Is organic REALLY better for you?

We have all heard about organic being better for us and holding more nutritional value than conventional non-organic foods, but how do we know if this is true and if it is worth paying the price.

A recent study by Newcastle University has shown that organic meat and dairy (including milk, cheese and cream) can contain up to 50% more omega-3-fatty acids such as EPA, DPA and DHA.

The study also confirms that conventional milk contains 74% more of the minerals, iodine and Selenium. The Association of UK Dieticians state that a diet high in iodine can lead to thyroid problems. It has also been suggested that in the UK dairy products provide 35-50% of iodine intake so the consumption of organic milk with a balanced diet the total dietary intake is likely to be sufficient.

Organic milk was also found to contain significantly higher levels of a-tocopherol (Vitamin E) and iron both of which have a positive effect on the body in the appropriate amounts.

Organic livestock are heavily regulated by the European Union to ensure they meet the necessary standards to claim ‘organic’ status. These include ensuring they are reared outdoors for the majority of the year (this can vary dependant on region and breed) and that 60% of their feed must be fresh or conserved forages. Additional to this, supplementing the cereal based foods with minerals is permitted to give extra nutritional value.

The study concludes:

“high fresh forage intakes by grazing animals (as prescribes by organic farming standards) increases concentrations of nutritionally desirable fatty acids (e.g. PUFA, MUFA, omega-3 fatty acids, CLA) and antioxidants/ vitamins in milk, while high intakes of concentrates have the opposite effect”

The findings from this study highlights the necessity for further research to reinforce the potential health benefits of consuming organic dairy produce.

To read the full paper, as published in the British Journal of Nutrition, go to: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF

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