Organic Milk Contains 50% More Beneficial Omega‑3 Fatty Acids

BY Courtney Huckabay
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A new study finds clear differences between organic and non-​organic milk. In the largest study of its kind, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, UK, has shown that organic milk contains around 50% more beneficial omega‑3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.

Key findings:

  • organic milk contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid
  • 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

Analyzing data from around the world, the team reviewed 196 papers on milk and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.

Milk is essential to the 47.4% of U.S. adults who said they enjoy the beverage at least once during a typical week, in the recent AudienceSCAN survey.

Publishing their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition, the team says the data show a switch to organic milk would go some way toward increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.

Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University explains:

"Omega-​3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way towards improving intakes of these important nutrients."

If your advertisers are concerned about the higher cost of organic products deterring customers, rest assured. AudienceSCAN found that 45.5% of Milk Drinkers are willing to pay more for healthy, organic or locally grown food products.

The systematic literature reviews analyzed data from around the world and found that organic milk has more desirable fat profiles than conventional milk.

Most importantly, a switch from conventional to organic would raise omega‑3 fat intake without increasing calories and undesirable saturated fat. For example, half a litre of organic full fat milk (or equivalent fat intakes from other dairy products like butter and cheese) provides an estimated 16% (39 mg) of the recommended, daily intake of very long-​chain omega‑3, while conventional milk provides 11% (25 mg).

Higher levels of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin E and carotenoids and 40% more CLA in organic milk were also observed.

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.

That's a fine detail to share in ads that target eco-​minded audiences. According to AudienceSCAN, 17.4% of Milk Drinkers set personal goals to "be greener" in the next year.

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

Newcastle University's Professor Carlo Leifert, who led the studies, said:

"People choose organic milk for three main reasons: improved animal welfare, the positive impacts of organic farming on the environment, and the perceived health benefits. But much less is known about impacts on nutritional quality, hence the need for this study.

"Several of these differences stem from organic livestock production and are brought about by differences in production intensity, with outdoor-​reared, grass-​fed animals producing milk that is consistently higher in desirable fatty acids such as the omega-​3s, and lower in fatty acids that can promote heart disease and other chronic diseases."

Demonstrating how your advertisers support better livestock practices in spots and ads could win big with the Milk-​Drinking audience. According to AudienceSCAN, 27.4% support animal-​related causes with their time or money.