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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Healthy Eating arrow Wagyu Beef 101: Is it Healthy? Nutrition and Benefits

Wagyu Beef 101: Is it Healthy? Nutrition and Benefits

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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: April 4, 2023
7 min read 1167 Views 0 Comments
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Wagyu beef is possibly one of the world’s finest and most expensive meat. Is Wagyu beef healthier than other cattle breeds? We will explain why most people are simply obsessed with it, as well as its health benefits and whether it fits into a healthy diet.

is wagyu beef healthy

Wagyu beef is predominantly produced from Japanese varieties of cow, which hold fat in the muscle, giving the meat a rich buttery flavor. It is regarded as one of the world’s finest meats, with a distinct flavor and an unrivaled eating experience, which has expanded its appeal in the United States.

It has a high-fat content with a fatty acid composition, primarily unsaturated fatty acids, giving it an incredibly tender and luxurious taste and texture that melts in the mouth. 

Is Wagyu meat suitable for a healthy diet, and what are its health benefits? We explain that and more in this article.  

What Is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu is a unique Japanese cattle breed genetically predisposed to metabolize fat internally and has more intramuscular fat cells (marbling). The fat is integrated within the muscle, creating a more marbled beef than other cattle breeds. 

There is a slight difference with Wagyu meat depending on where the cattle were bred. Most American Wagyu beef is from a crossbred of American Angus cattle and Japanese Black Wagyu cattle and has a less richly marbling than the pure Japanese breed. 

Wagyu beef is so expensive because of its incredible marbling ability. The Japanese cattle are fed on a costly high-energy diet to promote the development of intramuscular fat cells for about three years before it is slaughtered.

Japan highly regulates the breeding and export of the Japanese Black, the predominant Wagyu cattle exported to the US. 

Is Wagyu Beef Healthy?

Wagyu meat is healthy because it contains essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are beneficial for the body. It has a high unsaturated fatty acid to saturated fat ratio, which has been proven to lower markers of heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels. It also contains stearic acid, which does not raise LDL cholesterol.

7 Health Benefits of Wagyu

#1 Has a healthy fat content and can aid in weight loss

The healthy fatty acid profile of Wagyu meat can be beneficial in losing extra body fat and maintaining a healthy weight. 

A study of 124 overweight or obese people eating a diet rich in monounsaturated fats had more success than those on a high-carb diet. They also got additional benefits such as blood sugar control and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease

Decreasing the intake of saturated fats is one of the clinical nutrition recommendations for maintaining a healthy weight.

#2 Reduces the risk factors for heart disease

Wagyu beef contains unsaturated fatty acids, which lower the levels of low-density lipoproteins or LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, which has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

This meat has an overall lower saturated fat content because it contains an enzyme called the delta 9-desaturase that converts stearic acid to oleic acid, which boosts heart health. 

#3 Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Wagyu meat is an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, improving brain function and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation and lower heart disease and cancer risk.

#4 Contains conjugated linoleic acid

The richly marbled beef is also rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has impressive health benefits such as a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In fact, Wagyu meat has 30% more CLA than any other cattle breed and most foods and has fewer adverse health effects.

#5 Excellent source of protein

The meat contains all the essential amino acids and is a high-quality protein. Protein is a critical building block of the body and is essential for muscle growth and repair, skin and nail health, and other hormonal and biochemical functions.

#6 Rich in essential minerals

A rich mineral profile is one of the biggest perks of Wagyu. It contains iron that the body requires to transport blood to the rest of the body. It is also a healthier alternative to other types of red meat.

#7 Rich in essential vitamins

Eating Wagyu meat increases your intake of essential vitamins such as vitamin A and niacin, which are essential for growth and development. The Japanese Black cattle are fed a healthy diet in a stress-free environment that contributes to a rich nutritional profile.

Nutrition Facts of Wagyu Beef

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount
Calories (kcal)639
Net Carbs (g)0.97
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)68.1
Protein (g)5.54
Cholesterol (mg)95

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173967/nutrients 

High in calories and fats

Wagyu contains a high level of unsaturated fats with high calorie and fat content. Monounsaturated fat raises the “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers the harmful LDL cholesterol, thus preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Moderate amount of proteins

Wagyu meat contains moderate amounts of protein, with just 5.54g per 100g. Eating high-quality protein is beneficial for losing extra fat because it improves satiety and can reduce unhealthy snacking.

Low in carbohydrates and sugars

Wagyu meat contains negligible amounts of net carbs and can benefit a low-carb, high-fat diet to maintain a healthy weight.

Rich in vitamins and minerals

The beef is rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as niacin, vitamin A, zinc, and iron that fuel the body to perform its biochemical function. The meat provides about 6% of the daily requirement of iron, such as the transportation of oxygen and immunity.

High in cholesterol

100g of Wagyu beef contains 95mg of cholesterol, which is 29% of the daily recommended allowance for a healthy person. However, it has a high percentage of unsaturated fat that helps lower cholesterol levels. It also has lower cholesterol and saturated fat levels than other meats, including chicken and fish, but you should eat this meat in moderation nonetheless.

Wagyu vs. Normal Beef

 Wagyu beefNormal beef
MUFAContains a higher percentage of MUFA and lower cholesterol30% less concentration of MUFA and has higher cholesterol levels
Oleic acidHigher percentage: 52.9%Lower content: 32.9–39.8%
Melting pointLower fat melting pointHigher fat melting point
Marbling scoreHighly marbled with a buttery and unique flavor with more “umami” flavorLess marbled
Risk of cardiovascular diseaseLower risk because MUFA lower LDL cholesterolHas more saturated fats, increasing the risk
Conjugated linoleic acidContains CLAHas 30% less CLA
Cost$200 per poundFour times cheaper
Rearing timeTakes three years and has a special diet and strict rearing rulesTakes 15–18 months

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5243954/

Healthy Wagyu Beef Recipe

If you’re keen on trying out this mouthwatering meat, try this quick Wagyu recipe. It will be ready in just 10 minutes.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2lb American Wagyu steak, about 1-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ tablespoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Garlic butter

  • 1 teaspoon salted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Pat dry the steak with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Season with salt and black pepper on both sides, then set aside.
  2. To make the garlic butter, combine the butter, garlic, and parsley in a bowl. Mix thoroughly to form a thick paste. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before using.
  3. Heat a cast-iron skillet on high heat until it starts smoking, for about 3–5 minutes. Add oil. Place the seasoned steak on the cast iron skillet and cook on one side for 2 minutes. Sear the fatty edge of the meat until it browns before flipping it.
  4. Flip the steak and pan-sear the other side for 2 minutes. You can add more time depending on the thickness of the meat.
  5. Transfer the steak to a serving plate. Add the garlic butter on top of the steak and spread it out. Serve, and enjoy.

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FAQs

What is the percentage of fat in Wagyu beef?

Wagyu beef contains 68.1g of fat per 100g. However, it has a higher ratio of unsaturated fatty acids than saturated fatty acids compared to other types of meat. It has a 52.9% oleic acid concentration, which is beneficial for heart health.

Why is Wagyu so fatty?

Wagyu cattle store intramuscular fat and have a higher percentage of fatty acids because of their genetic predisposition and the exquisite treatment they receive, such as a high-energy diet for ultimate fat retention and a stress-free environment.

Is Wagyu beef good for weight loss?

Wagyu beef is good for weight loss because it contains healthy fats such as oleic acids and has more unsaturated fatty acids than saturated fatty acids. Eating healthy fats increases satiety and can reduce overeating, which is good for maintaining a healthy weight.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Wagyu is one of the highest quality meat in the world, known for its marbling effect and fatty acid composition. It boasts of a rich fatty acid profile and contains essential fatty acids that are heart-friendly and have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The benefits of Wagyu beef include reducing inflammation, boosting heart health, and strengthening the immune system. You don’t need to avoid it just because it is red meat because it has impressive health benefits. Eating Wagyu as part of a healthy diet is highly recommended.

Be sure to eat moderate portions because of the high cholesterol content, even though cholesterol from unprocessed foods is safer than processed meat products such as sausages.

Conclusion

Wagyu beef is one of the highest quality meat in the world because of its rich buttery taste and high levels of marbling. Although it comes at a high cost because of its unique nutritional profile and the cost and time taken to breed the cattle, the payoff is that people are always ready to spend whatever the cost to savor the super marbled luxurious cut of meat.

Despite its higher price tag, the benefit of Wagyu beef is unmatched. It delivers a blend of healthy unsaturated fats, a luxurious buttery taste, and more health benefits than normal beef. If you love meat and want a unique taste, opt for Wagyu beef instead of normal beef. You may never want to go back.

dofasting logo
Our rating:
4.7
stars
  • Useful progress tracker and calendar
  • Calorie tracker to track daily caloric intake
  • Over 5,000 nutritious recipes
Start DoFasting Quiz
Beatrice Wairimu, RD
Beatrice is a registered dietician with vast experience in health and wellness. She specializes in writing for the health and fitness industry. When she is not writing, Beatrice coaches women on healthy eating, exercise, and mental wellness. Her goal is to educate people on healthy living through writing, health promotion, and coaching.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: April 4, 2023
7 min read 1167 Views 0 Comments
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