Beef cattle spend the first nine months of their lives grazing on grass and nursing with their mother. It is the second half of their lives, however, that is key in the nutritional value of your hamburger. Off pasture for a year before they reach your table, the cattle begin to replace the healthy Omega-3 fats in their tissues with a less healthy variety. It is the Omega 3 fats that are critical for the health of your brain and your heart; EPA and DHA are two key types of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
In a 1993 study in The Journal of Animal Science, Duckett and colleagues found that the heart-healthy Omega-3 EPA and DHA declined by half in just one month on a grain diet. By six months on grain, that steer’s steak and burgers had virtually no Omega-3 fat.
It is important to note that even though Omega-3 fatty acids are present in the muscle of a grass fed steer, that steak is not an Omega-3 super food.
A 100 gram steak (about 3.5 ounces) from a grass fed steer has about 100 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. Check out the list below of fish and seafood highest in Omega-3s. Even the lowest has ten times more Omega-3 than the beef.
Grass fed beef does help my goal of reducing the overall ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in my diet, but it is not a replacement for a good source of fish, particularly wild fish.
If you are interested in brain-building Omega 3s, you may be interested in our brain-building Good Day Strategies series. Learn more here.
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