Guest: Heather de Paulo
Do you love your milk, but it doesn’t love you? Do you miss that rich, creamy goodness? I have some good news for you. It’s possible that you may be able to tolerate milk, but it just may not come from a cow.
I recommend you try goat or sheep milk. Before you turn up your nose, read on! Nutritionally and palatability speaking, sheep milk has an excellent profile. However, sheep are known to be very difficult to milk, so you will be hard pressed to find any. If you are fortunate enough to find a farmer who will sell you sheep milk, great! But if not, goat milk is also quite great.
Here are 7 reasons you should think about drinking goat milk:
1. Think about it, cow babies need to eventually get to be around 1500 pounds, so the nutrient needs of a calf are way different than that of a human. Goats and sheep end up being anywhere between 80 to 280 pounds (depending on the type), which is much more closely related to a human adult weight.
2. The proteins in these milks are smaller and much more digestible than cow. The main offending protein in cow milk that is the root cause of many allergies is alpha-s1-casein. Goat milk is the closest to human milk in structure. It has very little or almost no alpha-s1-casein, which is one reason why people who cannot tolerate cow milk do just fine with goat milk (around 40% of people who have cow milk allergies can drink goat milk).
3. Goat milk has smaller fat globules than cow, with a high amount of medium chain fatty acids (MCT’s), and the fats naturally stay homogenized, making it more digestible. You have heard about the rage for coconut oil, right? That’s because of the health benefits of its MCT’s. More research needs to be done on the effect MCT has on weight loss, but it has been shown that MCT’s are more readily absorbed by your cells without being broken down, making them an immediate source of energy, reducing the likelihood (but not completely eliminating) that they will be stored as fat.
4. Goat milk has higher levels of some nutrients, like calcium, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc, and the composition of goat milk makes these nutrients more bioavailable. This means that your body can more readily absorb and utilize the calcium and iron from goat milk better than from cow milk. It also has a high vitamin A content can actually be used on the skin and may possibly treat conditions such as acne, and lactic acid that can help slough off dead skin cells.
5. Have you heard of oligosaccharides? They are a unique carbohydrate that tends to escape digestion and they are plentiful in goat milk. Research has shown that these compounds may enhance immune function and insulin sensitivity. Human milk has the largest concentration of oligosaccharides and goat milk has the highest non-human animal source.
6. What about conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)? You may have seen it listed as an ingredient on different types of snack bars and other supplements. While there’s still research to be done on the matter, some studies have suggested that CLA may have positive effects on weight loss. The amounts found in cow milk isn’t consistent – grain fed cows have much less CLA than grass fed cows. However, goat milk typically provides 11.5mg per 100 grams of goat milk – substantially higher than grain fed cows (which is where most of the milk you buy comes from, unless it specifies it’s from grass-fed cows).
7. That all may sound good, but what if you are lactose intolerant? All milks have lactose, human milk too, but there are varying amounts, depending on the animal. You can see in the chart below that cow milk has the highest lactose content of the other animals listed, at 4.93%, where goat milk has the least, at 4.33%. This may not seem like much, but it can make the difference between being able to enjoy that froth in your coffee or having to hit the bathroom soon after.
The only downside to goat milk is that after the commercial pasteurization process, it can have that gamey flavor which causes most to turn their nose up to it. However, if you are able to get fresh goat milk, there won’t be any of that gamey taste at all. If you are just not comfortable with raw milk, you can pasteurize it yourself, which is just bringing the milk to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. It will still be much fresher and tastier than store bought, guaranteed! And if you can’t find fresh goat milk in your area, go for what you find in the store and choose organic. Just like everything, your taste buds will adjust and it will be worth it!
Give it a try! You can also find goat milk yogurt and I’m sure you’ve heard of goat milk cheese. You can even find goat milk ice cream! If you can get fresh goat milk, you can even make yogurt, cheese and ice cream yourself, if you are willing.
If you have intolerances, just try a little to start and see how you react to it. If you have an actual allergy, please consult with your doctor before attempting any milk from any animal source.