World “healthy wagyu beef” expert for 2016 conference

Dr Stephen Smith, a highly regarded research scientist and Regents Professor in animal science at Texas A&M, will be at the the 2016 Wagyu National Conference in May to explain his findings that heavily marbled long-grainfed Wagyu beef contains ‘extraordinary’ amounts of the monounsaturated ‘healthy’ oleic fatty acid.

The 2016 Conference runs from May 2 to 4 at Crowne Plaza, Hunter Valley. Registrations forms will be available soon on

Oleic acid is abundant in olive oil and its presence in beef increases with marbling content and days on feed.

“We need fat in beef to improve the eating experience,” said Dr Smith.

Smith teamed with Dr Brad Johnson of the Texas Tech University to co-author a paper, ‘Marbling: Management of cattle to maximise the deposition of intramuscular adipose tissue’  and this can be found online at

The paper addresses the biology and biochemistry of beef marbling and its effects on production systems, carcase and fat quality.

“In our research, we examined young cattle just before they marbled and were primarily looking at genes related to fatty acid composition,” he said.

“As cattle fatten and put down marbling, the fat becomes healthier because there is a replacement of saturated fats with oleic acid”.

The research also attempted to discover the cellular processes that regulate this very natural increase in oleic acid in beef.

The researchers looked at gene expression associated with fat development. In general terms in transitioning from pasture or grass feeding to feedlot feeding there is a profound increase in genes associated with fat development and making more oleic acid.

“You can barely detect expression of genes related to marbling and fat composition in cattle on pasture, but much more so when cattle are fed grain,” said Smith.

“The longer they are on feed the more oleic acid they deposit. If you take Wagyu or Hanwoo, which are grain fed up to 30 months of age, they have an extraordinary amount of marbling and oleic acid. Wagyu and Hanwoo beef marbling fat is very soft which provides a juicy mouth feel.”

The study indicates that marbled beef increased high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – the good cholesterol – in men and women and the relationship between fat and overall palatability “underscores the importance of grain feeding and intramuscular lipid in beef quality”.

As fat increases, it is accompanied by a decrease in the proportion of the ‘bad’ saturated and trans-fatty acids with a corresponding increase in the ‘good’ oleic and other monounsaturated fatty acids.

“The more cattle fatten, (the more) they put down more marbling and the more healthful beef is,” Smith said.

Randomized, controlled studies evaluated individuals who consumed ground beef formulated from long grain-fed steers for five weeks (five patties a week) compared to the consumption of regular ground beef – lower in oleic acid. HDL (good) cholesterol increased significantly in normocholesterolemic men and postmenopausal women fed the high oleic acid ground beef. In these studies the men consumed ground beef containing 24% fat and the women consumed ground beef containing 20% fat.

The conclusions were that that even at these high levels of fat intake, ground beef had no negative effects on lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism in men and women, and ground beef naturally enriched in oleic acid had in fact, positive health benefits.

“We hope to convince everyone in the beef production chain, all the way from producers to retailers, that healthy fat in beef not only improves flavor, but you can modify the animal naturally so that beef contains more oleic acid. This provides a very palatable product that, even though it contains relatively high levels of fat, in is not going to have a negative effect on cholesterol metabolism in humans,” said Smith.

Research in Australia into the healthiness of Wagyu beef has concentrated on the unique low melting point of Wagyu unsaturated fats. The progress of this research was the subject of a paper presented by Dr Sally Lloyd at the World Wagyu Conference on May 10, 2015.


via source Australian Wagyu Association  | World “healthy wagyu beef” expert for 2016 conference

For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at or (979) 845-1542.

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