Theresa Westaby gives her calf a loving touch.

Theresa Westaby gives her calf a loving touch.

Living and loving life to the fullest takes a healthy heart. And when it comes to protecting our vital ticker,  nothing appears more important than “balance.”  Whether we’re talking about balancing work and family, or finding time to exercise and eat “well.”

The good news: feeding our families a heart healthy diet just got a little easier, thanks to new research showing that heart-protecting fatty acids are just a glass of milk away.  Let me explain.

In addition to eating less sugar and more fruits and vegetables, public health experts say two of the most important dietary changes we can make to reduce our risk for heart disease include eating more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and less foods high in omega-6 fatty acids.

Both of these polyunsaturated fats are essential for our health. However, over the past 100 years, industrial agriculture tipped the scales in favor of omega-6 fats, largely from soy and corn, which have become commonplace in the American diet.

Captain Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., who researches the role of dietary fat in both physical and mental health, estimates that 40 percent of all cardiovascular disease in the world could be eliminated simply by consuming more omega-3, and less omega-6 fatty acids.  Every little bit helps, he says.

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are known to be rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re not exactly everyday foods.  So in between fish meals, we can boost our loved ones’ omega-3 intakes simply by serving whole organic milk.

Compared to whole conventional milk, organic dairy contains significantly higher amounts of omega-3 fats. Why? Organic cows spend more time on pasture, which cows naturally turn into milk with high levels of heart healthy fats. You could say cows love pasture, and the milk they give loves us right back.