What makes organic meat and milk healthier?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Organic meats, dairy more nutritious and just might help with weight loss

New Castle University UK researchers have uncovered what it is that makes organic milk and meat healthier than non-organic products in the largest study of its kind.

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It turns out there are significant differences between conventional milk and meat, compared to organic that mean better nutrition for consumers that translates to better health.

More fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in organic meats and milk

The finding that is published in the British Journal of Nutrition found consuming organic meat and dairy boosts levels of fatty acids that help quell inflammation, contribute to brain health, help us keep triglyceride levels lower and possibly help boost our mood.

According to the researchers, there is roughly 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk and meat than is found in conventional products.

Eating animals that graze on grass and raised organically is not only kind to the environment. It is also humane and gives us more vitamins and minerals compared to eating factory farmed meat, the researchers explain.

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The new research that is an analysis of 67 papers on meat and 195 for dairy found:

  • Organic meat is higher in antioxidants
  • Is lower in bad fatty acids that can promote heart disease
  • Can help with weight control because of fewer calories
  • Provides us with more minerals and vitamins including vitamin E that gives us a boost in cardiovascular health, brain health and immune function
  • Lower iodine than conventional meat and dairy, which could post a problem for pregnant women and in areas like the UK where iodized salt is not widely available
  • Forty percent more CLA in organic milk than conventional - CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that reduces body fat in animals; perhaps in humans and is being explored for its potential multiple human health benefits (1)
  • Organic meat has slightly higher levels of carotenoids that could possibly help prevent cancer and heart disease.
  • The study also found organic meat is slightly higher in iron

Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University explains in a media release that most diets are low in omega-3 fatty acids. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends most people's intake should be doubled.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

"We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional food," explains Seal, who adds well designed studies are needed to find out the exact composition of nutrients among different farm animals. The researcher suggests we need to know more about how we raise our food impacts human health, which is a growing concern among consumers.

Switching to organic meats and dairy boost nutrient intake and provide more vitamins, minerals and beneficial fatty acids than conventional meat and dairy. You might also find yourself losing weight from higher levels of CLA in organic milk and fewer calories.

(1) Am J Clin Nutr June 2004 vol. 79 no. 6 1132S-1136S

Related: Why organic food can be a real bargain

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