BETTER DAIRY PRODUCTS WITH OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Gerd Bobe, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Health and nutrition professionals advise people to limit consumption of saturated fatty acids and to increase the consumption of foods rich in omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Traditional cattle feed contains a mixture of corn, grains, alfalfa hay, and grass silage that results in milk and dairy products with low concentrations of omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids. Adding flaxseed, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, to cows’ diet may improve the nutritional value of milk and dairy products. To determine the amount of flaxseed that would maximize the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in milk and dairy products without negatively affecting their texture and production, cows were fed up to six pounds per day of extruded flaxseed—flaxseed that was ground and then pressed into pellets with heat. Milk from these cows was then turned into butter and fresh cheese, which were tested for texture and nutrient composition. Feeding up to six pounds per day of extruded flaxseed to cows improved the fatty acid profile without negatively affecting the production and texture of the milk, butter, and cheese. Saturated fatty acids in whole-milk fat from supplemented cows decreased 18%, polyunsaturated fatty acids increased 82%, and omega-3 concentrations increased 70% compared to milk from cows that were not fed flaxseed. Similar improvements were observed in butter and fresh cheese. In addition, refrigerated butter was softer and less adhesive, thanks to fewer saturated fatty acids.
Last updated May 2013