Some people choose organic foods because they are more animal-friendly or environmentally friendly. But are they more health-friendly? In some ways, they are, according to two meta-analyses. These meta-analyses found that organic meat and milk may contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), especially omega-3s, than non-organic meat and milk, and that some micronutrient levels are higher in organic milk compared to non-organic milk. For the meta-analyses, which were published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers analyzed data from 170 studies on milk and 67 studies on meat, comparing the nutrient content of organic products and non-organic products. They found that:
Organic meat contained 23% more PUFAs, and 47% more omega-3 PUFAS, than non-organic meat.
Organic milk contained 56% more total omega-3 PUFAs—including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—than non-organic milk.
Organic milk contained more vitamin E and iron than non-organic milk, but non-organic milk had slightly more selenium and much more iodine than organic milk.
If meat and milk are big players in your diet, these findings could have significant health implications. For example, replacing non-organic milk with organic milk could be a good way to up your omega-3 fatty acid intake. But, of course, if you do this, you may want to ensure that you’re getting enough iodine from other sources, such as from seafood, sea vegetables, and iodized table salt. This research on organic meat and milk joins other research on organic plant foods: a previous meta-analysis found organically grown food crops contained higher levels of antioxidants, lower levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium, and less pesticide residues than non-organic food crops. So, the next time you’re in the grocery store wondering whether to go with the organic version, remember that there’s a good chance the organic option is the healthier one.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition