If you were to write a list of so-called ‘superfoods’, chances are that beef wouldn’t rank very highly – if it even featured at all. In recent years, beef has had a bad press from health experts convinced that its natural fats are a contributing factor in a range of serious health problems, including heart disease.
But the identification of flaxseed as a food source for cattle could be about to change everything we thought we knew about beef, by infusing it with some exciting health benefits.
Native to Ireland and historically grown here to fuel the linen industry, flax is an inherently sustainable alternative to imported feed products like soya. As a food for humans, flaxseeds and their oil (known as linseed oil once pressed) have well-documented health benefits, being high in Omega 3 and proven to reduce inflammation in the joints and soft tissues. These same effects are being observed in cattle fed with flax – they have fewer musculoskeletal and respiratory ailments, which reduces the need for expensive veterinary treatment and antibiotics, which can eventually impact on the quality of the meat.
Flax has also been shown to positively affect the animals’ demeanour, making them calmer and less prone to stress.
What’s even more exciting is that these benefits could have a knock-on effect for the humans eating flax-fed beef, and also for the planet.
Feeding flax to cattle increases the levels of Omega 3 – which is essential for the health of our hearts, brains, eyes, bones and joints – in beef to levels comparable with that of salmon, while reducing the level of potentially harmful Omega 6 fatty acids in the meat. And as if that wasn’t enough, the overall health and wellbeing benefits to the cattle themselves encourages the expression of their natural marbling genes, improving the texture, succulence and flavour of the finished product.
Last but not least, a diet of flax is shown to reduce cattle methane emissions – affectionately known as ‘cow burps’. Combined with a rotational grazing system, which sequesters carbon in the soil, flax has untapped potential to vastly reduce or even neutralize the carbon footprint of beef – a massive issue in today’s global industry.
Still not convinced? Lisdergan Butchery is the first in Ireland to supply flax-fed Aberdeen Angus. Contact us to discover how this niche product could add wow factor to your menu, and taste the difference for yourself!