Consumer perceptions about foods and health are not always based on science. We are influenced by advertising, friends, and community. Take for example organically-grown food. We know organic farming practices are better for the earth and farm workers, but is it really better for us? Putting aside the obvious answer that avoiding pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers reduces toxin exposure in our bodies, are there any nutritional benefits to eating organically? Is organic food any different? Is organic milk really better?
In the past, we examined some research on organic fruits and vegetables.1)http://ecochildsplay.com/2012/03/15/organic-vs-conventional-is-the-proof-is-in-the-nutrition/ Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, this study found:
THE RESEARCH ANALYSED 343 STUDIES INTO THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL CROPS AND FOUND THAT SWITCHING TO ORGANIC FOODS WOULD PROVIDE ANTI-OXIDANTS EQUIVALENT TO EATING 1-2 EXTRA PORTIONS OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES A DAY.2)http://ecochildsplay.com/2014/07/20/more-proof-organic-food-is-better/
One of my personal beliefs about organic food is that it is most important to eat organic dairy products. Toxins build up in the fatty tissues of animals. Just think of how DDT travels through the food chain.
The benefits of organic milk do have something to do with fat.
A new research study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found organic milk really is better!
The result of the meta-analysis of 170 research studies was published in the March 2016 issue. Researchers found a difference in the fatty acid compounds in organic milk.
It is concluded that organic bovine milk has a more desirable fatty acid composition than conventional milk. Meta-analyses also showed that organic milk has significantly higher α-tocopherol and Fe, but lower I and Se concentrations. Redundancy analysis of data from a large cross-European milk quality survey indicates that the higher grazing/conserved forage intakes in organic systems were the main reason for milk composition differences. 3)http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10181431&fileId=S0007114516000349
Concentrations of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA and n-3 PUFA) were “significantly higher” in organic milk. These fats are important in metabolism and are anti-inflammatory.
Benefits of n-3 PUFA in organic milk
- fights cardiovascular disease
- healthy aging
- fetal development
- weight management4)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/223611895)http://advances.nutrition.org/content/3/1/1.full6)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20041818
According to the journal Advanced Nutritional Food Research,
In summary, n-3 PUFAs have multiple health benefits mediated at least in part by their anti-inflammatory actions; thus their consumption, especially from dietary sources, should be encouraged7)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22361189
Why is organic milk more nutritious?
On average, organic dairy cows produce 20% less milk. This is due to the fact that organic dairy cows graze and forage more than their conventional counterparts who are fed concentrated diets.) Fresh foraging results not only in organic milk having higher concentrations of PUFAs but α-tocopherol as well. The natural a-tocopherol obtained through grazing is more accessible than the synthetic vitamins found in conventional feed.8)http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN115_06%2FS0007114516000349a.pdf&code=2a44d4602decff30799cf8f415584175
The benefits of organic milk transfer to other dairy products. Researchers found:
On the basis of the meta-analyses results, concentrations of VLC n-3 PUFA were estimated to be 58% higher in organic compared with conventional milk, and a switch from conventional to organic milk and dairy consumption could therefore be one such complementary dietary approach, especially as recent studies indicate that processing of milk into high-fat products such as butter and cheese (which account for a high proportion of milk fat intake) does not change the fat composition and the relative difference in n-3 PUFA between organic and conventional dairy products.9)http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN115_06%2FS0007114516000349a.pdf&code=2a44d4602decff30799cf8f415584175
Remember this research is only looking at the nutritional differences between organic milk and conventional milk. Other benefits, such as human treatment of livestock and the reduction of chemicals in our bodies and environment, were not considered.
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