Drinking milk from organically raised cows is better for your heart than drinking milk from non-organic cows, new scientific research indicates.
Published in the scientific journal PLOS One, the study indicates that milk from organically raised cows contains far higher levels of fatty acids that improve heart health than regular milk.
Whole organic milk has much higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, researcher Charles M. Benbrook, the study’s author and a Washington State University professor, discovered. Omega-3, a fatty acid that can reduce the risk of some heart problems, is also found in fish and certain kinds of oil.
“All milk is healthy and good for people,” Benbrook told The New York Times, “but organic milk is better, because it has a more favorable balance of these fatty acids.”
The reason for the difference? Organic cows eat grassy foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, while conventionally raised cows eat corn.
Organic milk is also lower in Omega-6 fatty acids, which, when consumed in large quantities and without the property ratio are known to increase the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome, Benbrook discovered. (Generally, we need more Omega-3 acids than Omega-6 acids.) The professor’s research seems to justify what a lot of us already know: Milk from cows kept and fed in the traditional way is better than milk from industrial dairies.
“In my judgment, the benefit from this healthy balance of fatty acids in organic milk is the most significant nutritional benefit demonstrated so far for organic food,” Benbrook said.
Why organic milk is better for your heart
Professor Benbrook and his team at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources examined 384 samples of milk over an 18 month period and made some intriguing discoveries that include:
- Whole organic milk contained 62 percent more Omega-3 fatty acids than whole non-organic milk.
- Whole organic milk contained 25 percent less Omega-6 fatty acids than non-organic milk.
- The benefits only came from whole milk and not from nonfat milk which has less fat.
Professor Benbrook’s work seems to justify those who are sometimes going out of their way to buy organic milk. It also seems to affirm those who prefer unpasteurized raw milk – which often is organic — over pasteurized milk.
The study was peer-reviewed and partially funded by Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers.
“Organic Valley is proving what our farm families have known for a long time,” said George Siemon of Organic Valley. “Not only is high-quality pasture and forage better for cows, it produces nutritionally superior whole milk. It’s been said the organic industry has been lacking in science. Today, it’s getting harder and harder to argue that.”
Why Omega 3 fatty acids are so good for you
Professor Benbrook’s work is also good news for all the mothers and wives who have had a hard time getting family members to eat foods with a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet is low in Omeg-3 fatty acids and high in Omega-6 fatty acids.
Many Americans don’t like eating – or just don’t eat — foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, fish oil or flaxseed. Those people might be willing to drink whole organic milk to get the benefits.
Some of the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Numerous studies have shown that consumption of supplements containing fish oil which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids can lower the level of triglycerides in the bloodstream. High triglyceride levels are a known risk factor for heart disease.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation which is a cause of many health problems including asthma.
- Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (memory loss) in older people.
- Societies where people eat lots of food with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have lower levels of depression and other mental health problems.
- Consumption of fish oil which is high in Omega-3 has been shown to improve cognitive functions and brain development in children.
- Fish oil has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in some children.
- Omega-3 fatty acid is important for the development of the nervous system and the eyes in infants.
It looks like mother was right: Milk is very good for you. Provided it is organic milk that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids.