(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2007) A new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, shows that organic dairy and meat products in a mother’s diet improve the nutritional quality of her breast milk – markedly increasing beneficial fatty acids.
Specifically, a diet in which 90% or more of dairy and meat products are organic is correlated with measurably higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than in a moderately organic diet or a conventional diet. CLA is a type of fat that is believed to have anti-carcinogenic, atherosclerotic (i.e. ability to prevent hardening of arteries), anti-diabetic and immune-enhancing effects, as well as a favorable influence on body fat composition. For newborns specifically, CLA is believed to especially aid immune system development.
“These findings provide scientific support for common sense, by showing that organic foods are healthier,” says Dr. Lukas Rist, Ph.D., who is the lead author of the study and the head of research at the Paracelsus Hospital in Switzerland. The study, “Influence of organic diet on the amount of conjugated linoleic acids in breast milk of lactating women in the Netherlands,” involved 312 breastfeeding women with 1-month old infants from the Netherlands and compared mothers on a strict organic diet, greater than 90% organic dairy/meat, to those on a moderately organic diet, 50-90% organic dairy/meat, and those on a conventional diet, no organic dairy/meat.
“Many consumers know, based on increasing media coverage of scientific and medical research, that organic foods reduce their exposure to pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, but this study shows that organic foods also offer superior nutritional quality,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “The benefits of consuming organic food are of paramount importance when thinking about their impact on the development of very young children and fetuses,” Ms. Vallaeys added.
Other recent studies add support to the growing literature on the measurable nutritional benefits of organic foods. Cows that acquire most of their nutrition from grazing pasture have been shown to produce milk with decreased levels of saturated fat – the “bad” type of fat – and increased concentrations of unsaturated fatty acids and CLA – the “good” types of fat.
Additionally, organically grown fruits and vegetables have numerous health benefits, including higher levels of antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals, than their conventionally grown counterparts, according to a 2006 study out of the University of Texas. A University of California at Davis study, published in 2003 found greater nutritional attributes in organically grown food, which the authors believe may result from the lack of insecticides and herbicides used (see Daily News story).
Source: Cornucopia Institute