Flaxseed has received recent acclaim for providing an abundance of healthy omega-3 fatty acids for the human body. A new study by Oregon State University shows that cows fed flaxseed produce milk with a higher nutritional content.
Researchers conducted the study by feeding 10 pregnant cows varying amounts of flaxseed. Their goal was to find the amount of flaxseed needed to maximize nutrition without affecting the texture of dairy products, like cheese and butter.
“We were looking for a sweet spot,” explained Gerd Bobe, the lead scientist in the study. Cows that consumed 6 pounds of flaxseed per day produced milk with 18 percent fewer saturated fatty acids, 82 percent more polyunsaturated fatty acids and 70 percent higher omega-3 levels than cows that ate no flaxseed.
People who have diets with high levels of omega-3 and low amounts of saturated fats have a reduced risk of heart disease, health studies say. Milk produced by flaxseed-fed cows would seem to be the solution for people seeking a healthier diet, but the OSU researchers warn that saturated fats still comprise more than half of the fatty acids in the resulting dairy products.