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Published on December 11th, 2013 | by Jennifer Kaplan

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Organic Milk vs Regular Milk: Which Is Better?

organic milk vs regular milk

A new study has shown definitively that organic milk is better for you than regular milk.

Scientists at Washington State University, Newcastle University (United Kingdom) and Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative have completed the first large-scale, U.S. milk-fat composition survey comparing milk from organic and conventional farms.

Organic Milk vs Regular Milk

The new study was conducted in response to a disturbing health trend in the United States. In the last one hundred years there has been a dramatic rise in consumption of omega-6 (aka. “bad”) fatty acids in Western diets, while omega-3 (aka. “good”) fatty acid consumption has fallen. It is generally agreed that too much omega-6 is bad  and that the resulting omega-6/omega-3 consumption ratios “have risen to nutritionally undesirable levels.”

According to study by The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington, DC, western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved:

Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids  and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects … A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is more desirable in reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases of high prevalence in Western societies, as well as in the developing countries, that are being exported to the rest of the world.

The milk study found that organic milk contained 25% less ω-6 fatty acids and 62% more ω-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher ω-6/ω-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk. The general idea is that organic milk comes from cows that eat grass and vegetables compared to conventional milk cows which primarily eat grains. Michele Jacobson, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, points out that “in order to obtain these omega 3′s it’s essential to drink whole fat milk; that’s where the omega 3′s are.”

It is believed that milk from cows consuming significant amounts of grass and legume-based forages contains less LA and other ω-6 FAs and higher concentrations of ALA, CLA, and the long-chain ω-3s EPA and DPA, compared to cows lacking routine access to pasture and fed substantial quantities of grains. In most countries, lactating cows on organically managed farms receive a significant portion of daily DMI from pasture and conserved, forage-based feeds, while cows on conventional farms receive much less.

The authors point out that in the most recent U.S. government dairy sector survey, only 22% of cows had access to pasture, and for most of these, access was very limited.

The study concluded that:

… consumers have viable options to reduce average omega-6/omega-3 intake ratios, thereby reducing or eliminating probable risk factors for a wide range of developmental and chronic health problems.

 



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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .



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