Dairy Farmers of Washington React to WSU Study of Organic Whole Milk

Dairy Farmers of Washington React to WSU Study of Organic Milk
Today Washington State University (WSU) researcher and organic advocate Dr. Charles Benbrook distributed a news release concerning a new study that he interprets as showing a health advantage for organic full-fat (“whole”) milk over regular whole milk due to its fatty acid profile.
 
The study shows statistically significant, yet small, differences in the fatty acid profiles of organic and regular whole milk.  Milk contributes just a small amount of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids we need each day, so we believe the author has overstated the significance of this finding.
 
The WSU study applies only to full-fat milk.  Milkfat has a number of fatty acids that are thought to have potential health benefits but the research is just emerging and the study authors may have overestimated the benefits that these fatty acids – and changing the ratios among them – would provide.  The premise that the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids we eat affects our health is popular among some critics of processed foods, but it is not currently reflected in mainstream dietary guidelines.  Those who support this theory say the healthiest fats are omega-3s (found principally in fish) and that omega-6s compete with omega-3s in the body – so the ratio of these two forms of polyunsaturated fats is important, they claim.
 
Further research in the way fatty acid ratios impact human health is needed.  Our best recommendation is that consumers should avoid over-reacting to the findings of a single study until those findings can be replicated in additional research.
 
Both regular and organic milk deliver a powerhouse of nutrients in an appealing, affordable and readily available way. Research shows organic and regular milk are equally safe and nutritious. So, consumers can feel good about choosing either kind – because all milk is made with sound on-farm practices and offers the same nutritional benefits.
 
Many health experts recommend low-fat and fat-free milk since it has all the nutrition of whole milk, with fewer calories.  Whole, reduced-fat, low-fat and fat-free milk have many essential nutrients beyond fatty acids that are important to health and wellness – including calcium, potassium, Vitamins A, D and B12, protein, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), phosphorus and Niacin (niacin equivalents).
 
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