Milk and dairy in general have been a staple of human diets for decades. While cow milk is normally the default when we talk about milk, there are dozens of alternatives on the market that come with great health benefits. One very common dairy milk that we often forget is goat milk. In fact, goat milk is actually widely produced in many parts of the world with more than 15 million tonnes produced every year.
But is it better than cow milk? Have we been missing out on something important? It turns out while both milks offer their own respective advantages, there are reasons for you to prefer goat milk over cow milk other than the delicate, sweet flavour that we love about goat dairy products.
I probably have a more biased opinion on the taste of goat milk. My uncle used to deliver goat milk, so that’s what I grew up drinking. But I will say that it is more of an acquired taste, like the cheese. If you’ve had goat cheese before, then you could probably extrapolate how the milk tastes like. A little sweeter, more aromatic, and definitely very “goaty” compared to cow milk.
Advantages of Goat Milk
1. It’s easier to digest.
Although the consistency of both milks are similar, goat milk has much smaller fat globules and higher levels of fatty acids. The more drastic surface-to volume ratio actually allows for a quicker and smoother digestion process. The protein found in goat milk also forms a softer curd as it reaches the stomach, as goat milk is composed of only 2% curd, whereas cow milk is composed of about 10% curd. This means quicker, easier, and less irritation for your digestion system.
2. It’s naturally homogenized.
The smaller fat globules in goat milk not only make it easier to digest, but it also means that the milk is naturally homogenized. Cow milk is often homogenized because the cream and milk separate, but because the fat globules in goat milk are small, they stay suspended throughout the milk. These goat milk fat globules also don’t contain agglutinin, a compound that is also responsible for causing fat globules to cluster up and separate. The process of homogenization is better avoided as it destroys the cell walls of fat globules, and as a result, releasing a free radical known as xanthine oxidase. We all know how unwanted free radicals are.
3. It’s less allergenic and lower in lactose.
Dairy allergy is one of the most common allergies in children under the age of three, and a lot of it is attributed to a certain protein called Alpha s1 Casein. The levels of Alpha s1 are about 89% lower in goat milk than cow milk. And a recent study found that about 93% of infants who are allergic to cow milk are actually able to drink goat milk safely.[i] A1 casein also affects adults with inflammations, contributing to gastrointestinal issues, skin issues, and even autoimmune diseases[ii]. And the lower amount of lactose—a sugar molecule—in goat milk also means that it can be enjoyed by some people who are lactose intolerant.
4. It’s richer in calcium and lower in cholesterol.
Calcium is one of the main reasons for drinking milk, and not getting adequate calcium in your diet won’t be concern for switching to goat milk. It actually contains 33% of the daily recommended value of the mineral compared to the 28% in cow milk. It is also high in medium-chain fatty acids, which are much better sources for energy boosts as opposed to body fat. Goat milk’s fat also helps reduce total cholesterol levels, which in turn helps prevent heart diseases[iii].
5. It’s richer in many minerals.
Phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium are all more abundant in goat milk than cow milk. Phosphorous is the second most abundant mineral—after calcium—in your body. It is used for filtering waste and repairing tissue cells. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in over 325 enzyme systems in the human body. It also helps convert vitamin D into its active form, improving the absorption of calcium. And lastly, potassium is a significant mineral that improves the health of vital organs and muscle reparation.
Cow milk definitely has its own benefits along with many in common with goat milk, but when it comes to allergies, lactose intolerance, and sensitive stomachs, you might be better off with goat milk. Both milks can benefit your body and keep you healthy, just make sure to grab organic ones, and beware of certain reduced fat versions–they often have more added sugar to balance out the lack of fat.
What’s your opinion on goat milk? Let us know if you’ve tried it, if you prefer it over cow milk, and whether you love it or hate it!
[i] Freund G. Use of goat milk for infant feeding: experimental work at Créteil (France). Proceeding of the meeting Intérêts nutritionnel et diététique du lait de chèvre. Niort, France: INRA, 1996:119–21.