If there is one point of disagreement between grain feeders and grass finishers, it concerns the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in grass-fed beef. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and hence many of its members, claims the difference is "insignificant" when grain and grass-fed animals are compared.
We were encouraged recently by a new study that may help put the issue to rest. It was released by Dr. Loren Cordain, Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University. You'll recognize Professor Cordain as the author of The Paleo Diet. The research traces the historical and evolutionary origins of the first grass-fed cattle domesticated by hominins some 11,000 years ago to the contemporary practice of large feedlot operations using grain. According to the report, 99% of all U.S. beef consumed today is produced from grain-fed, feedlot cattle. The result is cattle meat with a high saturated fatty acid content, low Omega-3 content and high Omega-6 fatty acid content.
"There is little argument that grass-fed cattle accumulate more Omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues than grain-fed cattle…sufficient 18:3n3 (ALA or alpha linolenic acid) escape the rumen intact and are available for absorption in a variety of tissues, including muscle and liver," Dr. Cordain writes. This is an important point since some published reports have stated otherwise, arguing that the rumen destroys the fatty acids.
"In summary, the concentrations of both ALA and Omega-3 fatty acids are significantly greater in grass produced beef than in grain-produced beef, and when considered on an energetic basis support the notion that increased consumption of grass-fed beef could provide an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids in the U.S. diet." Dr. Cordain adds, "The case for increasing Omega-3 fatty acids in the U.S. diet has broad and wide sweeping potential to improve human health. Specifically, Omega-3 fatty acids and their balance with Omega 6 fatty acids play an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and cancer."
This report confirms what Tallgrass Beef Company has concluded all along: That there is strong scientific evidence to show that grass-fed beef offers remarkable health benefits for the U.S. diet. Add that to the breakthroughs we've made on taste and you've got the hottest new beef product in years—as well as the best news possible for health and fitness seekers.
—Bill Kurtis, Chairman and Founder of Tallgrass Beef Company