The answer to this question is inconclusive. While beef from grain-fed cattle is higher in fat overall, both grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef contain saturated fat, which often is associated with a greater risk for heart disease. However, in grass-fed beef, a higher percentage of this fat is stearic acid, which does not raise cholesterol.
Grass-fed beef also is richer in omega-3 fatty acids than conventional beef, but the amount pales in comparison to that in fish, and it's in a form (alpha-linolenic acid) that may not have the same benefits as omega-3s from fish. In addition, grass-fed beef has more conjugated linoleic acid, which is often claimed to help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. But most of the evidence comes from lab and animal studies, so it's hard to draw firm conclusions about its effect on humans.
Grass-fed cattle rarely require antibiotics, while those raised on grain routinely get drugs. Many scientists believe that the widespread use of antibiotics in animals is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.
* Source: Robert J Davis, PhD, adjunct professor, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, and the author of "Coffee Is Good For You: The Truth About Diet and Nutrition Claims" (Perigee).
** This article is from the Bottom Line/Health newsletter, Volume 27, Number 4, April 3013
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