Organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products, new research has shown:
• both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products
• organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats (myristic and palmitic acid) that are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
• organic milk contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
• organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids
• conventional milk contained 74% more of the essential mineral iodine and slightly more selenium
In the largest systematic reviews of their kind, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, UK, has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.
Analysing data from around the world, the team reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.
Publishing their findings today in the British Journal of Nutrition, the team say the data show a switch to organic meat and milk would go some way towards increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.
Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University explains:
“Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. “Western European diets are recognised as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends we should double our intake.
“But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way towards improving intakes of these important nutrients.” Western European diets are too low in omega-3 fatty acids
The systematic literature reviews analysed data from around the world and found that organic milk and meat have more desirable fat profiles than conventional milk and meat.
Most importantly, a switch from conventional to organic would raise omega-3 fat intake without increasing calories and undesirable saturated fat. For example, half a litre of organic full fat milk (or equivalent fat intakes from other dairy products like butter and cheese) provides an estimated 16% (39 mg) of the recommended, daily intake of very long-chain omega-3, while conventional milk provides 11% (25 mg).
Other positive changes in fat profiles included lower levels of myristic and palmitic acid in organic meat and a lower omega-3/omega-6 ratio in organic milk. Higher levels of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin E and carotenoids and 40% more CLA in organic milk were also observed.
The study showed that the more desirable fat profiles in organic milk were closely linked to outdoor grazing and low concentrate feeding in dairy diets, as prescribed by organic farming standards.
The two new systematic literature reviews also describe recently published results from several mother and child cohort studies linking organic milk, dairy product and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of certain diseases. This included reduced risks of eczema and hypospadias in babies and pre-eclampsia in mothers.
Newcastle University’s Professor Carlo Leifert, who led the studies, said:
“People choose organic milk and meat for three main reasons: improved animal welfare, the positive impacts of organic farming on the environment, and the perceived health benefits. But much less is known about impacts on nutritional quality, hence the need for this study.
“Several of these differences stem from organic livestock production and are brought about by differences in production intensity, with outdoor-reared, grass-fed animals producing milk and meat that is consistently higher in desirable fatty acids such as the omega-3s, and lower in fatty acids that can promote heart disease and other chronic diseases.”
Avoiding iodine over- and under-supply from milk is a challenge
The study also found 74% more iodine in conventional milk which is important information, especially for UK consumers, where iodized table salt is not widely available.
Iodine is low in most foods, except seafood, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends Iodine fortification of table salt to address this. Iodine fortification of cattle feeds is also widely used to increase iodine concentrations in both organic and conventional milk.
Gillian Butler, co-author and senior lecturer in animal nutrition at Newcastle University, explains:
“There is a relatively narrow margin between dietary Iodine deficiency (<140 µg/day) and excessive intakes (> 500 µg/day) from our diet which can lead to thyrotoxicoxis.
“Optimising iodine intake is therefore challenging, since globally there seems to be as much concern about excessive rather than inadequate intake.”
In the USA, China, Brazil and many European countries, where Iodine fortified salt is widely used, elevated levels of iodine in milk may increase the risk of excessive intake for individuals with high dairy consumption. For this reason the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has proposed a reduction in the permitted level of iodine in cattle feed from 5 to 2 mg iodine per kg of feed.
However, in the UK, where iodized salt is not widely available, the population relies more on milk and dairy products for adequate iodine supply. National Diet and Nutrition Survey data (NDNS) suggest that milk and dairy products supply between 31-52% of iodine in the UK diet.
The daily recommended intake of iodine in the UK is 140 µg/day and just over half comes from dietary sources other than milk/dairy products. Based on results from the study, half a litre of milk would provide 53% of and 88% of the daily recommended intake from organic and conventional milk respectively. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women have a higher iodine requirement (250 µg/day) and are therefore more at risk of iodine deficiency, which could affect neurological development in babies.
Further evidence of the health benefits of organic food
The work builds on a previous study by the team – involving experts from the UK, US, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway and Poland – investigating the composition of organic and conventionally-grown crops.
This previous study – also published in the British Journal of Nutrition – showed that organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops and contained less of the toxic metal cadmium.
“We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional food. Taken together, the three studies on crops, meat and milk suggest that a switch to organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products would provide significantly higher amounts of dietary antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids,” concludes Professor Leifert.
“We need substantially more, well designed studies and surveys before we can accurately estimate composition differences in meat from different farm animals and for many nutritionally important compounds (vitamins, minerals, toxic metal and pesticide residues), as there is currently too little data to make comparisons.
“However, the fact that there are now several mother and child cohort studies linking organic food consumption to positive health impacts shows why it is important to further investigate the impact of the way we produce our food on human health.
The authors highlight that only a small number of studies have been carried out comparing organic and non-organic meat, and that even significant results may still carry a high level of uncertainty.
Full bibliographic information The press release relates to two papers published in the same journal on the same day, Feb 16th 2016:“Higher PUFA and omega-3 PUFA, CLA, a-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic bovine milk: A systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analysis”. Carlo Leifert et al. British Journal of Nutrition.“Composition differences between organic and conventional meat; a systematic literature review and meta-analysis”. Carlo Leifert et al. British Journal of Nutrition.
New findings show that much of the mineral from which bone is made consists of ‘goo’ trapped between tiny crystals, allowing movement between them. It is this flexibility that stops bones from shattering.
Latest research shows that the chemical citrate – a by-product of natural cell metabolism – is mixed with water to create a viscous fluid that is trapped between the nano-scale crystals that form our bones.
This fluid allows enough movement, or ‘slip’, between these crystals so that bones are flexible, and don’t shatter under pressure. It is the inbuilt shock absorber in bone that, until now, was unknown.
If citrate leaks out, the crystals – made of calcium phosphate – fuse together into bigger and bigger clumps that become inflexible, increasingly brittle and more likely to shatter. This could be the root cause of osteoporosis.
The team from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry used a combination of NMR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, imaging and high-level molecular modelling to reveal the citrate layers in bone.
They say that this is the start of what needs to be an entire shift in focus for studying the cause of brittle bone diseases like osteoporosis, and bone pathologies in general. The study is published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Bone mineral was thought to be closely related to this substance called hydroxyapatite. But what we’ve shown is that a large part of bone mineral – possibly as much as half of it in fact – is made up of this goo, where citrate is binding like a gel between mineral crystals,” said Dr Melinda Duer, who led the study.
“This nano-scopic layering of citrate fluid and mineral crystals in bone means that the crystals stay in flat, plate-like shapes that have the facility to slide with respect to each other. Without citrate, all crystals in bone mineral would collapse together, become one big crystal and shatter.
“It’s this layered structure that’s been missing from our knowledge, and we can now see that without it you’re stuffed.”
Duer compares it to two panes of glass with water in the middle, which stick together but are able to slide: “it’s the same thing in these flat bone crystals. But you’ve got to have something that keeps the water there, stops it from drying out and stops the plates from either flying apart or sticking fast together. We now know that thing is citrate.”
Citrate is a ‘spidery’ molecule with four arms, all of which can bond easily to calcium – which bone is packed with, explains Duer. This means that citrate can hold the mineral crystals together at the same time as preventing them from fusing, while trapping the water that allows for the slippery movement which provides bone flexibility. “Without citrate, water would just flow straight through these gaps,” she said.
The body actually delivers bone calcium wrapped in citrate, to prevent it fusing with phosphate and forming large solid – and brittle – mineral crystals in the wrong places. Bone tissue has a protein mesh with holes where the calcium is deposited. In healthy tissue, the holes are very small, so that when the calcium is deposited, the citrate that comes with it can’t escape and is trapped between crystals – creating the flexible layers of fluid and bone plates.
As people age or suffer repeated bone trauma, the protein mesh isn’t repaired so well by the cells that try to replace damaged tissue, but often end up chewing away tissue faster than it can be re-deposited. This causes progressively larger holes in the protein mesh, citrate fluid escapes and crystals fuse together.
What happens then is pure chemistry, says Duer, with little biological control.
The body instigates a form of biological control through the tiny holes in the protein mesh that trap the citrate fluid, along with other molecules that normally control the deposit of mineral. These small spaces force the molecules to be involved with the forming mineral, controlling the process. But if you haven’t got the confined space the chemical reactions spiral out of control.
“In the bigger holes in damaged tissue, pure chemistry takes over. Pretty much the moment calcium and phosphate touch, they form a solid. You end up with these expanding clumps of brittle crystal, with water and citrate relegated to the outside of them,” she said.
“In terms of chemistry, that solid clump of mineral is the most stable structure. Biomechanically, however, it’s hopeless – as soon as you stand on it, it shatters. If we want to cure osteoporosis, we need to figure out how to stop the bigger holes forming in the protein matrix.”
The study is the first in a series of findings, with other studies from the team’s work on bone chemistry expected to come out later in the year.
Steve just uploaded his latest podcast on how to build strong healthy bones for a lifetime. Thanks Steve.
“My wife increased her bone density by 7 % in 7 years.”
I have worked with a lot of women regarding their bone health. It is one of the major concerns for women as they age. I know from personal experience as my wife went from osteopenia to osteoporosis by her mid 50s. This occurred even though she was on a quality bone support formula. She had the same result as thousands of other women who we desperate to stop the bone loss. Something was wrong.
The nutrients were all the reported required nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, vitamins D, B6 etc. These were the better of the formulas available in the early 2000s. My wife was looking for a solution that did not involve the drugs.
It was at this time that we learned something new about osteoporosis. We learned that strontium is used as a treatment for osteoporosis in some parts of the world. We learned of another nutrient called ipriflavone which has a similar benefit, and we were all learning about the importance of higher dose vitamin D3. So these were added to her supplement program. Her doctor was skeptical and wanted her to take a bisphosphonate bone building drug. No, thank you. As a result, her bone density was increased by nearly 4 percent in 4 years. Wow. She was then 60 years old and building bone.
Around 2010 we began to learn more about bone support nutrients.We discovered BioSil (orthosilisic acid) a specific form of collagen building silica. And we learned about vitamin K2. And so these were added to her program. The result after 2 more years was another 3 percent improvement in bone density. She is up 7 % in 7 years. She is soon due for her next bone density scan. Will this trend continue? It’s been an exciting result so far, and we anticipate continued benefit.
This is an expensive program to follow if you take everything my wife takes. So here is my list in declining order of importance. I have no basis for this other than personal experience of my wife and other women I have advised. You need to determine the program that you are comfortable with and can afford.
A high quality natural bone support formula – if you aren’t sure visit a knowledgeable health food store. There are now bone building formulas that include higher amounts of vitamin D3 and added K2. Some even include strontium as a separate formula. These may be the more cost effective but somewhat limited way to go. Look for quality brands and then compare formulas and price.
Vitamin D3 – Get tested and the adjust to the optimum dose for you.
Vitamin K2 – 80 to 100 mcg. per day.
BioSil – follow label directions.
Strontium – 680 mg. per day, taken apart from calcium.
ipriflavone – follow label directions.
In this podcast, I will give you my best advice for women who are concerned about osteoporosis. You can also print out a copy of my paper entitled “A Natural Approach to Bone Health”. You will find in depth interview on vitamin D3, K2 and BioSil at HealthQuestPodcast.com. Search the TAG INDEX to easily find all related content.
Roasted red peppers, mini crab cakes and Brazil nuts can all help to increase fertility. They will all feature in a special Fertility Buffet, laid on by Dr Margaret Rayman, Director of the MSc Course in Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey, on 3 July 2003.
A good, balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and protein sources such as meat, poultry and fish, is necessary to optimise fertility.
Meat is a good source of animal protein and important minerals such as iron and zinc, the latter being especially important for fertility. “Oysters are by far the best source of zinc, but they are not included in this meal, as they are out of season,” Dr Rayman explained. “Fatty fish is a very good source of n-3 fatty acids, which are important in the development of the fetus’ brain and vision.”
To give yourself the best chance of conceiving, alcohol and smoking should be avoided. This applies to both men and women, as there is evidence that sperm damage through smoking can predispose to cancer in the offspring.
All the dishes on the buffet were carefully selected by Vicky Chudleigh, State Registered Dietician from Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.
“The sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seed bread contains vitamin E, which is claimed to be an aphrodisiac because of its effects on boosting circulation. It is also an antioxidant and needed for fertility,” Vicky explained.
“Brazil nuts and mini crab cakes are both excellent sources of selenium and required for sperm motility. Without adequate selenium, sperm tails kink and break off. Selenium also minimises the risk of miscarriages.”
Roasted red peppers, tomatoes, pesto (containing basil) and of course, chocolate mousse, were all selected for their reputed aphrodisiac qualities.
Spinach, together with other dark green leafy vegetables, provide the folate required to reduce the risk of neural tube defect in the developing baby. The cheese platter not only contains calcium and zinc, but also vitamin A, which aids the production of sex hormones. They are all needed for healthy reproduction and libido.
The fertility buffet will not only be a gastronomic experience, but also forms part of the module, Pregnancy, Infancy & Childbirth in the Nutritional Medicine course, aimed at doctors. But there will be no retiring to the drawing room after dinner, as the doctors on the course will need to complete an assignment on dietary advice to give to their patients.
The Situation: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most peopleâ€™s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. â€œYou can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and thatâ€™s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,â€ says vom Saal. â€œI wonâ€™t go near canned tomatoes.â€
The Answer: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joeâ€™s and Pomi.
Siri Says: A very dear friend of ours sent us this 7 foods article. Oh, bummer! Every winter I buy a 12 pack of organic chopped tomatoes for my winter soups and stews. Well, of course, I didn’t buy them this winter and I tossed the last can. (Throwing food away — ouch!)
Do watch the video below. It is quite helpful. However, I’ll tel you now, there are no tomatoes in BPA-free cans, and you’ll have to search for those in glass. I found organic tomato sauce and canned sun-dried toms at my organic grocers. A brief google search was very unsatisfactory — with one food site trying to convince me that BPA in tomato cans wasn’t that big a deal!!!
We haven’t been lucky enough to have a big crop of summer tomatoes to can. But boy, we sure can grow tiny tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and Japanese egg plant! Odd about the tomatoes, isn’t it?
The Situation: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. â€œWe need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,â€ says Salatin.
The Answer: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmersâ€™ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. Itâ€™s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you donâ€™t see it, ask your butcher.
The Situation: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporizeâ€”and migrate into your popcorn. â€œThey stay in your body for years and accumulate there,â€ says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.
The Solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.
The FDA says it’s safe. How about you? Watch the Video.
The Situation: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoesâ€”the nationâ€™s most popular vegetableâ€”theyâ€™re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After theyâ€™re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. â€œTry this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It wonâ€™t,â€ says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). â€œIâ€™ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.â€
The Answer: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isnâ€™t good enough if youâ€™re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.
The Situation: Nature didnâ€™t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. â€œYou can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,â€ says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. â€œItâ€™s that bad.â€ Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.
The Answer: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, itâ€™s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.
Other costs and impacts of farmed salmon in the video.
6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
The Expert:Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.
TheÂ Situation: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. â€œWhen the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,â€ says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. â€œThereâ€™s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,â€ admits North. â€œHowever, itâ€™s banned in most industrialized countries.â€
The Answer: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.
For a little back story on the story you didn’t get, watch the video.
7. Conventional Apples
The Expert:Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods
The Situation: If fall fruits held a â€œmost doused in pesticides contest,â€ apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples donâ€™t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that itâ€™s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. â€œFarm workers have higher rates of many cancers,â€ he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinsonâ€™s disease.
The Answer: Buy organic apples. If you canâ€™t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.