, which are essential precursors to vitamin A, are higher in pastured animals. Other notables are higher amounts of vitamin E, catalase, and glutathione. Much research and growing interest in glutathione have revealed it to be the most critical life-giving molecule and detoxifier which is why we want to make sure we are getting plenty in our diets. And finally, pasture-raised beef is a much better source of vital trace minerals like zinc, iron, and phosphorus. 

Another critical thing to realize is that grain-fed beef is almost always produced in feedlots. It is not uncommon to find more than 100,000 head of cattle crowded into a single feedlot. In addition to unnatural diets, they are injected with growth hormones and prophylactic antibiotics, because the feedlot owner cannot risk an animal getting sick and infecting thousands of others. In many cases, these pharmaceuticals do not clear the animal's body before harvest and end up on your dinner plate to be ingested by you. 

So, for the sake of your health and that of your family, always choose pasture-raised beef over grain-fed. Better yet, make sure it’s organic pasture-raised. A great source of grab-and-go grass-fed beef are the Paleo Valley beef sticks found in the Let’s Truck store. Try one of the five flavors and enjoy both health and convenience. 





    Lauren Hixon
    Lauren Hixon


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