Good news for beef lovers! A new study suggests grass-fed beef could help protect against heart disease.

Researchers at the Liggins Institute at Auckland University are looking into whether grass-fed Wagyu beef can protect against the disease.

Study lead, David Cameron-Smith told Tim Dower processed red meat has been linked to colon cancer but that's not the case for grass-fed beef.

"Processed red meat clearly does carry a degree of risk so there's been all that research looking at colon cancer and processed red meat."


"But here in New Zealand, we are extremely lucky to have grass-fed beef. In fact, we have the best beef and that's this Wagyu beef and unlike anywhere else in the world, the Wagyu that we eat, or the Wagyu that's available to us in the supermarkets, is a cross with dairy...and it's grass fed, so it makes it completely unique."

"It's the champagne of beef when you compare it on an international scale."

He said the high-fat quantity in grass-fed beef shouldn't be a concern either because it contains Omega 3.

Wagyu cattle. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Wagyu cattle. Photo / Michael Cunningham

"Here in New Zealand, the only way you can get marbled fatty meat is for that animal to be crossed with a breed like Wagyu [and] the unique thing about that meat is that it's really high in Omega 3."

"Grass-fed animals have much higher, double the concentration, of Omega 3 fatty acids and for people who don't eat fish that's their predominant source of those healthy Omega 3 fats."

The fat could also be key to protecting against heart disease.

"In our research with AgResearch, the government agency that's involved in agricultural research around New Zealand, we have identified other forms of fat that are in that marbled meat that may be beneficial to heart disease," Cameron-Smith said.

However, he said that doesn't mean you can start eating steak for every meal.


"It's not true that you can eat meat willy-nilly. Of course, the dietary requirements remain the same, you should eat red meat three times a week and supplement it with other forms of protein."

"But if are going to eat meat, eat the best, it's the stuff that we export, it's the study that's amazing and we are sop fortunte...that we have this healthy red meat."

While processed meat is linked with cancer, he said having bacon once a week shouldn't be of concern.