We know that the richly marbled Japanese Wagyu beef makes the cut, so to speak, when it comes to flavor and tenderness. The abundant intramuscular fat streaks flourish through the entirety of the meat, creating a buttery, sumptuous texture with every single bite. Inarguably, thanks to the evenly dispersed, ample fat, Wagyu beats out American beef when it comes to taste and texture. But what about health? Is Wagyu healthier than other beef?
Fat Content in Wagyu
These decadent red and white-streaked steaks are primarily sourced from the Japanese Black (Kuroge) cattle, which are genetically predisposed to having a higher fat content. These cattle were originally bred to work and carry heavy loads uphill, which allowed them to develop very strong forequarters and encouraged more intramuscular fat cells (what we know as "marbling").
In addition, modern Japanese Wagyu farmers feed their cattle a high-energy diet that further supports the development of intramuscular fat cells. Because of this, Wagyu is more fatty than your standard cow. But there's good news - this fat is a monounsaturated fat (MUFA), considered "good fat." Your body uses good fats for energy and to support cell growth.
Wagyu Has Less Cholesterol
Who says steak can't be a part of your low-cholesterol diet? Because of its high percentage of monounsaturated fat, Wagyu actually has the lowest cholesterol levels of all meats, including fish or chicken. Wagyu fat has less saturated fat than other beef because it contains the enzyme delta 9-desaturase, which takes stearic acid (a saturated fatty acid) and changes into oleic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid). Consuming too much saturated fat can contributed to buildup in the arteries, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Wagyu Has More Essential Fatty Acids
Wagyu beef is extremely rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and contains all of the essential amino acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids such as these are believed to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and other conditions. The richly marbled beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is believed to have health benefits such as lowered risk of disease and diabetes.
The fatty acid profile of your beef isn't just necessary for your health, it's also necessary for flavor. These acids, especially oleic acid that's abundant in Wagyu, contribute to its signature buttery, umami flavor.
Wagyu Has Plenty of Protein and Iron
Good fat aside, Wagyu also provides plenty of protein and other valuable nutrients. The body relies on proteins and irons to transport oxygen throughout the body and to help maintain weight and energy. Bear in mind that while Wagyu may be a healthier alternative to regular domestic beef, it should still be consumed in moderation as with any food.