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Is Organic Milk Really Better Than Conventional?

We all know that milk does a body good, but today's milk options look a lot different than they have in the past. There is of course still cow milk, but almond, soy, and coconut milks have exploded in popularity thanks to a new generation of health-concious consumers. With that has come a large boom in the organic industry, specifically for perishable foods like fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. But the question still remains: are organic products, and specifically milk, better for us?

The short answer would be that yes, organic milk is better for you. While the price of organic milk is a few dollars higher per gallon than conventional milk, the peace of mind that you are putting something good into your body should be worth it. In order to be certified organic by the USDA, milk must come from cows that have not been treated with hormones, antibiotics, and fed only a 100% organic diet. Organic milk also features more CLA and omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.

To get the most out of your milk, it is best to choose skim milk over 1%, 2% or whole. Skim milk has only 85 calories per serving and zero grams of fat. In addition, skim milk actually has more calcium than whole milk, helping to promote bone health and fight osteoperosis. While many believe the fats in whole milk are good for them, the truth is that 4.5 grams of saturated fat per serving nixes any benefits from the CLA in it.

On the other side of that coin is the belief that organic and other milk that features additional omega-3 fatty acids do not do as much for you as other foods with the same ingredients. Milk that has been fortified with CLA and omega-3s are really just like taking a supplement in capsule or pill form. The best way to get these healthy fats is to have at least two servings of fresh-caught fish such as salmon per week.

If the milk you purchase has UHT on the label, this stands for ultra-high-­temperature processing. Milk treated this way is heated to at least 275 degrees Fahrenheight for one to two seconds. This process removes even more bacteria than traditional pasteurization, which already kills 99.9% of bacteria in milk. UHT processing can increase the shelf life of milk by about one month or six months for boxed milk. However, the process can bring down some of the vitamin B offerings of the milk.

If you do not consume dairy, you can always get the nutrients that organic milk offers from other foods. Leafy greens and white beans offer lots of calcium, especially if they are fresh and organic. If you eat fish, salmon is an excellent source of essential acids and omega-3s. Supplements always work too but don't overdo it; too much calcium can put you at risk for heart disease. The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 miligrams. 

Organic milk may be better for you, but don't forget about the financial cost. If you can afford it, then it is certainly the way to go. Conventional milk is also fine, but carries with it more growth hormones and antibiotics than you may care to consume.

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