Grass-Fed Beef – Not A Great Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A recent update to the USDA National Nutrition Database provides data on Omega-3 fatty acid composition of grass-fed beef.  This is data that I have been wanting to see for years.

When comparing the Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratios of similar cuts (based on fat content) of normal beef to grass-fed beef there seems to be a difference.  The normal beef has a ratio 8.4 while the grass-fed beef has a ratio of 4.9.  An optimal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids is less than 4 (the lower the better) – obviously, the grass feed beef is much closer to the optimum.

New data on grass-fed buffalo also exists, but shown no significant difference between grass-fed and grain-fed bison.

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for life, but tend to be pro-inflammatory.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for life, but tend to be anti-inflammatory.  A healthy balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids is one of the factors that helps balance your body’s inflammatory state and/or tendency.

Sardines, herring, salmon, and mackerel are some of the fish known for their Omega-3 essential fatty acid content.  For comparison, I checked the ratio on sardines: it is less than 0.1 – a ratio value 40 times better than that in even the best beef.

The Bottom Line:

Sardines and other fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are MUCH MUCH better than beef or bison when trying to have healthy Omega6:Omega-3 fatty acid ratios.  However grass-fed beef has a better fatty acid profile than grain fed beef.  There is not much difference between grass-fed bison and grain-fed bison.  

Be well,


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