Grass Fed Beef Vs. Grain Fed Beef – Is There A Difference?

There is no other single food that I consume more of than beef.


  1. It’s incredibly nutrient dense – Highly digestible protein and a diverse micronutrient profile (see below).
  2. It’s convenient – A staple meal of mine in college was eggs and ground beef (impressive, I know), which is quite possibly the easiest thing to make (other than frozen pizza and/or a piece of toast), and you’d be hard-pressed to find a meal more nutritionally complete.
  3. It’s cheap – Ground beef is one of the most economical foods when considering how much highly absorbable nutrients you get per dollar.
  4. It’s tasty – Roasts, steaks, hamburger, YUM!
Source: Beef Cattle Research Council

To take it a step further, many folks often ask if buying grass-fed beef is worth the extra costs.

I can’t answer that question for everyone, as it would depend on your individual values and preferences, but I can say this: there is good data to show that there is a significant difference in the nutritional profile of grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed beef.

For those of us that eat beef regularly, these differences could have a major impact on our health over the course of life.

Both are great foods to include in your diet, but when it comes to nutritional superiority, grass-fed beef wins.

Aside from nutritional considerations, grass-fed beef from regenerative farms also helps restore and maintain fertile soils, which allows the ecosystem to thrive.

What an animal (like a cow or human) eats throughout its life will have a substantial impact on the quality of its tissues and the quantity of nutrients maintained and/or stored in those tissues.

This makes sense, as we know poor nutrition contributes greatly to chronic, degenerative diseases in humans.

While there are certainly some similar nutritional characteristics between grass-fed and grain-fed, there is enough of a difference for me to try to consume grass-fed more regularly.

To Summarize nutritional differences between grain-fed and grass-fed beef:

1.Grass-Fed Has More Optimal Fats (Omega-3 To Omega-6 Fatty Acid Profile)

  • While we need some omega-6 fats, in general, modern humans consume WAY too much.
  • As I’ve explained in a previous post, when we consume too much of omega-6 fatty acids, we see worse health outcomes.
  • Grass-fed beef contains a more optimal balance of the right fats.
  • It’s generally agreed upon that an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of roughly 2-1 is optimal. See table for the ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 in grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed beef.

2. Grass-fed Beef Is Higher In Phytonutrients And Anti-Oxidants

  • Many people believe that fruits and vegetables are the only way to get phytonutrients in the diet. However, grass-fed beef contains a significant amount of these compounds, and a much higher amount than grain-fed beef.
  • Phytonutrients and anti-oxidants are considered to have many beneficial effects on the body, like restoring healthy levels of inflammation.

3. Grass-Fed Beef Has Higher Vitamin Content

In summary, while there are some commonalities between grain-fed and grass-fed beef, there is enough of a nutritional difference to make purchasing grass-fed beef worth it, IMO.

However, I do believe eating ANY type of beef is a great source of nutrients. Thus, if you are including some conventional, grain-fed beef in your diet, GREAT!

I have been able to buy high-quality, grass-fed beef for as low as $5/pound, although more often in the $6-$8 range.

See this post to see where I’m sourcing my beef.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s