The characteristics and health benefit of highly marbled Wagyu has been increased in Japan and Korea to meet domestic consumer preferences. Wagyu have high potential of accumulating intramuscular fat (IMF) and producing highly marbled beef. The IMF content varies depending on the feeding of time, finishing diet, and breed type. IMF increases when feeding time is increased. The rate of IMF increase in grain-fed cattle is faster than that in pasture-fed cattle.
Fatty acid composition are also different depending on breeds. Highly marbled Wagyu beef have higher proportions of monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) due to higher concentrations of oleic acid. MUFAs have little effect on total cholesterol and they are heart-healthy dietary fat because they can lower low-density lipoprotein LDL-cholesterol while increasing high-density lipoprotein HDL-cholesterol.
Clinical trials have indicated that highly marbled beef does not increase LDL-cholesterol. This review also emphasizes that high oleic acid beef such as Wagyu and Hanwoo beef might be able to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease.