A new study conducted by researchers at the Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) found that organic milk contained much higher levels of healthy fatty acids, also known as omega-3 compounds, than conventionally cultivated milk. The findings reinforce the notion long argued by, green living advocates that organic products are not only environmentally beneficial and of higher quality, but are also fundamentally more nutritious.
The study, which was published by the journal PLOS One, analyzed 384 samples of both conventional and organic milk from farms all over the country over a period of 18 months. The researchers used whole milk, as nonfat milk contains no omega-3 or omega-6 acids. They found that organic varieties contained 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent fewer omega-6 acids. While omega-6 acids are also nutritionally beneficial, some dieticians believe that humans should consume a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Drinking organic dairy seems help to accomplish that task.
The reason organic milk contains more of these fatty acids has to do with the fact that cows raised on organic farms are required to spend a certain amount of time outdoors eating grass, which is rich in these nutrients. Conventionally-raised cattle spend most of their time indoors eating corn, which is high in omega-6 compounds.
While there is some debate among scientists about the benefits of a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, the New York Times found that the scientific community largely supported the contention that organic milk was nutritionally superior to conventional milk.