The idyllic image of cows grazing on grass—it seems like a fantasy these days, but now there’s hard evidence that it should be the norm.
Yesterday, a report published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that organic meat and dairy cows do, in fact, have a nutritional edge over their factory-farmed and grain-fed counterparts. The report, based on analysis of 263 papers from around the world, shows that that organic milk and meat both contain 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lower levels of myristic and palmitic acid—saturated fats both linked to heart disease. Plus, organic milk is richer in iron, vitamin E, and some carotenoids than the conventional equivalent. Turns out, it’s the grass-fed diet dictated by organic standards that gives these cows the leg up.
Omega-3s are essential to human health, as they play a vital role in brain function, normal growth and development, and reduce inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Low levels of omega-3s can trigger fatigue, memory failure, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation. Yet Americans don’t consume enough of these fatty acids, according to a 2014 report published in Nutrition Journal. Aside from increasing your intake of foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds, choosing organic, grass-fed meat is now a viable option to help meet this nutritional need.
This isn’t the first time that scientific evidence has made a case for going organic. Another study published in the same journal reported that organic crops are nearly 70 percent richer in key antioxidants—which may help manage and even prevent some cancers and age-related medical conditions—than conventional crops.
Could the tide be turning for the organic movement? While more consumers than ever are showing a greater demand for organic food, plenty of people remain unable to justify the extra expense. If you often find yourself hesitating about choosing the more expensive organic steak, here’s another reason to go for it.
Photo credit: matt northam via Flickr