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What's the skinny on grass fed meats?

Do you eat beef? I chose to, it works for me. In learning many things about my body over the years, I know that it can be helpful for my blood type and as I have learned to listen and eat to fuel my body personally, I know I respond well to this moderate intake. More recently I’ve learned that my body responds to it even more positively when I eat it at certain times in the month as I learn to follow an ‘in the flo’ cycle syncing approach to my nutrition and food as fuel choices.

Beef can be rich in iron, zinc, selenium, vita A, vita E, B12, phosphorus, and magnesium. But the truth is, the way cows are fed can have a major effect on the nutrient composition of their beef.

Have you ever wondered whether the way cows are fed actually makes any difference to your health? Let’s check it out:

Most cows begin living on a pasture, drinking milk and eating grass . But conventionally raised cows are later moved to feedlots (in about 3-14 months). Large feedlots typically keep cows in confined stalls with limited space, and the cows are rapidly fattened up with grain-based feed (typically GMO soy/corn) and may be supplemented with some dried grass. They may be given drugs (antibiotics and growth hormones). Just until a few years ago, it was practice for these drugs to be given to maximize their growth; now there are regulations that require antibiotics to be administered by a veterinarian. These cows typically live in the feedlots for a few months and then are brought to the slaughterhouse and make their way to the market. Conventional practices like this are what is being referred to when you hear about beef production contributing to greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Grass-fed cows are rotated so that the animal is eating grass at heights that are nutritionally at the highest concentrations for much longer than the conventional cows (sometimes 1-5 years). Grasses may include covering herbs, flowers, clover and other legumes, which you may see on a package as ‘pasture’ raised. Cows have a specialized organ called a rumen, which fosters beneficial microbes that convert the cellulose fibers in grass into essential nutrients. Grass-fed beef is higher in antioxidants and healthy omega fatty acids. It’s leaner, healthier and easier to digest. Cows raised on a natural diet develop a strong defense against E-coli. There is also evidence that these cows have less fear and trauma during their lives than their conventional counterpart; they require less veterinarian intervention. These aren’t the only positives, cattle raised on this grazing system, nourish the soil and the deep rooted grasses cycle minerals (calcium, magnesium, and iodine) into the ecosystem and protect the soil from erosion and effects of drought.

Now there is something additional we need to be mindful of when choosing beef. Make sure you look for labels that say 100%, grass fed and grass finished or organic grass fed b/c remember, even the young conventionally raised calves who eventually head to feedlots, were eating grass to begin with. Grain-finished means cows were finished on unnatural, GMO-grain whereas “grass-finished” refers to cattle that were only fed grass for their entire lives, and were never given hormones or antibiotics.

So what’s the skinny: If you choose to have beef in your diet, I recommend you “steer” in the direction of choosing grass-fed, grass-finished beef over conventional beef. In doing this, you are taking a step to proactively eliminate foreign hormones and antibiotics from entering your body from this food source. This is especially important to our proactive well-care; as we know antibiotic resistance is happening too often and can compromise the body’s ability to fight off disease and infections. Grass fed, grass finished beef has a better nutritional profile, is higher in antioxidants, omegas, and vitamins and is leaner, healthier fat that’s easier to digest. It’s worth the extra price to support the farmers who are not only raising healthy, happy cattle, but supporting an ecosystem. If you are choosing beef on your plate, I recommend, time to "moooove" up in quality! Your health and the environment are sure to benefit.

Want more nutritional guidance? Send me a message. As a certified integrative nutritional health coach, it is my passion to share about the bio-individuality of eating habits. One person's food, may be another person's poison. Nutrition and eating for wellness is not a one size fits all. I can support and guide you with understanding food, nutrition, and lifestyle choices that impact your individual wellness. Let's connect.


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SBell Wellness provides natural solutions education, products and health coaching programs to support an integrated approach to health and wellness. Shauna is also a school occupational therapist & youth yoga instructor. 


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