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Grass-fed Beef and Milk Is Healthier

By   /  August 4, 2014  /  6 Comments

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Here’s the Mission of the Union of Concerned Scientists taken from their website. When a scien
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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Stephen says:

    There are some very recent studies comparing ground beef from grass- and grain-fed cattle, both for composition and effects on lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism in human subjects. These studies compare ground beef at the same fat levels to normalize the data, and grass-fed beef always contains more saturated fat (which may not be bad anyway…).
    Also, there is virtually no difference in EPA and DHA between beef from grass-fed and grain-fed beef, and frequently there are only small differences in ALA. The actual report does a nice job describing the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids, but this blog suggests that grass-fed beef is a good source of EPA/DHA. You’ll have to eat the right kind of fish or take supplements for those fatty acids.

  2. Charles says:

    Although I believe grass finished beef and milk are healthier for a number of reasons including their fat profiles I’m not sure I would rely on statements from an organization like UCS, which as ‘advocates’ sometimes seem to reach their conclusions first and then look for research to support those conclusions. I’m afraid this has become an endemic problem in science whichever side of an argument is represented.

    More importantly I think that we grass fed producers need to stop using the low fat argument. If we can’t get a proper finish on our animals we should work on that, not use it as a selling point. After sixty years the lipid hypothesis is finally falling apart. The good new is that saturated fats are good for you and not the cause of either heat disease or cancer.

    The nail in the coffin is the recently released book, The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. She spent eight years interviewing most of the major scientists involved in the development of the lipid theory as well as those opposed and did a detailed review of the research. Her’s is a science based argument and I recommend it highly.

    If this information can reach those vegetarians, vegans and other low fat eaters who are abstaining from saturated fat for health reasons we will be finding ourselves with more customers that we can serve.

    • Kristin says:

      Amen, Charles! There are so many grass fed beef producers that just stop feeding grain. They change nothing else. Their pastures are in terrible condition. They charge low prices and produce a “grass fed” product that is inferior (read: tough & dry) to well finished grass fed meats. And customers are getting a poor, low nutrient product.

      I do wish there was research comparing nutrient levels in these two types of “grass fed/grass finished” products.

  3. Dr. JOhn Comerford says:

    Dear Ms. Voth:

    There is extensive data available with animal and human studies to show grass-fed beef has zero benefit to human health compared to traditional beef. For example, the CLA issue is nothing more than a hoax that has been used to market “better” beef with no justification. In nearly all the cases you presented from the UCS, if one studies the data it shows clearly the level of CLA or DHA or Omega-3 is so low in cooked grass-fed beef it is very hard to detect. In the case of CLA the original rat study by Ha in 1987 used 180,000 times as much CLA as found in a cooked serving of grass-fed beef. This is the study that started the whole CLA fairy tale since 4 of 20 rats with a carcinogenic challenge did not develop tumors after these huge doses of CLA-BUT what we have conveniently forgotten is that 16 of the rats DID get tumors even after having these huge doses. Very similar results are found for the other compounds you listed.

    Dr. John Comerford
    Professor Emeritus
    Penn State University

  4. Mark Ramsey says:

    I think your stretching this article a little using data from a paper that is 8 years old. More recent studies conflict with these health claims and also need to be looked at from a carbon footprint standard as well.

    • Rachel Gilker says:

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for writing. This was meant to be a review of information out there, primarily this report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. We plan on addressing the carbon footprint in upcoming issues of On Pasture. If you have any more information on the topic, please let us know. We’re always interested in learning more!
      Rachel and Kathy

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