A recent study has reportedly revealed that organic milk contains a healthier balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids compared with milk from cows raised on conventionally managed dairy farms. Benbrook, et al., “Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition: A United States–Wide, 18-Month Study,” PLOS One, December 9, 2013. The finding, writes New York Times writer Kenneth Chang, is the “most clearcut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart,” as “studies looking at organic fruits and vegetables have been less conclusive.”

According to the researchers, who note that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the U.S. diet have risen to “nutritionally undesirable levels,”the healthier fatty acid profile of organic milk is likely a result of cows foraging on grass. By comparison, cows fed a corn-based diet apparently produce milk that contains higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which previous studies have associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. “There’s really no debate [],” said study author Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University. “When you feed dairy cows more grass, you improve the fatty acid profile of the milk.”