14 April 2000

Grass benefits flavour

FISH is so often perceived as a healthy food and red meat as less healthy, but research at Bristol University shows that grass-fed cattle and sheep produce a meat rich in health promoting omega-3 fatty acids – also found in fish – which are good news for meat flavour as well.

Researcher Jeff Wood says: "Grass is one of few plants to contain high levels of linolenic acid so grazing animals or those fed first-cut silage or high quality hay consume large amounts. Conversion of linolenic acid into omega-3 fatty acids means grass-fed red meat is one of two good dietary sources of these fatty acids, the other being fish."

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in reducing heart disease by maintaining blood fluidity at optimal levels, says Prof Wood. "They also impart a deeper, more intense flavour to grass fed beef and lamb.

"Our study assessed meat from 100 beef cattle and 200 sheep, either grass or cereal fed. A specially trained taste panel preferred the flavour of grass-fed lamb and we are currently conducting studies on beef." &#42