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Often debated, the merits of organic food are not always obvious, particularly when they’re processed into junk foods. But in their raw state, organic fruits, vegetables, even organically raised animals, hold measurable benefits to the consumer, the farmer, and the environment. From reduced pesticide and herbicide use to being free from GMOs, the reasons to opt for organic are only increasing. And now, a recent study finds more notable health benefits to consuming organic milk instead of conventionally produced dairy products.

The research was published in the recent issue of the journal PLOS One, and according to the New York Times, “is the most clear-cut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart,” whereas studies looking at measuring organic fruits and vegetables to conventionally grown counterparts have been “less conclusive.”

According to the study’s lead author, Charles M. Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, consuming organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease.” Benbrook noted that organic milk is “better” because of its more balanced fatty acid offerings, mainly a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are also found in fish and flaxseeds.  (Omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in the Western diet as they’re found in vegetable fats often used in fried foods.)

Funded by Organic Valley, one of the largest cooperatives of organic dairy products, the study still has credibility, according to the Times, “experts not connected with the study said the findings were credible—though they noted that the role of milk in a healthy diet and the influence of fatty acids in preventing or causing cardiovascular disease are far from settled.”

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Organic Valley