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Omega-3 levels higher in organic milk, meat than in non-organic alternatives

Posted:  Thursday, December 31, 2015

Better health with organic foods! Organics have garnered a lot of attention and favourable reviews as healthy substitutes to the conventional foods. New studies have found that organic milk and meat have a greater content of omega-3 fatty acids compared to their non-organic alternatives.

The two studies, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, were based on a review of more than 260 papers on the nutritional content of milk and meat. Organic milk and meat products were found to have a 50% greater content of omega-3 fatty acids than the non-organic alternatives. Interestingly, the researchers had previously found that organic crops contain higher levels of antioxidants than non-organic alternatives.

Organic foods are grown or produced naturally without the use of chemicals. Half a litre of organic full-fat milk would provide about 16% (39 mg) of the recommended dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids compared to 11% (25 mg) from non-organic milk. The organic meat is lower in fatty acids such as myristic acid and palmitic acid, which promote heart disease. The organic milk has slightly higher levels of iron, vitamin E and some carotenoids.

However, the iodine content in non-organic milk was found to be 74% greater than that in organic milk. Iodine is crucial for the functioning of thyroid gland. Half a litre of organic milk would provide around 53% of the daily recommended intake of iodine, while non-organic milk would provide around 88%. Excess exposure to iodine through high dairy intake may accentuate the risk of developing thyrotoxicosis (an overactive thyroid gland).

Although further research is required, the researchers exclaimed, "We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional food. Taken together, the three studies on crops, meat and milk suggest that a switch to organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products would provide significantly higher amounts of dietary antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids."

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