Is Grass-Fed Beef really worth it?
Dr. Paul Saladino compares the nutrient density and toxicity load of grass fed beef compared to grain or corn fed beef. His entire blog post above is well worth the read, however, here are some key take aways from his findings;
Grass-fed animals had higher levels of vitamin E (denoted in the chart as alpha tocopherol), beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C. Yes! Meat does have vitamin C. Interestingly, if you do the math, grass-fed meat has about 11.3 mg of vitamin C per pound (454g) and grain-fed meat has roughly 7.3 mg per lb. The notion of vitamin C in animal foods deserves a whole post of its own, but the takeaway message here is that fresh meat contains enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy, and many of the other organs such as liver, kidney, and brain contain even more vitamin C than muscle meat. Critics often cite concerns about lack of vitamin E on a carnivore diet (see my response podcast to critiques against the carnivore diet here) but if we do the math, we can see that muscle meat contains a moderate amount of vitamin E. Again, grass-fed is a richer source of vitamin E than grain-fed. When combined with organs and egg yolks, a nose-to-tail carnivore diet can provide more than adequate vitamin E for humans.
Choosing grass fed beef over conventionally raised grain fed beef avoids many of the harmful pesticides that are sprayed on the grains that feedlot cattle are fed. There are water soluble pesticides, like glyphosate (roundup) and 2-4,D, both of which likely end up in the muscle meat of grain-fed animals. Glyphosate is sadly now pervasive in our environment, and we are only just beginning to appreciate the negative effects that it may have on human physiology. There have been a number of recent court cases ruling in favor of defendants claiming that glyphosate exposure contributed to cancers. Dr. Stephanie Seneff has also done a large amount of work which suggests possibly detrimental effects of this compound in our bodies and in our guts disrupting the microbiome.
There are also fat soluble compounds like atrazine, which is sprayed on corn feed. Atrazine can act as a xenoestrogen, a molecule that mimics estrogen in the human body by binding to the 17-Beta estradiol receptor. These are bad news for both men and women. We don’t want compounds like this acting as hormonal disruptors. There are studies showing that atrazine can induce chemical castration in frogs and turn males to females!
So what’s the take home message here? Grain-fed and grass-fed meat are both going be nutritious options as part of a whole foods animal based diet. Grass-fed meat appears to have higher levels of many vitamins including C, E, A, and CoQ10, and will likely have lower amounts of pesticides like glyphosate, atrazine, dioxins and mold toxins.