‘You are what you eat‘ – so the saying goes. Nutrition is held responsible for many health problems. For example, food of animal origin is often charged with contributing to cardiovascular diseases.
But ‘you are what you eat’ also applies to animals. Scientists have long investigated the impact that the feeding of animals has on the micronutrient composition (fats, vitamins and so on) of meat. Studies show that feed consisting mainly of grass, hay and grass silage has a positive influence. The nutritional profile of meat from grass is healthier.
Meat production based on grassland is not only ideal for the alpine pastures but also has positive effects on the nutrients in the meat. (Photo: Suckler Cow Switzerland)
About fatty acids, cholesterol levels and how meat from grass can help
One generally makes a distinction between saturated, simple unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Certain saturated fatty acids can raise the cholesterol level in human beings.
Of the three unsaturated fatty acids that mainly occur in beef, stearic acid is the most common in meat from grassland-based production, and this has no demonstrable impact on cholesterol levels in humans. Moreover, the cholesterol content in meat from animals that are mainly fed on grass is generally lower, because the intramuscular fat content in the meat is lower than with other feed.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are among the polyunsaturated acids that the human body cannot produce itself and must therefore be ingested through food.
Depending on the interrelationship of these fatty acids to each other, they can lead to inflammation reactions in the body or prevent or inhibit inflammations. In particular the quantity of Omega-3 fatty acids is decisive. They can play an important role in auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, the formation of nerve tissue or the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
If one compares meat from production based on concentrated feed with meat from grassland-based production, the Omega-3 content with grass feed is clearly higher and thus the fatty acid pattern significantly more advantageous.
Research has clearly shown that the content of Omega-3 fatty acids in meat increases the longer the animals spend on the pasture and the more diverse the flora. (Photo: Martin Freund)
Grass-based feed has a positive impact on the vitamin content
The positive influence of grass-based feed on the meat quality is not limited to fatty acids. The concentration of many other nutrients depends on the feed. Accordingly, the content of carotenoids, the forerunner of vitamin A, as well as of vitamin E in meat from grassland-based production, is significantly higher.
Both vitamins must be ingested by human beings through food, and are important components of a healthy metabolism. Among other things, vitamin A plays a key role in promoting both healthy bone growth and healthy vision, as well as strengthening the immune system. Vitamin E, on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant and protects the cells of the human body against damaging influences.
If you are wondering why the fat in your Natura-Beef steak has a yellow tinge, be happy! Natura-Beef is meat from grass, and the higher carotenoid content is reflected by the fat.
Give yourself a treat –buy Natura-Beef – meat out of grass!
Sources: The original article by Luana Speiser first appeared in «die Mutterkuh» 4/20.