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Study says organic milk is healthier than conventional milk

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The organic vs. conventional food debate continues. A recent study from Washington State University gives another win to organic, at least when it comes to milk.

In a study published Monday, in the journal PLOS One, researchers found whole milk from organic dairies contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk.

This is the most clear-cut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart. Studies looking at organic fruits and vegetables have been less conclusive, when it comes to nutritional differences.

Research professor at WSU, Charles M. Benbrook says drinking whole organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease. All milk is healthy and good for people, but organic milk is better, because it has a more favorable balance of these fatty acids." Oomega-3's are typically found in fish and flaxseed.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the organic milk was 2.28, much lower than the 5.77 ratio in conventional milk. But these figures don't apply to nonfat milk, which doesn't have fatty acids.

A shift to drinking organic whole milk would help toward lowering the ratio, although adjustments would have to be made elsewhere in the diet to offset added calories of from the fat in the milk.

Some doctors say milk is not essential to a healthy diet. Adults in many countries drink little or no milk.

But Dr. Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health, who has conducted research on the effects of fatty acids on heart disease, said animal studies showed that high levels of omega-6s interfered with omega-3s. But, he cautioned that the mix of omega-3s in milk is different from that in fatty fish. The simple ratio, he said, “is not as meaningful as we would like it to be.”

Organic Valley helped put on the study. George Siemon, chief executive of Organic Valley, said he was hoping to gain a better idea of how organic foods differ from conventionally produced ones.

He says, “Organics have lacked a science base. I just wanted to know.”

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