Sales of organic milk are on the rise - today, it accounts for about 4 percent of total milk consumption in the US.
Organic producers have always claimed that their milk is nutritionally superior. Because their cows spend a lot more time out in pasture, munching on grasses and legumes rich in omega-3 fats, they argue that organic milk contains more healthful omega-3 fats than regular milk.
As you probably already know, greater consumption of omega-3 fats has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
However, the evidence for the claim that organic milk is a better source of omega-3 fats has been scant - until now.
A new study in which researchers analyzed about 400 samples of organic and regular milk produced in the US has found that organic milk has about 62 percent more omega-3 fats compared to regular milk obtained from cows that typically spend most of their time confined in a barn and being fed a diet of animal feed containing a lot of corn.
Health experts say we should consume more omega-3 fats for our heart and overall health. It turns out that plant-based foods such as leafy greens and nuts are rich in an omega-3 fat known as alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. Clearly, organic milk from pasture-fed cows is an excellent source of ALA.
Consuming ALA-rich milk is a great way to change the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, the typical American diet already contains too many omega-6 fats, which is why we need to balance our dietary ratio for better health.
Here’s an interesting fact - if you want the full benefits of omega-3s in organic milk, you’re better off drinking whole milk rather than skim, because skimming reduces omega-3 fat content in milk. For example, one percent milk has about one-third the fat of whole milk.
Many Americans have simply taken milk out of their diets due to lactose intolerance or other reasons.
However, if you’re still a milk drinker, this study suggests that you’ll benefit your heart and overall health by choosing full-fat organic milk and boosting your omega-3 intake relative to omega-6 fats.