Fatty Acid Concentrations in Beef from Grass-fed Cattle

Background and Methodology
Consumption of beef and other red meats is promoted for health benefits because of their vitamins and mineral content, but criticized for the total amount of fat and the high proportion of saturated fatty acids. The objectives of this paper were to determine the fatty acid (FA) content and composition of beef from grass-fed cattle in New Zealand, the variation that was present and factors that influenced this variation. Two experiments were conducted in order to achieve the objectives of this study.

In both experiments there were large coefficients of variation (CV) for trans-vaccenic, cis-9 trans-11 conjugated linoleic, and docosahexaenoic acids and low CV for the saturated (SATFA) and monounsaturated FA (MUFA), and intermediate CV for other FA. The conclusions were that the FA composition of lean grass-fed beef could be changed by traditional means to improve the human health image of beef, but the impact would be small and progress slow.

Knight, T. W., Knowles, S., Death, A. F., West, J., Agnew, M., Morris, C. A., Purchas, R. W. (2003). Factors affecting the variation in fatty acid concentrations in lean beef from grass-fed cattle in New Zealand and the implications for human health. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 46: 83-95.