New study finds clear differences between organic and non-organic milk and meat

Organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products, new research has shown.

Key findings are set out in a press release from Newcastle University.

• 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

An international team of experts led by Newcastle University, in the United Kingdom, reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat.

It found 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.

Publishing its findings in the British Journal of Nutrition, the team say the data show a switch to organic meat and milk would go some way towards increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.

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.

The two new systematic literature reviews also describe recently published results from several mother and child cohort studies linking organic milk, dairy product and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of certain diseases. This included reduced risks of eczema and hypospadias in babies and pre-eclampsia in mothers.

The press release relates to two papers published in the same journal on the same day –

  • “Higher PUFA and omega-3 PUFA, CLA, a-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic bovine milk: A systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analysis”. Carlo Leifert et al. British Journal of Nutrition
  • “Composition differences between organic and conventional meat; a systematic literature review and meta-analysis”. Carlo Leifert et al. British Journal of Nutrition.
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