Grass-finished beef has a lot of nutritious components and healthy fats that can help increase longevity and lead to a healthy lifestyle, according to Myron Lick, Ruso, N.D.
Lick ranches with his wife, Gerogean, daughter, Farrah, and son-in-law Nick Faulkner, on Ruso Ranch in northwest North Dakota.
Lick, who has conducted research about the health aspects of grass-finished beef, is able to promote his beef as healthy for consumers.
He produces and direct markets grass-finished Angus beef, along with free-range poultry and pork and 10-grain artisan bread.
“For our ranchers, grass-finished beef is big business. The people who are health-conscious and looking for grass-finished beef to purchase is growing pretty fast,” Lick said.
As a member of the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition, Lick talked to producers and others at the group’s annual workshop in Bismarck, N.D. He wanted them to know there are healthy aspects of grass-finished beef that can attract certain consumers who are looking for that type of beef.
Beef contains high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that can only be obtained through food, Lick said.
“Sixty percent of the fat from grass-finished beef is Omega-3s. A cow’s diet rich in green grass is a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and it protects consumers from heart diseases and other health problems,” he said. “The body can’t make Omega-3s. We have to get these fatty acids in food.”
Omega-3 fatty acids are very “heart friendly,” he added. According to research verified through the American Heart Association, people who have ample amounts of Omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat and are 50 percent less likely to have a serious heart attack.
Every cell in the body relies on Omega-3 fatty acids, including our brains, Lick said.
People who eat grass-finished beef and consume a diet rich in Omega-3s are less likely to be affected by depression, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer’s disease, he said, adding research shows that beef raised on grass is also high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, and anti-atherosclerosis (heart disease).
“CLA in grass-fed beef is also showing promise in fighting two deadly disorders – cancer and cardiovascular disease,” Lick said.
In fact, a study showed those who ate the most CLA had a 60 percent reduction in breast cancer, he said.
Grass-fed beef is also shown to be higher in vitamin E, vitamin A and beta carotene vitamin K and has good levels of CoQ10, which prevents heart disease, Lick said.
Passed down the generations
Lick said his grandparents are both in their 80s and have ranched all their lives in Sheridan County.
“They were raised with no electricity, no running water. What gave them longevity is they always raised cattle on grass and had a huge garden, sometimes two gardens,” Lick said.
In addition, their children always had “mother’s milk and whole cow’s milk,” he said. His grandparents ate cheese and cottage cheese made out of whole milk, and the cows were always pastured on grass before being milked.
“You need fat in your diet to absorb vitamin D, and there is a lot of deficiency in vitamin D in the Northern Plains where we don’t have the sunlight all year long,” he said, adding the back fat of pork has vitamin D in it. When his grandmother “rendered lard” from pork, she was also getting vitamin D, Lick said.
“Meat is very healthy for us,” he added.
Vitamin D is also in organ meats, such as liver and heart which, he feels, people don’t eat enough of today.
Grass-fed beef has also been shown to have a higher shelf life than other beef, Lick said.
He also noted a Colorado State University study that is showing eating an ancestral diet that includes grass-finished beef is key to a healthier life.
“We know our ancestors had intelligence and health and we now know how they had longevity,” Lick said.