In 1980 the US Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and for the first time encouraged Americans to avoid meats that were high in saturated fats and cholesterol. This recommendation was followed by similar statements from the American Heart Association and other organizations.
Since that time, the “war on cholesterol” has driven many Americans away from beef. However, scientific studies since 1980 have begun to distinguish between “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and “good” high density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol from “bad” saturated fatty acids and “bad” low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). As food scientists dug deeper, they found that Wagyu beef was different and superior to other types of beef. These differences included much higher concentrations of monounsaturated fats, relative to saturated fats, and much higher concentrations of oleic acid, which decreases LDL cholesterol and total overall cholesterol in human studies, making Wagyu more "heart healthy" than other beef.
Although it is a little technical, these summaries of studies and links to their published papers may be a helpful resource to our customers who want to know more about what makes 100% Wagyu beef different and arguably better than other breeds of beef.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition by Thaddeus H Adams, et. Al. in 2009 looked at the effects of fat enriched hamburger consumption by men with mildly high cholesterol. The study compared burgers that were enriched with high saturated fat (SFA) from pasture fed domestic cattle and Wagyu and the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) burgers were derived from cattle and Wagyu on a maize-based diet for a minimum of 8 months. In comparing the fat composition using the ratio of MUFA:SFA, the highest ratio of “good” fat to “bad” fat was the maize-fed Wagyu. The study concluded that fatty acid composition varies significantly, and that all beef products cannot be lumped together with respect to risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Stephen B. Smith, Regents Professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University has extensively studied growth and development of fat tissue and lipid metabolism in cattle. In this study, published in Animal Science Journal in 2006, he concludes that a hay-based diet for American Wagyu steers resulted in much higher oleic acid than hay-fed Angus and that this concentration of oleic acid “improves the palatability and healthiness of beef…”
In the same study, Professor Smith looked at Stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD), a gene associated with beef fatty acid composition, and higher oleic acid. Several other studies have looked at the correlation between this gene and increased presence of monounsaturated fatty acid in Wagyu relative to other fatty acids. It found that American Wagyu performed as well on a high roughage (hay/corn) diet as they do on a low roughage, corn-based diet, and Angus steers do not. The variation in fatty acid composition across breeds can be attributed to the genetics of American Wagyu versus Angus, and not solely to feed types.