If you follow the health food industry, then you've probably heard about grass-fed beef. Besides the fact that grass-fed beef has a higher price tag than grain-fed beef, a lot of the other differences between these two types of meat aren't often talked about. However, there are many differences between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef, and ultimately, studies show that grass-fed beef is the healthier option between the two.
For cows, the beginning of their lives starts about the same. They exist on a diet of milk and grass when they're little, but as they get older, they will either continue eating grass or be transferred to a feedlot where they are fed mostly grains. Grain-fed cows are often given drugs such as antibiotics and growth hormones, too.
The problem is, the food a cow is fed during their life greatly affects the quality of meat afterwards. The most obvious changes are that grass-fed beef usually contains less total fat than grain-fed beef. Basically, gram for gram, grass-fed beef has fewer calories.
Beyond that, the composition of fatty acids is also different. Grass-fed beef contains less monosaturated fat than grain-fed beef. While grass and grain-fed beef contain similar amounts of omega-6 and polyunsaturated fats, grass-fed beef contains up to five times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also contains twice as much conjugated linoleic acid. Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is known to have more health benefits in comparison to other fatty acids.
So, the short answer is grass-fed beef really is better than grain-fed beef. Not only does grass-fed beef have fewer calories and less total fat, but the fat that is contained in the beef is also all-around healthier for you than the alternative.