What’s The Beef? Red Meat…Eat The Good Stuff

We are all trying to find ways to improve our health from our diets to our physical activity. Would I be crazy to tell you that you no longer have to swear off red meat in order to stay healthy? I am going to give you the skinny on how to enjoy your meat and how to let your body enjoy it too.

1) Grass Fed vs Grain Fed:

If you have spent anytime in the world of nutrition in the past few years then you have most likely heard of grass fed beef. What does this really mean? Most cattle in the US are raised in feed plots, which provide cattle with a steady diet of cheap-corn based feed that quickly raises the weight of the cattle. In this case…more weight = more fat marbling, which equals more flavor and a higher grade of meat. It also means that this type of meat is not the highest on the “good for you” nutrition scale.

Grass fed cattle are a little different story. These cows graze in open pastures all day on a steady diet of grass, which results in a couple of things. These cows are overall a healthier type of cattle with more health benefits. Each cut of meat will tend to be less fatty as the cows are moving around the pastures all day. This type of meat will generally be darker in color and will provide a more nutty and earthy flavor in comparison to grain fed cattle. Grass fed meat has also been show to have higher levels of heart healthy fats like Omega-3’s, but I wouldn’t rely on it as your main source.

“If you eat a typical amount of beef per year,” Robinson points out in Pasture Perfect, a book about the benefits of pasture-raised animals, “which in the United States is about 67 pounds, switching to grass-fed beef will save you 16,642 calories a year.”

2) Organic Beef vs Non-Organic Beef:

It is important to note here that Organic Beef does not mean that the delicious piece of succulent steak you are currently enjoying is grass fed beef. Organic meats are known for having a much better nutrition profile than it’s non-organic counterparts. These include:

–No Added Hormones or Antibiotics: Hormones that are added to cattle feed to make them bigger and “more desirable” have been associated with early onset puberty in young ones and some types of cancers. The addition of antibiotics has been associated with some types of bacteria resistance…even the good bacteria that helps with overall digestive health.

–Organic Beef is Traditionally Less Fatty: Since most organic cattle is raised on healthier diet, where the goal isn’t to try and fatten up the cattle as quick as possible, these cows tend to be leaner and therefore many cuts are healthy compared to their non-organic relatives. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE, so make sure to turn to grass fed and free range cattle for the leanest cuts of meat. Most organic cattle has a different taste than traditional meats that you would find in your typical supermarket, which I personally think is much more clean and pure.

–Less…bad stuff: The overall health benefits of organic meats can be very beneficial to the human diet. Just like a human that eats a clean diet, a cow that consumes a healthy array of foods will contain less toxins and therefore will be or more benefit to our daily diets.

3) What Cuts Make The Cut?

So, you are ready to eat some meat? First, let’s use some of that hard earned money to buy some quality food. Seek out a local butcher or venture to your nearest natural grocer to ensure you are getting a quality product and served by somebody that knows their stuff! Our leanest cuts of meat are going to be our eye of round, top round, sirloin (top), bottom round, sirloin side steaks. Ask your butcher what the freshest selections of the day are as well…fresher is better! Put their knife skills to the test and have them trim all excess fat off of your day’s selections. Try marinating your meats to make them more tender and to give them that extra bit of decadence.

Happy Grilling!

Check out these links below to find some fantastic beef recipes for you to try this summer: