Does Cooking Grass-Fed Meat Destroy its Fatty Acids?
Many of us see grass-fed and grain-fed labels when shopping for beef. We’ve looked at the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed, and asked experts what’s more healthy, but recently we received another question about the topic from one of our readers.
Danny asked, “Many consumers say they want grass-fed meats because of higher concentrations of the fatty acids. But doesn’t cooking the grass-fed meats destroy these fatty acids? Has there been testing done to show there is a difference?”
To answer Danny’s question, we reached out to Dr. John Comerford, associate professor of animal science from Penn State University.
Dr. Comerford: “The fatty acids in beef of any kind tend to melt before they are ‘destroyed.’ With that in mind, we know conjugated linoleic acid or CLA (these are the ‘fatty acids’ generally promoted in the grass-fed product) is generally four times higher in raw grass-fed beef, but studies done by Duckett (2009) have shown that, after cooking, there is virtually none in either grain-fed or grass-fed beef.
“Total fat content, fatty acid content and saturated fat content of steaks is highly correlated with the marbling score of beef, from studies we have done here at Penn State (Steinberg, 2009), not from the difference in grass-fed or grain-fed beef. Once the meat is cooked, there are many other significant variables that must be considered, not just the initial fat content.”