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Have you ever stood at the grocery store and wondered whether that product labeled “organic” is actually worth the significantly higher price tag? Most people who buy organic do so to avoid exposure to things like pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and growth-promoting chemicals. But what if some organic products also offered more nutritious content?
Recent research on organic milk vs. regular milk shows just that: Organic milk contains a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for a variety of health conditions.
The Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio
While fats used to have a bad reputation, we now know that certain forms of fat are good for us. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids, meaning your body needs these nutrients to survive but cannot make them itself. In general, most people have diets that contain too little omega-3s and too many omega-6s.
You’ve likely heard of taking fish oil or another omega-3 supplement to improve your health. Omega-3s are beneficial for conditions like heart disease, arthritis, dementia, depression, and diabetes. There is especially strong evidence for the use of omega-3 fatty acids in lowering triglycerides, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in many popular cooking oils, including soybean, corn, and canola. These oils are used very often, which results in excess omega-6 fatty acids in the diet and adverse health effects. The ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is important for your health: You should be eating less omega-6 and more omega-3 fatty acids to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic disease, and being overweight.
The Difference Between Organic and Regular Milk
A recent study tested whole milk from both conventional and organic dairies across the U.S. over a period of 18 months. The study found that the omega-6/omega-3 ratio was 2.3 for organic milk samples and 5.8 for conventionally managed dairies. This significant difference in ratios showed the researchers that organic dairy practices do, in fact, alter the nutritional content of the milk products.
The cows that consumed significant amounts of grass and legume-based foraged food in an organic dairy setting produced milk that had less omega-6 and more omega-3 fatty acids. This difference translates into a healthier omega-6/omega-3 ratio for consumers who drink the milk. The researchers conclude that these kinds of “improvements in the nutritional quality of milk and dairy products should improve long-term health status and outcomes, especially for pregnant women, infants, children, and those with elevated cardiovascular disease risk.”
Buy Organic When You Can
So is paying a few extra dollars really worth the organic label? Research seems to be suggesting that yes, organic food is better for you. Not only can you reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals like pesticides and antibiotics, which can have long lasting and detrimental effects, but you can also get more nutrition out of your food if it is organic.
Share Your Experience
Do you think organic food is better for you? What are your reasons for buying organic products? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.