Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Organic milk has a significantly healthier balance of fatty acids than milk from cows on conventionally managed farms according to a Washington State University study.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that organic milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.3, compared to a ratio of 5.8 for conventional milk.
The higher that fatty acid ratio, the greater the associated health risks. Western diets are known to have an overall ratio of about 10-to-1 or 15-to-1, and researchers say a ratio of 2.3-to-1 can maximize heart health.
The scientists modeled the research around a hypothetical diet for women with a ratio of 11.3, attempting to bring it down to the optimum ratio of 2.3. They found that by replacing 3 daily servings of full-fat conventional dairy products with 4.5 servings of organic products, they could bring down the ratio by 40 percent.
“Surprisingly simple food choices can lead to much better levels of the healthier fats we see in organic milk,” said Charles Benbrook, the study’s lead author.
The lower ratio in fatty acids was attributed to cows grazing on pasture and forage-based feeds. The team also compared the fatty acids ratio in organic milk and fish.
“We were surprised to find that recommended intakes of full-fat milk products supply far more of the major omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, than recommended servings of fish,” said co-author Donald R. Davis.
According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2013 Organic Industry Survey, organic milk and cream sales were worth $2.622 billion, but only accounted for 4 percent of fluid milk sales.
[Washington State University] [PLOS ONE]