- both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products
- organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats (myristic and palmitic acid) that are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- organic milk contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids
- conventional milk contained 74% more of the essential mineral iodine and slightly more selenium
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition states there are clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.
Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University explains:
“Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function.
“Western European diets are recognised as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends we should double our intake.
“But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way towards improving intakes of these important nutrients.”
Researchers say switching from conventional to organic milk would raise omega-3 fat intake without increasing calories and saturated fat. For example, half a litre of organic full fat milk (or equivalent fat intakes from other dairy products like butter and cheese) provides an estimated 16% (39 mg) of the recommended, daily intake of very long-chain omega-3, while conventional milk provides 11% (25 mg).
Other positive changes in fat profiles included lower levels of myristic and palmitic acid in organic meat and a lower omega-3/omega-6 ratio in organic milk. Higher levels of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin E and carotenoids and 40% more CLA in organic milk were also observed.
The study showed that the more desirable fat profiles in organic milk were closely linked to outdoor grazing and low concentrate feeding in dairy diets, as prescribed by organic farming standards.