Goat milk may seem like a product that would take a great deal of getting used to, but for many, it’s worth the learning curve.
Supporters tout the benefits to both males and females, from athletes bent on improving performance to women struggling with breastfeeding who wish for their newborns to get the closest thing to breastmilk possible.
For decades, cow milk has unfairly taken the spotlight over its more nourishing counterpart, all the while leading to (until-recently) unexplained health issues.
We say “until recently” because, for thousands of years, humans have turned to the bovine for their milk needs, but it’s only been in the last century or so that the negatives have come to light in the scientific community.
For example, one study blames cow milk, in part, for an increase in teen and adult acne; another shows that milk consumption can increase the risk of allergies and autoimmune deficiencies; yet another illustrates the connection between milk consumption and osteoporosis; and a study from 2015 found that as many as three in four people GLOBALLY have some form of lactose intolerance.
All of this from the drink that supposedly “does a body good.”
We think you’ll agree that goat milk is at least worth a try in light of all that. In the following section, we’ll explain what it is about the building blocks of it that make that the case.
Goat Milk Nutritional Profile
Goat milk is fantastic for many reasons. It’s high in protein, low in cholesterol, and has plenty of vitamins and minerals.
All of these factors play a role in understanding the 18 benefits of this drink, so before skipping to the next section, look these over and see if you can spot why so many countries have adopted consumption of goat milk over that of the bovine.
This is what you’ll find in one glass of goat milk (8 ounces).
- Calories: 168
- Protein: 10.9 grams
- Carbs: 11 grams, 4 percent of daily value (DV)
- Cholesterol: 27 mg, 9 percent DV
- Saturated fat: 6.5 grams, 33 percent DV
- Sodium: 12 mg, 5 percent DV
- Sugars: 11 grams
In the vitamin department, goat milk is stocked with A (10 percent DV), B2 (20 percent DV), C (5 percent DV), and D (7 percent DV). Mineral-wise, it contains the following:
- Zinc: 0.7 mg, 5 percent DV
- Potassium: 498 mg, 14 percent DV
- Phosphorous: 271 mg, 27 percent DV
- Magnesium: 34.2 mg, 9 percent DV
- Copper: 0.1 mg, 6 percent DV
- Calcium: 327 mg, 33 percent DV
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the heart of matters. Just what exactly can goat milk do to make your body (and mind) perform better? Let’s have a look at the possibilities.
1. Strong Bones
The claim about how goat milk is better for your bones than cow milk comes from comparing the nutritional profiles in the area of calcium. Cow milk supporters often trot this out as the central benefit, but no form of it — 1 percent fat, 2 percent, 3.25 percent, 3.7 percent, nonfat — is as rich in calcium as goat milk.
The closest to it is 305 mg found in a comparable serving of 1%, but if you refer back to the nutritional profile, you’ll see that goat milk has it beat by about 22 mg. Not a drastic difference certainly, but it’s a little hard to see why cow milk gets all the glory with numbers like that.
Calcium is definitely a mineral that can help strengthen bone density and prolong the stability of the human body into old age. Where better to get it from than our friend, the goat?
2. Better Joint Health
The joint health claims of goat milk originate from naturopathic medicine. The claim is that goats contain a higher amount of bioorganic sodium. This richness enables them to be the flexible and vigorous creatures that they are.
Cows, on the other hand, are stable but also heavy and difficult to move. The bioorganic sodium link illustrates how goat milk is better for overall muscular and skeletal health as well as support for the nervous and digestive systems when compared to its bovine counterpart.
3. Less Chemical Exposure
A 2016 Business Insider report showed in disturbing detail how cattle farmers use hormones to fatten up their cattle in order to produce a greater amount of meat to sell per head. While the hormones are FDA-approved (for meat purposes), they’re not for dairy purposes.
The science also is unclear on whether the chemicals that cows receive through both injections and grass consumption are safe for humans. As the debate continues to rage, wouldn’t you feel better knowing your milk source isn’t contaminated by chemicals?
Goats are not treated in the same manner, because size doesn’t matter as much to their agricultural marketability. While there may be additives in certain forms of goat milk, you stand a better chance of consuming a pure product through goat milk than you do the cow. With less chemical exposure, there’s less to worry about down the road.
4. Less Mucousal for Allergy Support
No one here is going to tell you that goat milk means you won’t get allergies. The evidence of developing allergies is quite the contrary, with goat and cow milk producing approximately the same results in the types of non-skin allergies produced.
But allergies can certainly be easier to deal with when consuming goat milk for one simple reason — mucus production.
Casein in dairy products (cow) ends up elevating mucus production to a higher extent than goat milk does. Pleasant, we know, but worth saying because mucus is a major exacerbator of allergies and, subsequently, sinus infections.
Even if you end up sensitive to external allergens after drinking goat milk, you can rest easy knowing it won’t lead to the same level of mucus production. And that may be something you can live with better every allergy season.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
When you think “inflammation,” you probably think of some annoying health setback that will soon pass. However, inflammation is much worse than that, and it usually is the impetus behind most diseases.
Just what types of diseases are caused by inflammation?
Here’s a short list:
- Autoimmune disease
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
Any of those sound like killers to you? If not, they should. Several are in the top five. We’re not saying cow milk is the culprit behind all that, but we are saying that goat milk contains less of the proteins that are linked to inflammation than does cow milk, and as a result, reported adverse effects are far less comparatively speaking.
6. More Like Human Than Cow Milk
Let’s be realistic. No milk is going to be better for a human than the milk that was specifically designed for that species. As such, there really isn’t a “good” substitution for human milk when it comes to feeding your baby.
But babies require milk-based formulas early in their lives to kickstart development, and animal-based milk products like the cow- and goat-based have proven effective to sustain and promote growth.
While cow is the norm — at least in the United States — many nursing mothers struggle with breastfeeding their children. As a result, they will turn to goat milk over cow because it has a closer protein profile to human milk than the cow.
While we would always recommend talking to your doctor before proceeding with this course of action, many women swear by it, and there aren’t any unique risks involved when compared to traditional cow milk.
7. Boosts Metabolism
Goat milk has a number of metabolism-boosting effects that can improve your life. Chief among them, the way it uses calcium and iron — two minerals that are essential to a healthy metabolism.
There also is some science to back this up. A study conducted on rats, for example, showed that “digestive utilization of calcium is greater when the animals consume the goat-milk-based diet rather than that based on cow milk or the standard diet.”
Furthermore, “The digestive utilization of iron … is similar for the goat-milk diet and the standard diet, and in both cases superior to that based on cow milk.”
While milk often gets the credit for building strong bones and muscles, it’s a loser in both cases when it comes to boosting metabolism. And greater metabolism leads to greater workouts leads to better strength and conditioning.
8. Promotes a Healthier Heart
Goat milk does not contain as much cholesterol as cow milk. Higher cholesterol levels — at least LDL content — frequently tows the blame for the development of heart disease, which is one of the biggest killers of people around the globe.
While the differences are not extreme, goat milk will place you in a better position. However, you should still get regular blood tests and take medications to control cholesterol levels as prescribed.
Also, building on No. 7, working out can help you burn excess fats, thus preventing more from entering the bloodstream and helping to support low cholesterol from that angle as well.
9. Improves Immunity
One of the core components of a healthy-functioning immune system — you know, that thing that helps you fight off disease and avoid infection — is selenium. While cow milk does contain small amounts of it, the content found in goat milk is far greater.
This also feeds back into the human-goat milk comparisons. Because the two are closer in selenium content, goat milk is cited as a better means for immune support. And yes, unlike a lot of health claims on the Internet, this one has the science to back it.
10. Good Protein Source
Milk of any kind is an impractical source of your day’s protein needs due to how it would overdose you on other vitamins and minerals, but it does act as a great supplement no matter which source you’re getting it from.
Goat milk may be a tad higher in calories than cow milk, but it also has about three grams more of protein per serving. Soy milk often cited as the go-to alternative to cow milk, also ranks lower when it comes to proteins.
11. Helps with Weight Loss
Goat milk can certainly improve your chances of weight loss through the extra protein content, the lower cholesterol amounts, and the better use of calcium and iron. While losing weight can be difficult for some, it’s always simple in theory, provided you don’t have a special thyroid condition.
The simple equation: burn more calories than you consume each day, and your weight will fall with each passing day. Dietitians estimate that you need to have a 3,500-calorie deficit for a pound lost.
Following that guideline, you could consume 100 calories fewer per day than you burn and lose about 10.5 pounds in a year. It’s a lot easier to do when you’re working out regularly and putting healthier things into your body.
With goat milk being one of those healthier things, you can benefit from the strong bone elements (calcium and iron), protein (for satiation), and selenium (for the immune support that helps keep you active the whole year through).
12. Supports Healthier Skin
Goat milk often is used in soaps and skin care products for its selenium content, which contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals that support healthier and more buoyant skin.
Of particular value are vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and copper. It also lends itself to beauty care through healthy amounts of fat and iron.
13. Supports Healthier Hair
Hair essentially is dead skin cells. But don’t let the word “dead” fool you. Hair can still benefit from the same great qualities that make goat milk ideal for use in skin care products. See the above elements.
14. Offers Better Digestion
Goat milk has two things going for it that you won’t find in cow milk. For starters, the fat globules that it does contain are much smaller and easier to break down.
Secondly, it contains twice as many fatty acids. This is why many who suffer from lactose intolerance swear by it in comparison.
Of course, that doesn’t mean drinking goat milk will make you immune to the effects of indigestion. Both products still contain casein proteins, but goat milk features the A2 variety. Cow milk has A1, which has a longer demonstrated history of causing digestive trauma.
15. Could Improve Cognition
Most of the evidence for goat milk as a tool of cognition is found in its conjugated linoleic acid content. This acid is linked to omega-6 fatty acids, which is one of the two types of essentials. This acid helps to boost metabolism, support the immune system, and control cholesterol levels.
What that adds up to is this: a healthier, more active you who is at far less risk of getting sick. All of these elements tie into brain function.
16. Might Also Ease Anxiety
An often-overlooked possible benefit of switching to goat milk can be found in the lipids, or fats, contained therein. The ones that you will find here have been linked to reducing anxiety.
For example, one study, again involving rats, showed that “developmental and behavioral modifications” in rats fed a goat-based milk formula fared better than those fed a more traditional formula, particularly involving anxiety levels.
17. Anti-Anemic Properties
Hemoglobin is a core component binding oxygen to red blood cells. A deficiency will result in fatigue, and it’s often linked to a number of chronic diseases. Goat milk, better than traditional, has the building blocks for avoiding this condition.
For starters, it contains a higher amount of calcium content than all forms of pasteurized cow milk. Additionally, it helps the body to make better use of the calcium and iron that it takes in. Through this better absorption, you run a lower risk of developing anemia.
One of the best pieces of scientific support for this conclusion comes from the Journal of Dairy Science. The team tested goat milk’s performance in remineralization among anemic rats and found the ones fed a goat-based milk formula diet had a faster rate of recovery than the rats that followed a cow milk-based formula. The full study can be found here.
18. Protects the Environment
This final benefit has less of a direct effect, but it’s still hard to deny the long-term good. Now, check your inner third-grader at the door because things are about to get really National Lampoon’s Animal House up in here.
Two words: cow farts.
Cows are some of the most widely harvested livestock in the world at large. The sheer amount, as well as their biologies and their diets, create an overabundance of flatulence.
That flatulence releases methane into the atmosphere every time that it happens. As the world’s population grows, so, too, does the need to feed it. Turning so heavily to such a methane-producer the way the world has, has only amped up the effects of climate change.
And if you think we’re kidding, observe this 2017 Forbes report in which it was found previous estimations of animal farts were underestimated in terms of their negative impacts on the environment. Cows are a huge part of that, and their use in dairy is a big driver of it.
Ways to Get It
For all its health benefits, goat milk still hasn’t broken into the mainstream, at least in the US. Lay the blame for that wherever you wish, but regardless, it hasn’t stopped consumers from having a number of options to try it at their disposal.
Some of the most popular goat milk-based product types are as follows:
Pasteurized goat milk: As with cow milk, this is the safest kind and where you’ll probably want to start when sojourning into the world of goat milk-based products. Pasteurization, of course, is the act of killing harmful bacteria that often lives in the raw milk product.
Raw goat milk: Raw goat milk certainly has its supporters, and the evidence out there suggests it doesn’t bring quite as much of a threat in its unpasteurized form as does cow milk.
However, we suggest you heed this warning from the FDA when choosing to consume raw products of this type: “Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats (emphasis ours) that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria.
This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.”
Kefir: Kefir can actually be produced through cow milk as well. This essentially is a yogurt-like drink. It is a fermented version of goat milk, but the fermentation process uses healthy bacteria (known as probiotics) to improve the gut flora balance and aid digestion.
Goat milk yogurt: Formulated similarly to traditional yogurts, this, like kefir, is another great way to enjoy dairy alternatives without missing out on the probiotic-related benefits.
Goat cheese: This cheese product is every bit as versatile as traditional cow-based, but it has a stronger taste. Otherwise, depending on how it’s formulated, you can expect roughly the same calories, proteins, and fats.
As with any food item, goat milk is not without some potential drawbacks. For starters, the lack of scale, at least in the US, results in a higher-priced product.
It also can be more difficult to locate, limited mostly to health-food stores, though with the democratization of Whole Foods Market, that’s getting to be less of a problem.
It also should be noted that if you go into using it with the expectation that it’s an apples-to-apples switcheroo in terms of taste and smell you’ll be taken off-guard.
It can be an acquired taste due to how much stronger it is compared to most traditional cheeses. Adjust your expectations from the start and ease into it. It takes less of it — and thus a lower calorie expenditure — to get a noticeable boost in flavor.
While goat milk isn’t for everyone, we now have enough evidence to know that it is less of a threat to digestion and overall health than cow-based milk. It has a number of health benefits worth considering, and it’s becoming increasingly popular and available.
Just be prepared for the transition and realize that, as with traditional kinds of milk, moderation is the best policy.