Well known to be as luxurious as truffles and caviar, Wagyu beef is now one of the most demanded meat products in fine dining. Known for being extremely tender and fat, this steak graces many Michelin-starred menus around the world. However, most people do not realize that although it is a delicacy, Wagyu beef also has many health benefits that come with it.
What is Wagyu?
Wagyu is a breed of cattle that is known for its high-quality marbling. Wagyu beef is considered to be some of the best beef in the world due to its intense umami flavor, intramuscular fat, and buttery texture.
The Wagyu breed is native to Japan. The word “Wagyu” (和牛) means Japanese cow in English, and actually refers to four specific breeds of Wagyu cattle: Japanese Brown (赤毛和種 Akage Washu), Japanese Black (黒毛和種 Kuroge Washu), Japanese Shorthorn (very lean and only in Japan), Japanese Polled (very small numbers, only in Japan). While these are the four original breeds that comprise all modern-day Wagyu beef, cross-breeding has occurred in Japan and the United States. The United States produced Wagyu cattle through a joint venture with the Japanese government in 1989 that created most of the American Wagyu Beef that we know.
To take matters further, Wagyu farmers feed their cattle on specific diets. These support the growth of this intramuscular fat, which leads to them having a higher fat content than a standard beef cow. What you might not realize, is that monounsaturated fat (MUFA), is considered “good fat.” which is one of the reasons behind the range of health benefits that come from eating Wagyu beef.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids are essential to having a strong body, but did you know they are not only found in fish and nuts but also in Wagyu? Wagyu beef is packed with all the essential amino acids, including all the omega-3s and omega-6s. Let’s break down some of the functions and benefits of these fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids
- Essential in building strong cell walls in the heart, lungs, and brain.
- Can lead to improved brain function and lung health.
Omega-6 fatty acids
- Assists in clearing “bad” cholesterol from your body.
- Brain health
- Staying awake
- Avoiding depression
Guidelines for Eating Monosaturated Fats
In order to function properly, your body needs to eat some fat. Monounsaturated fats are a healthy choice. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should eat fats according to the following guidelines:
- No more than 10% of your total daily calories should come from saturated fat and trans fats (found in processed foods).
- Out of a 2,000 calorie diet, the total amount of calories from saturated and trans fat should be 140 to 200 calories or 16 to 22 grams per day.
- Keep total fat consumption to no more than 25% to 30% of your daily calories. This includes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Health Benefits of Wagyu Beef
As mentioned, Wagyu beef is healthy and packed with monounsaturated fatty acids. It is also packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals like iron. You will also find that Wagyu beef supplies a lot of B vitamins. This comes from feeding the cows healthy grains and allowing them to slowly gain weight.
1. Wagyu Cattle Are Raised in a Stress-Free Environment
Wagyu cows are also known to be treated humanely. Starting off their lives grazing on their mother’s milk, following with green pastures, and eventually a corn-fed diet. They are given massages and listen to classical music in order to live a stress-free life. Once they are ready for transport, travel time is short and is done at a minimum scale to ensure a stress-free environment. Ensuring this stress-free setting works to maintain lower cortisol levels. This plays a key role in how Wagyu gets its great taste and flavor.
Excessive cortisol levels released during stress can potentially inhibit physiological systems and result in a number of issues as well as hurt the quality of the finished product.
2. Contains Healthy Fat
You may have heard about “good fat” and “bad fat”. The main difference is saturated versus unsaturated fats. These both directly affect cholesterol levels, with saturated having a negative effect. Because Wagyu contains a high concentration of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), at a rate of almost 300% more than normal beef. Your body can break these down more easily.
Because of its marbled fat, all Wagyu beef has a higher concentration of MUFAs than all other types of beef. MUFAs are also found in nuts and olive oil. Additionally, 40% of the fat in Wagyu is known to have stearic acid. This has less impact on cholesterol levels than traditional beef fat. Eating meat that is high in MUFAs is seen as healthier than lean meats.
3. Lowers LDL
Monounsaturated fatty acids (also referred to as MUFAs), also work to reduce the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the body. In Wagyu, the ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats is higher than you will find in almost any other type of meat.
Reducing LDLs is important because they work to transport cholesterol throughout the body. Sometimes they push cholesterol onto your artery walls, which can lead to heart disease.
4. Increases HDLs
On the other end, Wagyu increases the number of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). HDLs carry cholesterol to your liver, which allows the liver to metabolize it, and eliminate it from your body. This means that indirectly, eating Wagyu may be able to reduce your chance of heart disease.
5. Contains CLA
Conjugated linoleic acid, also known as CLA, is another fatty acid found in Wagyu beef. CLA is often sold as a supplement and can be helpful with weight loss and heart health.
6. Decreases Risk of Heart Disease
Due to the high percentage of monounsaturated fat, Wagyu has levels of cholesterol lower than all other types of meat (surprisingly even lower than fish or chicken) There is also less saturated fat than other beef due to containing the enzyme delta 9-desaturase. This enzyme uses stearic acid (a saturated fatty acid) and transforms it into oleic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid). An interaction that can lead to a decrease in the risk of heart disease and stroke.
7. Potential for Weightloss
When it comes to nutrition, all fats provide 9 calories per gram of energy, while a diet of protein and carbs only offer 4 calories per gram. Therefore, reducing the amount of fat in your diet has long been a method of effectively reducing calorie intake and losing weight.
In the last few years, it was found that a diet with moderate-to-high amounts of monounsaturated fats may be able to help with weight loss. In fact, according to one study, a “diet high in MUFA promoted benefits on weight loss and body composition in women with obesity“. Additionally, it was found that diets high in MUFAs led to weight loss similar to what occurred in low-fat diets. This is also the mentality of the Keto diet. It is good to note that high-MUFA diets (like those with Wagyu), can be an effective method of losing weight, as long as you replace current calories and do not add more to the diet.
Protein also plays an integral role in maintaining a healthy and nutritious. Among other benefits, having sufficient protein can aid in sustaining energy, building muscle strength, and can keep you full for longer periods of time. Because Wagyu beef is loaded with 22 grams of protein (in a four-ounce serving), it can be a great option for those looking to be health conscious and watch their weight.
9. Wagyu Just Tastes Better
Due to its unique marbling, Wagyu beef just tastes better. Monounsaturated fatty acids also have a lower fat melting point. This leads the beef to have a smooth and tender feel. Not only will you enjoy the steak more, but you will be consuming more iron, healthy fats, and be at a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes. You may even find that you are losing extra body fat along the way.
Experience the Great Taste and Benefits of Wagyu For Yourself
If you haven’t tried Wagyu meat, you are missing out on not only the great taste and quality of beef but also its potential health benefits. And when it comes to Wagyu beef there is no beating what we offer here at Holy Wagyu.
As a top supplier of American full-blood wagyu beef, our kosher products are monitored from farm to table and we are dedicated to raising our cattle humanely to ensure only the highest quality meat is delivered right to your door. So you can rest easy knowing the meal you serve will be tastier, healthier, and more satisfying than the rest.