Wagyu Beef: Is it healthy and what makes it so expensive?

Wagyu beef is famously known for one thing: expensive. Some would even argue that wagyu beef lives on an entirely different level. 

But what makes it so expensive? And is the price worth it health-wise? 

What is wagyu beef?

wagyu beef

Wagyu means Japanese cow. This being said, wagyu originated in Japan and has become internationally famed and is one of the top-notch beef. 

It is famous for its rich marbling, impressive buttery taste, and it has richer flavors than any other beef in the market. Price-wise, high-grade wagyu can cost up to  $200 per pound and the rarest steak in the world, olive wagyu, can cost between $120 to over $300 per steak. 

It’s not only the beef that’s expensive. The cows from which wagyu beef comes from carries a heftier price tag. A cow can be sold for over $30,000. 

In 2020 alone, Japan exported 24.7 billion yen worth of wagyu. 

How are wagyu cows bred?

Wagyu beef comes from 4 Japanese cow breeds: Kuroge, Akage, Nihon Tankaku, and Mukake.

They have a distinct feature based on their physical endurance and fat cells. 

The way these cows are bred significantly contributes to the texture and creamy taste of the wagyu beef. First, they are abundant in inter-muscular fat cells. These are evenly distributed throughout the muscle. 

A few important information on the breeding process of these cows are: 

  • Wagyu cattle gain weight naturally and slowly. They are never fed growth hormones. 
  • They are raised in closed spaces and fed a specific high-energy concentrate composed of rice-wheat and hey for more than 2 years.
  • The cost of the beef varies depending on the length of the fattening process and the cost and amount of the high energy concentrate. 
  • The breeding process is strictly regulated by the Japanese government. The higher the grade, the higher the price. 

Health Benefits of Wagyu Beef

There are a lot of factors why Wagyu beef is highly praised, that includes its health benefits. To give you a headstart, it is known to be rich in fatty acids and good cholesterol. 

Has more essential fatty acids

Wagyu beef is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and contains essential amino acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are considered to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other health conditions. 

It is also believed to contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that helps lower the risks of diabetes. 

Protein and Iron

The body makes use of protein and iron to transport oxygen throughout the body and also helps with maintaining weight and energy and wagyu contains plenty of protein and other valuable nutrients. 

Though it is still important to keep in mind that while Wagyu is a healthier alternative to regular beef, it should still be consumed in moderation. 

What to serve Wagyu beef with?

The best way to cook your Wagyu beef is through the simplest way: salt and pepper only. Your cooking techniques also depend on the cut but usually, high-heat grilling and pan-searing are the common methods. 

To thoroughly enjoy your Wagyu, keep it uncomplicated and serve it with bold flavors. 

  1. Wine – Because of the wagyu’s intricate flavor, it is often paired with medium and full-bodied wines with higher tannins. Red wines balance out the buttery flavor and all goes well with the high-fat content. 
  2. Appetizers – Before the wagyu beef, it is better to serve something light but flavorful, such as blue cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, or salami. Pair these with a thinly sliced and half-toasted baguette. 
  3. Side dishes – A good approach to deciding what to side with your wagyu beef is choosing which flavors go well with the robust or smokiness of the beef. Good examples of perfect side dishes are sauteed mushrooms, roasted broccoli, sprouts, or asparagus, or a simple mashed potato. 

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