Grass-Fed and Omega-3
White Mountain Foods | July 4th, 2018
Q: Do 100% grass-fed cows produce milk that is higher in omega-3 fatty acids?
A: Yes. Technically, 100% grass-fed cows do, on average, produce more of those types of fatty acids than cows who are not fed 100% grass. However, the difference is so minimal (4 mg EPA and DHA and 9 mg CLA) compared to the recommended daily dose, and the comparison is being performed on a product that is inherently low in those fatty acids, that we have to conclude that the whole grass-fed milk label is purely a marketing vehicle.
According to Marie Spano, RD, “Milk is not considered a major source of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, regardless of milk type” (1). The omega-3 content in a 100% grass fed sample and a conventional milk sample is:
Conventional milk sample (1 cup):
15 mg EPA and DHA (omega-3)
47 mg CLA
100% grass-fed sample (1 cup):
19 mg EPA and DHA (omega-3)
56 mg CLA
The American Heart Association (AHA) states that “taking about a gram a day (EPA and DHA) could reduce deaths from coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death by about 10 percent” (2). The AHA recommends 1,000 mg (1 gram) per day to support heart health. One would have to consume 3.25 gallons of milk a day to get the recommended EPA and DHA, and 1.1 gallons for CLA. Therefore, milk in general is not a good source for omega-3. On the other hand, a serving of wild salmon contains around 1,200mg of EPA and DHA, making it a great source of omega-3.