Organic milk, meat higher in healthier fatty acids

Two new studies out of Newcastle University have confirmed several benefits of consuming organic dairy and meat. The papers, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, show that organic milk and meat contain about 50% higher levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. They also show that organic meat had lower concentrations of two saturated fats, and that organic milk and dairy products contain 40% more of the heart-healthy conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than their conventional counterparts.

In addition to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, organic milk contains higher levels of iron, vitamin E, and carotenoids, all of which are associated with health benefits.

While several other studies have supported the benefits of consuming organic milk and meat, these publications are ground-breaking as they are the first to utilize state-of-the-art meta-analysis techniques. The most comprehensive reviews ever conducted on these topics, they analyzed findings from 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat from around the world.

The Newcastle papers show that choosing organic meat and dairy could help consumers overcome the lack of omega-3 fatty acids in a typical Western diet without increasing calorie or saturated fat intake. Additionally, the use of pesticides and growth hormones are banned from use on organic operations. Thus, when consumers choose organic, they are avoiding potentially harmful synthetic chemicals.

Two years ago, Dr. Carlo Leifert—lead author of these latest studies and Science Advisory Board member for The Organic Center—led a similar review for fruits and vegetables that showed organic produce had higher levels of some antioxidants and less pesticide residue than conventionally grown produce.

We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional food. Taken together, the three studies on crops, meat and milk suggest that a switch to organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products would provide significantly higher amounts of dietary antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids,”  

     - Dr. Carlo Leifert