The organic products contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Organic meats contain slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Organic milk contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and slightly higher concentrations of iron, vitamin E and some catenoids, however conventional milk was found to contain 74% more of the essential mineral iodine and slightly more selenium.
Analysing data from around the world, the team reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.
Chris Seal, professor of food and human nutrition at Newcastle University, said: “Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function.
“Western European diets are recognised as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends we should double our intake.
“But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way towards improving intakes of these important nutrients.”
The team published their research today in the British Journal of Nutrition the team said the data show a switch to organic meat and milk would go some way towards increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.
Reacting to the research, Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association, said: “This research confirms what many people have always thought was true -what you feed farm animals and how you treat them affects the quality of the food – whether it’s milk, cheese or a cut of meat. These scientists have shown that all the hard work organic farmers put into caring for their animals pays off in the quality of the food they produce – giving real value for money.
“Organic farming methods require all organic farmers to adopt techniques that guarantee nutritionally different foods. Following research in 2014 confirming nutritional differences between organic and non-organic crops like fruit and vegetables – we can now say for certain that organic farming makes organic food different.”