Grass fed dairy is one of the most talked about dairy products across the globe.
Apparently, the label grass fed speaks about the diet of the cows or other animals, whose milk is used for making dairy products like milk and milk made products like ghee, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.
Actually grass fed products are now synonymous to a certain advanced quality, which means it is a proven fact that grass fed products are more nutritionally helpful for its consumers.
As a reason researchers have explained that cows or other milk producing animals when graze freely in open pasture and consume grass as their natural foods, it makes them happy. Happy pasture raised animals produce better quality milk.
Not to mention that good quality milk produces better quality dairy products and the diet of the cattle stands responsible for the improved quality of milk. But what makes grass fed milk superior in quality? But before that let’s take a quick look at the difference of “100% grass-fed,” “grass-fed” and “pasture-raised”.
Difference of “100% grass-fed,” “grass-fed” and “pasture-raised“.
All these three dairy labels like “100% grass-fed,” “grass-fed” and “#pasture-raised” speak of the standard responsible for raising cows in the field. When it is said that cows are 100% grass fed, it means that cows are fed on grass only.
The label “#grassfed” means the animal are fed mostly on grass and somehow on limited and restricted amount of grains to balance the dose of nutrition especially in winter.
Pasture raised cows are maintained on pasture at least for 120-140 days in a year and they receive nutritional supplements in their diet besides their grass diet.
All these three labels are interrelated, but in case of 100% grass fed dairy mostly animals are fed on grass diet and that diet results in some definite quality advantages for the consumers.
What is special about grass fed milk?
“Grass fed milk” comes from the cows, fed a nearly 100% forage-based diet-plan. During the browsing season, dairy cows eat almost all their dry foods from green and open pasture. The cows may consume specific mineral and energy supplements, such as molasses, at low quantity, etc. During the non-grazing season, the grass fed cows and other animals like sheep, goat are kept mandatorily on all forage-based feeds, which may comprise dried or fermented forages (alfalfa, clovers, grass).
Grass fed Cows may also have some cereal crops chosen prior to their boot stage, such as oats and barley. However, 100% grass fed cows and animals are fed with mostly grass in their diet.
Annual as well as perennial forage crops are managed throughout the year to offer for both grazing and stored winter feed. Many grass fed milk farmers yield feedstuffs, preserved to be fed as Baleage or “wet wrapped hay”.
A rise in grass-based diets for cows demands watchful management of pasture composition as well as related fodder production, soil fertility, and over all animal health etc., which ensure consistent quality maintenance of milk extracted from animals like #cow, #sheep, or goat, etc.
Effect of grass fed dairy on human diets
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are vital human nutrients, yet having too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 may increase the risk of cardiac disease, obesity, and the risk of inducing diabetes. Research has proven that having organic dairy products in diet mostly results in lower dietary intakes of omega-6, while promoting the intake of omega-3 and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which is a well-known heart-healthy fatty acid.
A current national study found that cows fed a diet of entirely organic grass and legumes have produced milk with higher levels of omega-3 and CLA, which offers an evidently improved balance of fatty acids. The amended fatty acid profile in grass-fed organic milk and related dairy products brings the #omega6 #omega3 ratio to closely 1 to 1in comparison to 5.7:1 as found in conventional whole milk.
Studies have displayed that free and pasture raised cows are more productive in terms of making milk and good quality of milk.
For example, market demand has generated for Ireland a unique marketing opportunity within Europe to indorse their “grass based” production system. The huge majority of dairy cows in Ireland pass the majority of their time on grass, and in the New Zealand Australia dairy hub cows are left free on open pasture up to 300 days a year.
A 2018 research based study published in the Journal of Food Science and Nutrition compared 100% grass-fed dairy and conventional milk made dairy and found that grass fed milk has a distinctly different nutritional profile. Researchers found:
- 147% higher amount of omega-3 fatty acid than traditional cow milk
- 125% more CLA than traditional cow milk
Relevant to this research was the work of Dr. Artemis Simopolous, a ground-breaking researcher of omega fatty acids in the human diet, and their longstanding health benefits and effects.
In summary: More grass in the cows’ diet generates more helpful fatty acids in the milk we drink! For the alike reason grass fed dairy comprises better level of nutrients than traditional grain fed milk made dairy.
Evidence is increasing in favor of dairy products being an excellent source of valued nutrients, but also where from that dairy comes also matters a lot. It is clinically proven now that there is a huge difference between dairy products from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows and those that come from cows raised in captivity and are fed grain-based diets.
Let’s check the main advantages of Grass fed dairy in terms of nutritive profile:
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): A unique healthy fat
There’s a fatty acid in dairy products known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and research says that the fatty acid has the unique potential to endorse cardiovascular health. But dairy products from grain-fed milk are significantly low in CLA. Actually, CLA is synthesized in the stomachs of ruminants from linoleic acid (LA), which is more abundantly available in plants like grasses than in general grains.
It stands to reason that if you allow the cows to eat what they were supposed to eat naturally, then their bodies can perform better what they were supposed to do—turning LA into CLA and pass it on to us in the fat of their milk. In fact, studies have displayed that grass-fed, pasture-raised cow milk can produce grass fed dairy products having up to a massive five times more CLA than their grain-fed counterparts.
One study led in Costa Rica, where mostly the dairy farms are pasture based, observed that subjects with higher CLA levels in their bodies also enjoys lesser risk of developing cardiac disease. The study, including 4,000 people, found that those with the highest levels of CLA also had a 36% lower risk of heart attack in comparison to those with the lowermost concentrations.
Full-fat milk of 100% grass-fed cows is one of the most potential dietary sources of CLA: grass-fed dairy products like cheese, butter, and cream contains significant quantity of CLA.
A better source of important fat-soluble vitamins
Milk is known to be a good source of several vitamins including B2, B12, and the fat-soluble vitamins like A and D, as well as important minerals like calcium and selenium. But here is a big But: What if a cow can only produce a limited level of these vitamins over a time span? If this were the case, then growing the bulk of production within a set period would unavoidably thin the vitamin content.
The traditional dairy model maintains a specific volume of production, yet according to eatwild.com, at least one survey has revealed that it is not possible to surge the vitamin content of the milk to tally with the volume that can be artificially persuaded through hormones, breeding, as well as in grain-based diets.
On the contrary, pasture-raised cow and relayed milk doesn’t have this dilemma, as the cows are having what they were happy to eat and aren’t being forced to yield more milk than they can naturally capable to produce assuring an optimal concentration of nutrients in it.
Among its many greater benefits, research and studies have shown that grass-fed milk has a higher content of vitamin A and E as well as carotenoid antioxidants like beta c-carotene. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in grass fed dairy products. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant and it helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
It makes perfect sense that grass-fed milk is a better bait for health-conscious people. According to Tanya Altmann, M.D., a Southern California-based pediatrician, “Many people identify that grass-fed cows are healthier and take satisfaction how they are treated and what they have in diet and so therefore, their milk should be of improved quality.”
It’s true, it appears, that that milk from grass-fed cows, sheep etc. contains some added important nutrients than other normal milks. A 2018 study from the journal Food Science & Nutrition found that grass fed milk contains higher count of omega 3 fatty acids, the vital fatty acids significant for brain and eye health that our bodies can’t make than other milks.
An ideal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
“Omega-3s are particularly vital for growing children, as their intake in infancy and childhood could possibly effect their long-term development,” says Diana K. Rice, R.D., CLEC, owner of The Baby Steps Dietitian and a mom of two young kids.
But there is an obvious catch: The amount of omega 3s in grass-fed milk, while more than double the amount in conventional milk, is just not that much. “A 100 grams serving of salmon fish, for example, has 2.25 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, whereas a 100-gram serving of grass-fed milk has just .05 grams,” explains Diana K. Rice.
Both omega-6 as well as omega-3 fatty acids are required for maintaining good health, but maintaining the perfect balance of these two fatty acid is really a vital issue. However, the good ratio seems to be between 2:1 and 4:1. Grazing animals get their omega-3s from grass, while grains such as corn are high in the omega-6s, and barely contain any omega-3s.
A study published in the Journal PLOS One Measured the fatty acid content in 384 samples of organic and conventional whole milk displays that organic milk contained 25% less omega-6s and 62% more omega-3s in comparison to conventional milk.
Organic standards necessitate that the animals be on pasture for a minimum of 120 days during the grazing season, allowing them to eat more grass.
Choosing grass-fed dairy products is an easy step for consumers toward withdrawing the tendency of dietary fatty acid imbalance, as grass fed dairy products provide an ideal balance of the omega fatty acids.
If You Go for Grass-Fed….
Going grass fed is an obvious advantage for people of all ages. The reason: most of the nutritional advantages of grass-fed milk, however small, are found in the fat portion of the dairy products. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, full-fat dairy for kids between the ages of one and two is quite helpful because these growing kids need the extra dose of calories for ensuring natural growth and supply of fats for natural and balanced brain development.
If your family prefers having milk and dairy products, then you must introduce grass fed dairy products in diet.
Go forward and indulge… grass-fed dairy is really good for you!
So go ahead and bring grass fed dairy in your plate. Enjoy that thick pat of grass fed ghee or butter. Smear it on your morning toast or dollop one spoon in your coffee. But be sure to choose dairy from grass-fed cows—this is the only assured way to enjoy all health benefits.
So, having grass-fed clarified butter (ghee) in diet help in:
- Getting more CLA supply.
- It us helpful for your heart’s health.
- Having protection against internal inflammation.
- Reducing body weight id taken in moderation.
- On moderate consumption, improvement of eye health is ensured.
Where to buy Grass fed dairy
You can buy Grass fed dairy products from all any authorized retail counters; however, always check the product label where it should be clearly written as grass fed dairy products. It is always wise to buy 100% grass fed dairy products because these products contains more nutrients than its gran fed milk made counterparts.
However, you can buy the products in local farmer’s markets. You may try good certified 100% grass fed organic brand online to buy products from dairy companies selling certified 100% organic grass fed dairy products like cow ghee, sheep ghee, etc.