raw bison brisket

The Many Health Benefits of Bison: Part 1 – Iron

When it comes to nutritional benefits, not all meats are created equal. It’s probably no surprise we tend to favor bison over here, but we have our reasons – a lot of them actually! When compared with beef (grain or grassfed), grassfed bison meat naturally comes out ahead in every single category, including taste.

Now, you may be thinking, “Sounds awesome, but why is bison meat better for me than beef?” Well, we’re glad you asked! In this four-part series, we’re going to take a deep dive (really deep) into all the reasons why this magnificent meat should be given some serious respect.  We’ll explore topics including iron, protein content, Omega-3 fats, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid, better known as CLA’s.

Whether you’re a busy parent, an athlete or just want to make better food choices, these four nutritional components are essential to your overall health. But don’t worry, while we’re satisfying your brain with all these hard-core facts, we’ll also give your taste buds a few recipes to look forward to as well. So, let’s get to it, shall we?  First up, iron!

The Importance of Iron

Let’s go back to high school science class for a minute and review the importance of iron in our overall health. No pop-quizzes, though, we promise!

  • Iron is essential for creating red blood cells; the cells responsible for circulating oxygen throughout the entire body
  • Iron helps nourish organs so they can function properly and is necessary for growth, development and normal cell functions
  • Iron supports metabolism, strengthens the immune system and helps keep energy levels up

Iron clearly plays a vital role in our health, but did you know iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world? It’s also easily preventable, which we’ll get to shortly!

Who Needs Iron?

The short answer is everyone. But we all need different amounts, depending on factors like age, gender and lifestyle.  Men need about 8mg per day while women need closer to 18 mg. The average person typically meets their minimum daily iron requirements, but additional iron is especially crucial for the following groups of people:

  • Pregnant women
  • Frequent blood donors*
  • Women diagnosed with menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding)
  • Infants and young children

*About 25%–35% of regular blood donors develop iron deficiency, so it is important to replenish iron supplies after giving blood.

Now, before you rush out and buy an industrial size canister of iron supplements, consider this: the body does not excrete iron rapidly, causing it to build up over time and become toxic. This is why many people feel ill when taking supplements.  Fortunately, there are more natural ways of getting iron into your diet, like a delicious, perfectly seared bison rib-eye steak, for example.

Iron in Bison Meat 

In order to increase iron intake, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends incorporating “dietary diversification” or modification strategies to enhance micronutrient content. Translation: Eat a variety of foods! Iron is naturally present in some foods (spinach, beans, dried fruit and peas to name a few), but the richest forms of iron are found in lean red meats (like bison!) and seafood.

Now, back to your initial question, “Why is bison meat better for me than beef?”  Check this out:

3 oz. of grassfed bison =  2.71 mg of iron

3 oz. of beef =  1.62mg of iron

If you went for the leafy greens or the seafood instead, you’d need to eat 3.5 cups of spinach or a whopping 9 ounces of Atlantic salmon to equal the same amount of iron in the 3 oz serving of bison!

If you want to up your iron game even more,  try bison organs like heart, liver and kidney. Our special Heart & Liver Ground Blend is a great way to sneak a little extra iron into any recipe that normally calls for ground meat.

Check out this amazing recipe for Bison Chili for some inspiration and be sure to check back next week when we tackle the topic of protein content in bison meat!