Is there an advantage to buying organic whole milk over conventional milk? Recently, there was a study released that was interpreted as showing a “significant” health advantage to buying organic whole milk over regular whole milk because it contains a small difference in the amount of omega-3 fats. It received a lot of media attention, but does that mean you should switch to buying organic whole milk?
Here’s my take: the author overstated the significance. Here’s why:
1. Both organic milk and regular milk offer the same amounts of nutrients – in fact nine essential nutrients – like calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium, phosphorus and riboflavin to name a few. A glass of whole milk, whether organic or regular, contributes a SMALL fraction of the omega-3 fats we need each day.
2. Whole milk in particular is NOT a rich source of omega-3 fats. Never has been, never will be. You are better off getting your omega-3 fats from salmon, tuna or mackerel. That’s what I recommend to my clients.
3. As a registered dietitian, I buy fat-free milk for my family. I do this because it contributes to healthier hearts. I bought whole milk when my kids were between the ages of one and two, for their brain development. After that, we switched to what I recommend for my clients, fat-free milk. Same essential nutrients without the extra saturated fat. The American Heart Association agrees.
Whether you choose to buy organic or regular milk, the main point is that you buy what you can afford. Both are safe and nutritious and produced by highly committed dairy farmers.
And if you are looking for top sources of omega-3 fats? The best sources are (in this order): flax and flax oil, chia seeds, walnuts, farmed salmon, wild salmon, soybeans and herring. It is important to note that the plant sources of omega-3s (like flax, chia, walnuts and soybeans) are not as well absorbed as the animal sources. So, make it a point to eat a variety of sources of omega-3s from this list. And be sure to drink a glass of fat-free milk with it (for its nine essential nutrients, of course).