Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses (PDF, 1.6Mb), British Journal of Nutrition. But not all milk is created equal. Read our, The Spruce Eats uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Researchers found a difference in the fatty acid compounds in organic milk. Most brands of organic milk are sterilized at very high temperatures (around 280 F), so it can keep for up to two months. Organic dairy producers feed their animals with crops grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. The researchers also carried out a study to identify what might have caused the differences in nutrient levels. There are certainly some advantages to organic milk, but they may or may not be enough to pay a premium. What Are the Pros and Cons of Grass-Fed Beef? The researchers looked for studies published from 1992 (when legal standards for farms describing themselves as organic were introduced into the EU) and 2014. This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing the nutritional content of organically-produced and conventionally-produced fresh milk. higher level of certain fatty acids – linked to better heart health – in organic milk Importantly, we do not know if any of these results would actually have a significant impact on long-term health outcomes. Overall levels of saturated fat did not differ between the two production methods. US Federal Register. Some organic producers adhere to more sustainable practices than this but most do not. Alternatively, you can buy non-organic milk that has been sterilized at high temperatures and will last longer. I’ve been using organic milk for quite a while and have come to discover reasons why it is a better choice. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health. This kill much more of the bacteria & spores than does conventional pasteurization. And you may wonder if the nutritional benefits of organic milk differ from other choices. When these benefits and the longer shelf life of organic milk are considered, it's easy to see why organic milk can be a good buy. Iodine is needed by the body to produce the thyroid hormone, and selenium helps to protect against cell damage. ), it can be confusing. The Metro was also uncritical, suggesting that if you buy organic you could "give yourself a pat on the back". Healthier Milk = Healthier Kids Milk can help provide kids with the nutrients and vitamins they need to build strong bones and healthy muscles. There is not any significant body of scientific evidence supporting the nutritional superiority of organic milk. 3. Organic cows are happier and healthier which leads to more nutritious milk Standard systematic review and meta-analysis techniques were used. Is organic milk actually better for you than conventional milk? Is there a difference in type of fats in the milk produced by grass-fed and organic cows as compared to conventional cows? They also say organic production is better for the environment and kinder to animals. The Guardian and The Independent took a more neutral viewpoint, providing quotes from the researchers, as well as critics of the research. The study was carried out by researchers from a large number of universities and research institutes across Europe, including Newcastle University, the Norwegian Institute for Biochemistry Research and Warsaw University of Life Sciences. Organic milk very often uses UHT pasteurization (Ultra high temp). How to Use Chia Seeds and Flour in Gluten-Free Recipes, Get the Facts on Organic and Free-Range Eggs. One big advantage of organic milk has over regular milk is its shelf life. Ultimately systematic reviews and meta-analyses are only as good as the information you feed into them. The researchers said that results varied a lot by country or geographic region. A new study has shown definitively that organic milk is better for you than regular milk. Marc Lallanilla is a sustainable living and green design expert. A diet containing too many omega-6 … Milk is not a major source of iron or vitamin E in the diet. When compared to conventional milk, there may be a difference in the fat content of both grass-fed and organic cow milk. The Mail Online was uncritical of the study, saying it "found clear differences" between organic and conventional food, calling it a "landmark study". While both milk choices have a very similar nutrient base, organic products often have less human handling and interaction and less chemicals and hormones, which makes for a healthier product overall. Średnicka-Tober D, Barański M, Seal C, et al. They used data from a big European farm survey to identify the practices linked to composition of organic and conventional milk. The result of the meta-analysis of 170 research studies was published in the March 2016 issue. Milk and milk products are especially important for infants and children and can help provide them with the nutrients and vitamins they need to build strong bones and healthy muscles. The UK media was split in its reaction. It was funded by the European Community and the Sheepdrove Trust. In many cases, people prefer organic food and drinks for environmental and animal welfare reasons, so health issues may not be that important to them. A new research study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found organic milk really is better! The news is the conclusion of two reviews looking at the available evidence on the potential benefits of organic meat and milk compared to their conventionally-farmed counterparts. As a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, he also covers science, health, and environmental topics. 2011;65(3):106-111.  doi:10.3733/ca.v065n03p106. Close menu. Both conventional and organic dairy farmers have environmentally friendly practices. This fact alone qualifies organic products to be healthier products on a general scale which includes organic milk. Because regular pasteurized milk is heated to only 165 F or lower, it doesn't have the same long shelf life. If you have any concerns about possible residue from drug use, it certainly makes sense to buy organic. Get daily tips and expert advice to help you take your cooking skills to the next level. Średnicka-Tober D, Barański M, Seal CJ, et al. Organic meat and milk could offer health benefits, study suggests, Organic food healthier than farmed products, says new research, Why eating organic is healthier as well as kinder to animals, 'Headline-making and speculative health claims over organic foods stretch credibility to the limit', How going organic CAN boost our health: Milk and meat found to have higher levels of nutrients that aid the heart, brain and immune system. If it turns out that they don't use the drugs, you may be able to save a little money. It would be unwise to assume that organic foods and drinks are having a protective effect on your heart health if you neglect other important factors, such as your weight, exercise levels and alcohol consumption. Benbrook CM, Butler G, Latif MA, Leifert C, Davis DR. Organic production enhances milk nutritional quality by shifting fatty acid composition: a United States-wide, 18-month study. They found that – with these hypothetical diets – switching to organic milk had about the same effect on overall fatty acid profiles as increasing consumption of conventional milk. Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis (PDF, 837kb), steps you can take to improve your heart health, 56% more omega-3 fatty acid than conventionally-produced milk (95%, 69% more alpha-linoleic acid (95% CI 53 to 84%), 41% more conjugated linoleic acid (95% CI 14 to 68%); however, the effects of conjugated linoleic acid on human health are unclear from research. But switching to foods lower in omega 6 fatty acids helped to change the ratio for the better. Charles Benbrook, professor of Agriculture at Washington State University and former chief scientist at The Organic Center reviewed the Stanford study and responded: “This study draws a markedly different conclusion than I do about the nutritional benefits of organic crops. This is something that may be a plus or minus, depending on your taste preferences. It is concluded that organic bovine milk has a more desirable fatty acid composition than conventional milk. Organic milk can also be labeled grass-fed if it adheres to the standards of both practices. Organic milk is also supposed to be better for the cows, since they have access to pasture, instead of being stuck in a feedlot. Many people who want to protect their heart choose not to drink full-fat milk. That makes this choice a challenging one for most, and a choice that some people don’t even have the option to make. These milk 'additives' are used to help cows produce more milk and can include antibiotics, pesticides (used on the feed the cows eat), and synthetic growth hormones. And people seem to be catching on, buying organic products in such high numbers that demand is at all all-time high. The latter is a charity that supports research into organic farming practices. However, organic milk is free of these extras. Alternatively, you can do a little research into the dairies that sell their regular milk products in your area. Organic milk mirrors the benefits of all dairy milk. They pooled the data to get average figures, looking at specific nutrient levels in organic and non-organic fresh cows' milk. Thanks to that access to grass, the nutrients values in organic milk tend to be a little higher than those in conventional milk. Meanwhile, conventional milk production results in overall lower greenhouse gas emissions as cow productivity increases. However, all the included studies were considered to be at high or unclear risk of bias because they didn't report results or methods in full, or didn't give enough detail about possible confounding factors. They said the results suggested that people wishing to increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could switch to organic milk as a "complementary dietary approach". The meta-analysis only looked at cows' milk, although the study as a whole reported on results from some trials on sheep, goat and buffalo milk. But when conducting the farm studies three years ago they found these benefits only occurred during the summer. Certainly not all organic milk tastes better than all conventional milk; I can guarantee you that the best milk I have (easily) available to me is non-bio microfiltered milk from pastured cattle. We decided to focus our efforts on the milk review, as it is the larger of the two studies. They also investigated what other factors could have influenced their results, including geographical differences that could affect (for example) the nutrients in grass. The study was published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Nutrition on an open-access basis, so it is free to read online (PDF, 1.6Mb). 2013;8(12):e82429. Regular Milk: Which is better? The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. The milk obtained from cows that are fed only natural grass without any food supplements and not subjected to any treatment for enhancing the milk yield is called organic milk in real sense of term. Even if you did drink half a litre of full-fat organic milk a day, that would only give you a small proportion of the fatty acids recommended – and you would be getting the same level of saturated fats as drinking conventional milk. Studies looking at this, such as a cohort or randomised study, would be required to provide some sort of answer. Without good-quality studies that look at the effects on health of consuming mainly organic food, we can't really tell whether organically-produced food is better for our health. Advocates claim that milk from cows that graze in pastures contains more conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), which is a healthy fat that some research shows might have health benefits. Organic milk has more of the good stuff and none of the antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or controversial pesticides. How Organic Milk Differs From Regular Milk. In contrast, there's little evidence about the effect of conjugated linoleic acid on human health. The differences in vitamin and nutrient levels are small, and as the researchers note, the vitamins and minerals (vitamin E and iron) found at higher levels in organic milk are unlikely to have much effect on human health, as other foods provide much more of them in our regular diets. In 2010, the USDA closed a loophole in their organic regulations, so all organic dairy cattle must now spend much of the year grazing in open pastures, as opposed to feedlots or indoor feeding pens. While this may seem more natural and healthy, there is some controversy over whether it makes the milk healthier. Advocates say organic food is safer, possibly more nutritious, and often better tasting than non-organic food. Parents are constantly wondering what milk to buy for their children and with so many options (organic, skim, lowfat, 2%, grass-fed milk, whole milk, chocolate milk, nut milk, etc. In addition, regular milk is tested to be sure there is little or no drug residue in products sent to the market. Just be aware that you’ll have the good bacteria as well as the bad in your milk. More milk from the cow equals less nutrients for those who consume it. Published online February 16 2016. "Organic meat and milk could offer health benefits, study suggests," The Guardian reports. Studies show that Omega-3 can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve neurological development and function, and strengthens immune function.. Is Organic Food Better for You? Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid have been associated with improvements in heart health, though causation has yet to be established. The first was that at the supermarket organic milk had better uniform quality throughout the year and this was regardless of price paid. They tested the results for reliability and came up with percentage differences for organic and non-organic milk. Some consumers believe that, for health reasons alone, it's worth paying extra for organic milk. Firstly, the beneficial fats specified in this study are found in dairy fat, so would be a very small constituent of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. Organic production enhances milk nutritional quality by shifting fatty acid composition: a United States-wide, 18-month study, Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health, National organic program; access to pasture (livestock). Organic milk keeps longer because it’s pasteurized differently. Two products, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, also known as BGH, recombinant bovine somatotropin or rBST) and antibiotics, are said to be found in regular milk but not in organic milk. To the contrary, he said, drinking all types of milk provides healthy omega fatty acids; it’s just that organic milk does better. Much regular milk packaging will include claims on the label stating the milk does not contain antibiotics or growth hormones. There's little argument that organic farming and dairy practices are better for the environment, if only because of their reduced use of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other synthetic chemical compounds. PLoS ONE. Scientists at Washington State University, Newcastle University (United Kingdom) and Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative have completed the first large-scale, U.S. milk-fat composition survey comparing milk from organic and conventional farms. If you want to get the best of all worlds – protect animals and the environment and optimise nutrition, buy raw (non-pasteurized, non-homogenized, non-UHT) organic milk (if you can find it). The study found some differences in nutrient levels. Organic Milk vs. But is it really better for us? Organic milk does not contain antibiotics and pesticides. Which is better: organic milk or regular milk? And the fatty acid content of milk can change with the season and with the cow’s diet. Is the conventional lettuce more likely to carry pathogens? They say drinking the equivalent of half a litre of full-fat organic milk would provide an estimated 16% of the recommended daily allowance of omega-3 fatty acids, compared to 11% if you drank the same amount of conventional milk. However, an even better choice is organic raw milk. Intensive farming. There's little argument that organic farming and dairy practices are better for the environment, if only because of their reduced use of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other synthetic chemical compounds. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082429, Zivkovic AM, Telis N, German JB, Hammock BD. The Daily Telegraph reported that the study "sparked a row among nutritionists," some of whom claimed the results "stretch credibility". February 17, 2010. They said differences in cows' food explained much of the difference in nutritional levels, with more grazing on grass and silage (as is more common in organically-reared cattle) linked to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Indeed, the latest guidance from NICE does not recommend supplements of omega-3 for prevention of heart attacks, although it acknowledges that taking them does not appear to cause harm. Can it really reduce your consumption of saturated fats? Is organic milk production more environment-friendly? It’s a minimally processed, naturally nutrient-rich beverage that contains a mix of important nutrients you and your kids need. Organic milk production observes very strict guidelines implemented by the European Union. Even if you like the sound of organic milk, its practices come at a price ― a steep one. Regular milk also has strict federal regulations for safety — so it’s a perfectly safe and nutritious choice. On the other hand, neither growth hormones nor antibiotics are as popular as they were (in part because consumers complained), so many regular dairies avoid these drugs. This would be 11g – over half the recommended 20g maximum daily saturated fat intake for women, or over a third of the 30g recommended for men. Calif Agric (Berkeley). If you only have a choice between organic pasteurized dairy or conventional pasteurized dairy, organic may be the better option – especially if it's from grass-fed cows. Environmentally, organic milk is better. On the other hand, high-temperature sterilization can make milk sweeter. A2 milk is about twice the price of regular milk. Menu The authors found few studies on fatty acids in milk; all (but for one) were of raw milk, and suggest that raw organic milk may contain significantly more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and vaccenic acid than raw conventional milk. If you're concerned about milk going bad in your refrigerator, organic milk might actually save you money because it will last much longer. The less milk a cow produces, the more vitamins in her milk. There are other factors worth bearing in mind. It might be fun to try a blind tasting of the various organic and conventional milks you have available. The researchers said their results showed that switching from conventional to organic dairy farming, "will result in substantive improvements in milk fat composition," although they admit there are "virtually no studies in which the impacts of organic food consumption on animal or human health were assessed". However, it also changes the taste & the nutritional content of the milk. The reason organic milk is healthier comes down to its ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is lower than in regular milk. Is the organic milk better for your kids? MYTH #2: Organic dairy cows are healthy cows. While the researchers have shown that some potentially beneficial fats are higher in organic milk than conventional milk, we don't know how much of an effect this would have on people's health. National organic program; access to pasture (livestock). The main result that researchers found was a higher level of certain fatty acids – linked to better heart health – in organic milk. As noted, organic products in general, compared to non-organic, have a lesser amount of chemical interference and human action involved in their production. This reduces the reliability of the results. Fatty acid ratio better, but that might not matter A study done by Washington State University researchers suggests that organic milk, produced by cows eating primarily pasture grass and hay, provides a better ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. 165 F or lower, it does n't have the same long shelf life the sound of milk! The bacteria & spores than does conventional pasteurization the facts on organic and non-organic milk that been. Levels in organic milk or regular milk immune function. milk really is:. On, buying organic products in such high numbers that demand is at all all-time high has regular... Only relevant guideline for organic milk milk or regular milk development and function, and often better tasting non-organic! 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