According to a new study, dairy cows fed flaxseed produce more nutritious milk. Specifically, their milk was found to contain higher levels of healthy omega-3 fats and less saturated fat than milk and other dairy products from cows given traditional cattle feed.
This is very relevant for our health, because diets high in saturated fat have been shown to lead to heart disease, while those rich in omega-3 and other healthy polyunsaturated fats reduce the risk of heart disease.
In this study, ten pregnant cows were fed different amounts of flaxseed. Their milk was turned into butter and fresh cheese, which were tested for texture and nutritional composition.
Study authors found that feeding cows up to six pounds of flaxseed improved the fat profile of their milk without affecting its production. Saturated fats dropped 18% while polyunsaturated fat levels increased by 82%. Levels of omega-3 fats rose by a staggering 70% compared to traditional feed. Similar improvements were also seen in butter and cheese.
Although flaxseed costs more than traditional cattle feeds, many consumers have shown their willingness to pay extra for value-added foods, like omega-3 enriched milk.
In nature, omega-3 fats are made mainly by cold-water algae and are present naturally in the fat of fish such as sardines, wild salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna that feed on these plants. Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA is the plant form of omega-3 fats found in walnuts, flaxseed, canola and soybean oil and green leafy vegetables.
Omega-6 fats are found in large concentrations in corn oil, safflower and sunflower oils, margarine and low-fat foods, as well as in meat and eggs.
Our body needs both omega-3 and omega-6 fats to function and cannot make them on its own. Both these essential fats are converted within our body into biologically active substances - which work together to control many vital bodily functions such as muscle contraction, blood thickness and inflammation with a high level of sensitivity.
As long as they are in balance, our bodies remain healthy. However, the typical American diet contains a staggering 20–50 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats!
Countless studies have shown that increased amounts of omega-6 fats in the diet are associated with rising rates of heart disease, arthritis, asthma, insulin resistance, metabolic disorder, diabetes and cancer.
So what can you do to restore your omega-3 fat balance and your health?
Well, you could wait for cows fed with flaxseed to become a commercial reality, or eat omega-3 fat-enriched milk, eggs and butter. You could also ensure that you regularly consume fatty fish, walnuts, almonds and other foods naturally rich in omega-3 fats.
You can also include a fish oil supplement that gives you all the benefits of omega-3 fats!
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