Why Is Grass-Fed Whey Protein Better than Traditional Whey Protein?
If you’ve bought butter, beef, or dairy recently, you’ve probably noticed a new trend. You can now buy each of these food products sourced from grass-fed cattle, which is believed to be higher in nutritional value, and more environmentally friendly. So, what are those benefits, and do they also extend to grass fed whey protein?
Good questions. Let’s dive in to take a look at why grass-fed whey protein is better than your typical whey protein.
How Whey Protein is Made
First, to set the scene, we need to understand a little about how whey protein is made. Typically, whey is made from cow’s milk, which is separated into a solid and a liquid when it’s made into cheese. The solid (curd) contains the protein casein, and the liquid is whey.
You may have also noticed this with yogurt. Ever wonder why your yogurt looks like it has a layer of water? That’s whey.
Once the milk is separated, the curd can be used to make cheese, and the whey can be dried into a powder and turned into whey concentrate or whey isolate, which we’ve discussed in a previous blog post.
The Benefits of Grass-Fed Whey
Cows originally evolved to graze and eat wild grass. Then mass-industrial farming practices started stuffing them into cramped feed lots, and incorporated corn-feed to lower costs and fatten them up quicker. The problem with this is that the health of the cows deteriorated, as they shifted away from their natural diets, and it’s now estimated that 50-80% of antibiotics are used on cattle to help treat them against infection. With grass-fed organically raised cows, there is a lower risk of infection, and less need to pump them full of antibiotics.
In addition to being fed fewer antibiotics, grass-fed dairy has been shown to have a variety of benefits over traditional grain-fed dairy, and since whey protein powder is derived from dairy, many of those benefits do pass along into the whey.
Higher in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One of the main benefits of grass-fed whey is that it has a healthier fat profile, including more omega-3 fatty acids. You’re familiar with those, right?
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the reasons nutritionists recommend eating salmon 1-2 times a week. Unlike omega-6 fatty acids (which are higher in grain-fed cattle), omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Nutritionists recommend consuming a ratio of 3:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, but the average American consumes a ratio closer to 20:1, and a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids has been linked to a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease.
Higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Grass-fed whey is also higher in a specific type of omega-6 fatty acid which has some particularly positive benefits. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has been associated with moderate fat loss in humans, increased metabolism, and improved cardiovascular health.
So, not only does grass-fed whey protein have a better balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, the omega-6 fatty acids it does have are better for you.
Increased Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is something not a lot of people are familiar with. But it’s been shown to play an important role in promoting healthy teeth, bones and most importantly, heart health. A deficiency in Vitamin K2 is believed to be a contributing factor to the calcium build-up in arteries that occurs in heart disease. If you’re getting enough vitamin K2, your body can more readily pull the calcium into your bones and teeth, and prevent it from building up in your arteries.
And, guess what tends to be a good source of vitamin K2? That’s right, grass-fed dairy products, such as grass-fed whey protein.
Better Treatment for Cows
Aside from the nutritional benefits of grass-fed whey protein, what about the well-being of the source? Free grazing in large green pastures appears to make for healthier cows, which means healthier dairy products for consumers. But, although we can’t ask them to confirm, that lifestyle also likely makes for happier cows.
Let’s put it this way: would you rather be confined to close, dirty quarters, and be forced to eat junk food that makes you feel sick, or would you rather have the freedom to roam with fresh air and nutritious food that you enjoy? When you think about it this way, the answer to why grass-fed whey is better is even more obvious.
So, if you’re looking for a whey-protein product with maximum nutrient composition, that also prioritizes the treatment of the cows, grass-fed whey protein is the absolute best way to go.
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