A “groundbreaking new study” published in the British Journal of Nutrition has shown that organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than their non-organic equivalents.
The difference in omega-3 has been attributed to organic cattle eating more natural, grass-based diets containing high levels of clover, used as an alternative to chemical fertilisers in organic farming to fix nitrogen so that crops and grass can grow. Scientists have been able to link clover with an increase in the omega-3 concentration of meat and milk products.
The study also showed that organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of saturated fats linked to heart disease; while organic milk and dairy contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, vitamin E and some carotenoids, less iodine than non-organic milk, as well as 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
CLA has been linked to a range of health benefits including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, and obesity.
Researchers from Newcastle University found that, in addition to organic milk and meat, the nutritional differences apply to organic dairy such as butter, cream, cheese and yogurt.
Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning said: “This research confirms what many people have always thought was true – what you feed farm animals and how you treat them affects the quality of the food, whether it’s milk, cheese or a cut of meat. These scientists have shown that all the hard work organic farmers put into caring for their animals pays off in the quality of the food they produce – giving real value for money.
“Organic farming methods require all organic farmers to adopt techniques that guarantee nutritionally different foods. Following research in 2014 confirming nutritional differences between organic and non-organic crops like fruit and vegetables – we can now say for certain that organic farming makes organic food different.”
Richard Smith, senior farms manager for organic meat producer Daylesford Organic, added: “We farm organic red meat on a grass-based, home-grown forage diet which delivers a superb quality. In addition to other benefits of producing food in an organic system, this landmark paper now also confirms what we’ve always known; there is also a significant nutritional difference between organic and non-organic.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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