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). CLA is a type of fat that is believed to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, 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, who is the lead author of the study and the head of research at the Paracelsus Hospital in Switzerland. The study involved 312 breastfeeding women with 1-month old infants from the Netherlands.
"The study shows that breastfeeding mothers can influence the supply and quality of fatty acids for their infants, by eating a diet with organic dairy," adds Rist.
Other recent studies support the growing body of evidence that organic foods offer measurable nutritional benefits. 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.
"Many consumers know 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," Vallaeys added.
"There is a synergy and logic to the approach that organic farmers take in their production model," said Dave Minar of Cedar Summit Dairy, an organic farmstead producer in New Prague, Minnesota. "Concentrating on the health and fertility of soil results in pastures and feed of superior nutritional quality-and that results in incredibly vibrant, healthy livestock. It should be no surprise that an increasing body of scientific evidence supports the benefits of an organic diet, especially for infants and children."
From the July 30, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash