Could Red Meat Actually Be Good For You?

You don’t need a health nut to tell you that red meat isn’t great for you. Google is more than happy to serve up a piping hot platter of nutritional wisdom that clearly demonstrates just how bad red meat is. But what if that’s not the whole story? What if our commonly held belief of red meat as a slow, silent killer isn’t exactly true?

What if, and this is going to sound crazy, but what if red meat could actually be good for you?

Of course, it’s only natural if you’ve already started counting how many screws you’d have to lose to believe something so outlandish. For years you’ve been told that beef should be a rare and infrequent guest on your plate. End of story!

Rewriting The Rules Of Red Meat

But that’s not the end of the story. Grass-fed beef is writing a new chapter on the health effects of red meat. A chapter that re-casts red meat as the leaner, better looking, chiseled, healthier hero. Not the villain.

A slew of new studies show big health differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef: 

  • Grass-fed has fewer calories: 100 less than grain fed for a 6 oz steak
  • Grass-fed has more balanced good fats and less mono-saturated fats and other unhealthy fats
  • And grass-fed has twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has cancer fighting properties

The best figure of them all? Omega-3 levels. A recent study found both organic (read: grass-fed) meat and milk contain 50 percent more omega-3 than grain-fed. So grass-fed meat can aid in cardiovascular disease prevention, improve brain function and beef up your immune system.

Even poultry has been plucked from its position in the pecking order and now ranks after grass-fed beef.

Meat Is Why We Are Who We Are

While grass-fed red meat is the clear victor over its grain-fed, fatty foe, that’s not the only reason why red meat deserves to be resuscitated from culinary taboo. Meat was crucial to the development of our species. In fact, cooking and eating nutrient-dense red meat was a driving factor in why our stomachs evolved to handle an omnivorous diet.

According to the expensive tissue theory, meat consumption is the reason we humans have small digestive tracts and big brains. Nutrient dense foods, like red meat, gave our food the horsepower it needed so that our brains had plenty of energy to develop. 

So, Why Is Grass Fed So Much Better?

The reason is simple. The animals are eating food that’s better for them, because they were meant to eat grass. If you could pop the metaphorical hood on the inner workings of a cow’s digestive system, you would find a highly sophisticated work of evolutionary genius. According to author and activist Michael Pollan, it’s a work of genius built for eating grass, not grain.

Greed Trumps Health

The real reason why grain-fed beef exists is to make money. In the 1950s, farmers realized that they reduce the cost of raising beef by feeding the animals grain and corn instead of grass. They succeeded in making beef cheaper, but it was a trade off that cost us quality. Beef got fattier. It had more calories. The animals had to be raised with antibiotics so they could stomach the food that they were eating. The result? Red meat became bad for you.

In an ironic twist of fate, we’ve been carried out of Sinclair’s Jungle on the conveyor belt of modern, mechanized agribusiness. But that’s another story for another time.

A New Chapter

Grass-fed beef’s newfound health benefits rewrite over fifteen years of nutritional gospel. It’s clear that red meat doesn’t deserve to be in the culinary dog house. Grass-fed red meat is healthy and our bodies (and our brains) crave it. 

So, now that we’ve cleared up the beef with beef, who want’s some?

- Josh Ott
Founder, Hamlet Meats
Harlem, NY