Studies have also found a higher level of Vitamin A and E in grass-fed beef compared to grain-fed beef (12).
Vitamin A plays a critical role in immunity, vision, and communication between our cells (13).
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress in the body, and helps promote heart and brain health (14).
Several studies have found grass-fed beef to contain higher levels of the antioxidant called glutathione.
This antioxidant helps reduce free radicals in the body, prevents damage to DNA, and supports nutrient metabolism (15,16).
•Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA):
Research has found grass-fed beef to contain about twice as much CLA compared to grain-fed beef (17).
CLA has been shown to be helpful for reducing fat mass, supporting metabolic health, and lowering the risk for many diseases (18,19).
Does Grass-Fed Beef Taste Different?
Grass-fed beef tends to be leaner compared to grain-fed beef, so it often has a meatier taste.
It may also have a more “gamey” taste compared to grain-fed beef.
Additionally, grass-fed beef may have a yellowish appearance due to the higher levels of Vitamin A.
Is Grass-Fed Beef Worth the Extra Cost?
Depending on where you live, grass-fed beef can sometimes be double the cost of grain-fed beef. That’s because of the additional time and effort required to raise grass-fed cows.
So, is it worth it?
I’d say yes, due to the higher nutrient value. Plus, many people prefer the taste of grass-fed beef compared to grain-fed beef.
There are also several environmental benefits to choosing grass-fed beef, such as (20):
Less greenhouse gas emissions
Improved soil quality
Reduction in water pollution
You can save money getting grass-fed beef by buying from a local farmer or CSA, or shopping at places such as Costco, Aldi, or Trader Joe's.
If you aren’t able to buy grass-fed, choose lean grain-fed beef, since toxins are stored in fat cells.
Ultimately, no matter what type of beef you buy, you’ll still obtain nutrients such as B vitamins and iron, and it will be a better option compared to many of the factory-madeplant-based meats that you see in the stores today.
But Should I Be Eating Red Meat?
Many people avoid eating beef due to the saturated fat content and belief that it is not beneficial to heart health, but research has debunked that myth (21).
Plus, studies that have looked at the association between saturated fat and heart disease have been very weak and inconsistent (22).
Additionally, despite our society reducing saturated fat content, rates of developed health complications have continued to rise (23).
What is beneficial for cardiovascular health? Antioxidants such as omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, which grass-fed beef contains (24,25).
Ultimately, it’s important to look at your diet as a whole, versus focusing on just one food (26).
So, Is Grass-Fed Beef Better? My Verdict:
Grass-fed beef is a highly nutrient-dense food.
If you’re able to buy grass-fed beef and have access to it, I’d say it’s a better option due to the higher amounts of nutrients and antioxidants it provides.
If you aren’t, focus on lean varieties of grain-fed beef, and know that you’re still getting a variety of nutrients.
Autumn Enloe is a registered dietitian in Minnesota. She provides remote nutrition coaching and frequently posts free nutrition content and recipes at her website: www.autumnenloe.com. In her free time she enjoys chasing around her toddler, laughing with her husband, creating recipes in the kitchen, and practicing yoga.