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Organic milk and beef are way healthier for you, studies show

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

The latest in the seemingly never-ending, more-bang-for-your-organic-buck debate: Studies show that the omega-3 fatty acid levels in organic milk and meat are 50 percent higher than in their non-organic counterparts, The New York Times reports.

“The fatty acid composition is definitely better,” Carlo Leifert, the leader of an international team of scientists who performed the review of two studies (published in The British Journal of Nutrition), told the Times.

So why the higher omega-3s (which, quick reminder, improve your metabolism, immune system, and brain performance, along with giving you a major beauty boost)? Organic regulations against antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified feed are not the reason, the researchers say.

“It’s not something magical about organic,” Charles M. Benbrook, an organic industry consultant and an author of the studies, told the Times. “It’s about what the animals are being fed.” Grazing on grass outside—as opposed to eating lots of grain, as conventionally raised cows do—is what led to the jump in omega-3s, he says.

So most of the same changes would be observed in conventionally raised animals—if only they munched on grass instead of grain. “For once, this is a pretty simple story,” Benbrook says.

But until conventional pastures feed their cows grass, shelling out for organic gives you an extra helping of healthy fats—without adding any more antibiotics, extra hormones, or GMOs to your diet. —Alison Feller

Let the debate rage on! And, in the meantime, be sure to brush up on your meat label-reading skills so you know the difference between pasture-raised, grass-fed, and organic.