Researchers at the U.K.’s Newcastle University who studied the nutritional profile of 22 different milk brands over two years have found that organic milk contains higher concentrations of certain beneficial nutrients than conventional milk.
The study, published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science, examined 12 conventional milk brands and 10 organic brands in summer and winter. It found that the organic milk brands contained higher concentrations of beneficial fatty acids, including polyunsaturated fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), than the conventional brands. In fact, levels of CLA in organic milk were an average of 30 per cent higher, while levels of omega-3 were 60 per cent higher.
Lead researcher Gillian Butler explained to the U.K.’s DairyReporter.com that the different nutrient profiles are due to cows on organic dairy farms consuming higher-quality grass and conserved grass. She also noted that the nutritional profiles and fat composition of organic and conventional milk changed over the years, as well as differing between brands, indicating that other factors, such as weather patterns and dairy management, influenced the content of fatty acids.
The U.K. Department of Health has noted that the conclusions of this study do not show organic milk is “better for you” than conventional milk, rather that organic milk contains a different combination of fats.