- Published: 19 February 2016
A new study published today, 16 February 2016, in the British Journal of Nutrition shows organic meat and milk contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic. It also revealed that organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease. The study is the largest systematic review of its kind and led by Newcastle University and an international team of experts.
The difference in Omega 3 is because organic animals eat a more natural grass-based diet. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid - the body cannot make it from scratch but must get it from food – and it has been widely reported that it helps to prevent heart disease and stroke.
At Eastbrook Farm in Wiltshire, a leading organic farm and home of the Helen Browning’s Organic pork brand, there is a strong focus on efficient production from grassland, achieving excellent results. There are around 750 acres of leys, a combination of grasses including red and white clovers and herbs, with the 2,000 pig herd enjoying a varied diet of forage and organic cereals.
“Just as with humans, the varied diet of our pigs is reflected in their high levels of well-being and good health,” says Tim Finney, Managing Director of Helen Browning’s Organic. “Our livestock have access to 50 or 60 different grasses at various times of the year. The pigs love it. The new study confirms what we have always intuitively known, that how we farm affects the quality of the food we eat.”
Clover is used in organic farming to fix nitrogen so that crops and grass grow, instead of using chemical fertilisers, and this research has found that clover also increases the Omega 3 concentrations in meat and milk. Under organic standards, organic cows must eat a 60% fresh grass based diet or hay/silage (conserved grass). Helen Browning’s beef livestock enjoy a 90% forage diet.
The new study follows research from Newcastle University published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 which found organic crops are of a much higher nutritional quality than their non-organic counterparts.
Organic animals enjoy the highest welfare standards of any farmed animals. Over the past 30 years Helen Browning and her team has researched and refined the very best combinations of pig breeds and organic farming methods to deliver pork that is well marbled with fat and full of flavour. The range of Helen Browning’s Organic pork products is available in multiple and independent retailers.
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Note to editors
Samples, interviews, images available on request.
Background – Helen Browning’s Organic
Helen Browning OBE, a pioneer of the organic farming industry, has been farming organically on the Wiltshire Downs for almost 30 years. There are over 2,000 pigs living at Eastbrook Farm, and the breeding herd are pure British Saddlebacks. Full Soil Association accreditation along the complete supply chain guarantees that the customer receives an authentic organic product which tastes great and supports British Farmers.
“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
Background information about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids and iodine in our diet can be found here - WHO fatty acid guidelines.
Research from Newcastle University published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 found organic crops are of a much higher nutritional quality than their non-organic counterparts. The peer reviewed research, a 'meta-analysis' of 343 previous studies found significant differences between organic and non-organic farming. The research, presented strong evidence that switching to food produced using organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants, without increased calories, as well as a reduced intake of potentially harmful cadmium and pesticides. More here.
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