Is organic food better for your health? British scientists have found an answer - at least for milk and meat from organically-farmed animals.
Milk and meat from organically-farmed livestock contain more healthy nutrients than conventionally-produced food. That's been confirmed by British researchers in a meta-study carried out by Newcastle University. They compared the results of more than 190 milk studies and more than 60 meat studies. Their findings: organic milk and organic meat contain about 50 percent more healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Half a liter of organic milk supplies about 39 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, comopared to just 25 milligrams in conventionally produced milk. Beyond that, organic milk contains about 40 percent more linoleic acid. The scientists also found differences in levels of vitamins and trace elements: organic milk contains more fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E and carotinoids, as well as more iron.
In contrast, they found nearly 75 percent more iodine in conventional milk than in organic milk, because in Europe, fodder is enriched with iodine. A higher iodine content in milk makes sense in regions where iodine deficiency is widespread, but when people also use iodized salt, overdoses could occur if they consume large amounts of conventionally-produced milk.
In organic meat, analyses found lower amounts of saturated fatty acids such as myristic acid and palmitic acid, which the experts also evaluated positively.
How do such differences in nutrients occur? The researchers attributed them first and foremost the how cattle are raised. Organic cattle spend more time outdoors in meadows. They eat more grass and hay than high-concentrate feed or silage. That seems to influence their metabolism, and thus the contents of their milk and meat. Eating less high-concentrate feed leads to cattle growing more slowly and producing less milk, The interaction between green fodder and growth deceleration probably leads to a healthier balance of fats.