Evidence that organic milk has higher levels of essential nutrients than ordinary milk has been unearthed by mid Wales scientists.
Cows that produce organic milk are fed on red clover
Ground-breaking research published by the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) at Aberystwyth has found that organic milk has at least 64% more omega 3 essential fatty acids than conventional milk.
Omega 3 fatty acids are believed to help maintain a healthy heart, combat the effects of arthritis and help the development of healthy brains in unborn children.
And now, OMSCo, the UK co-operative of organic dairy farmers, is calling on the Food Standards Agency to recognise the health benefits of organic milk.
"Our previous research has shown that milk from cows fed clover can contain up to 240% more omega 3 fatty acids than milk from cows fed grass and concentrate," said Dr Richard Dewhurst, joint leader of the nutrition and microbiology team at IGER.
"Organic dairy farmers feed much higher levels of clover because they use it as an alternative to using synthetic chemical fertilisers to ensure lush pastures."
Omega 3 fatty acids have to be obtained from food as they cannot be made in the body.
Nutritionist and state registered dietician Sian Porter said; "Most people in the UK do not have an adequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids and need to increase the amount of omega 3 rich foods in the diet."
The best source of omega 3 is oily fish such as salmon and herring but research has shown that only a third of the population eat it regularly.
"Drinking just half a pint a day of organic milk as part of a healthy, balanced diet gives a useful additional source of this omega 3 fatty acid," added Ms Porter.
"Eating a matchbox-sized piece of organic cheese will provide nearly all your recommended daily intake of omega 3."
Sally Bagenal, chief executive of the organic farmers' co-operative OMSCo, said: " We are inviting the Food Safety Agency to start recommending organic milk as part of a healthy diet"
"Evidence is accumulating that organic milk is more nutritious and safer than conventional milk."