Us humans are strange creatures. On an individual level, we all have our quirks, odd mannerisms, and unique dispositions. But we also break the mold on a global scale. Humans do many things that separate us from our animal cousins, but perhaps one of the strangest is drinking the milk of another animal. Think about that. It would be ridiculous to feed your dog cat’s milk or feed your horse pig’s milk. But humans consuming cow’s milk is considered so normal it’s rarely even questioned. After all, it does a body good. But what about the milk of other animals? Goat’s milk in particular is another player on the dairy stage (goat cheese is also becoming very popular), and some worldwide estimates claim that about ⅔ of the milk consumed in the world is goat’s milk. So, in terms of health and nutrition, how does goat’s milk compare to cow’s milk?
From an allergenic and digestive perspective, goat’s milk seems to be superior to cow’s milk. Infants are commonly allergic to cow’s milk, but some infants that cannot tolerate cow’s milk do just fine with goat’s milk (although feeding infants goat’s milk is still controversial). But even for adults, goat’s milk is easier to digest and less allergenic than cow’s milk. Certain proteins found in high concentrations in cow’s milk but not in goat’s milk may be the reason for that. Although goat’s milk does contain about the same amount of lactose as cow’s milk, many lactose intolerant patients seem to be able to consume goat’s milk with little or no consequence. The fat in goat’s milk is also easier to digest. This is because the fat globules in goat’s milk are smaller and don’t clump together (when it comes to goat’s milk, the cream does not rise to the top). Because of this, goat’s milk does not need to be homogenized, a process that when done to cow’s milk may produce harmful free radicals. The fat in goat’s milk also contains a higher percentage of short and medium chain fatty acids (easier to digest) as well as more essential fatty acids than cow’s milk.
Nutritionally, goat’s milk seems to be superior to cow’s milk as well. Although goat’s milk and cow’s milk have similar levels of fat, as mentioned above, goat’s milk does contain more essential fatty acids (fats we must get from our diet because we can’t make them ourselves). When it comes to protein, both cow’s and goat’s milk contain similar levels. However, during digestion, the acid in your stomach turns the protein into curds. The curds from goat’s milk are softer and easier to digest, leading to faster and better absorption of the protein relative to that found in cow’s milk. And in terms of vitamins and micronutrients, goat’s milk generally outshines cow’s milk as well. Although cow’s milk has more vitamin B-12 and folic acid, goat’s milk contains more calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-3, and more than twice as much potassium.
So goat’s milk does have its benefits in comparison with cow’s milk. Palatability of the milks may also be an issue, as goat’s milk has a richer, saltier, slightly sweeter, and stronger taste than cow’s milk. It is also much more difficult to find low or non-fat versions of goat’s milk, and if you’re watching your fat intake (particularly saturated fat intake), then full-fat goat’s milk probably isn’t the best option for you. But goat’s milk may still have its place in your diet. If you do not tolerate lactose well, goat’s milk would probably be worth a try as there are many lactose intolerant people who digest goat’s milk just fine. Goat cheese is also becoming a lot more common, and has a delicious rich and salty flavor that goes great on salads and pizzas, as well as being a natural pairing with ingredients like salmon. So if you haven’t given goat’s dairy a shot yet in your life, perhaps now is the time. You may just find yourself saying, “Maaaaaaaaaaah-n, that is good.”
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube