Is goat milk better for you than cow milk?
We believe the answer is a definite, "Yes!" and it's why we got dairy goats in the first place. Here are some details on the differences between cow milk and goat milk to back up our belief so that you will hopefully reach the same conclusion.
Goat milk has higher quantities of important nutrients.
When compared to cow milk, goat milk is significantly higher in essential fatty acids (such as linoleic and arachidonic), vitamin B6, vitamin A, niacin, selenium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. All of these are important, but we need to take special note of the potassium, which is essential for many human body functions including regulating blood pressure.
Thanks to this high amount of potassium, when digested in the human body, goat milk reacts in an alkaline manner. In contrast, when digested in the human body, cow milk reacts in an acidic manner.
An alkaline environment is believed to protect the human body from many types of diseases, while an acidic environment may promote disease.
Goat milk is naturally homogenized.
The fat globules in goat milk are much smaller than those in cow milk. Goat milk also does not contain agglutinin. Agglutinin is necessary for agglutination (the clumping together of particles) to occur.
With cow milk, the larger fat globules and agglutinin cause the butterfat to rise to the top. To stop this, most commercial cow milk is homogenized, which breaks the fat cell wall, so the fat molecules can't clump together and then rise to the top of the milk.
One believed danger with homogenization is that breaking the cell wall causes xanthine oxidase (a free radical) to be released. Free radicals can negatively impact the health of the human body.
Because goat milk is "naturally homogenized" due to the small size of the fat globule, it is a healthier option than homogenized milk.
Goat milk is easier to digest.
The smaller fat globules are also easier for people to digest. This is because a person's digestive enzymes can more easily break down a smaller fat globule than a larger one.
Plus, when compared to cow milk, goat milk has more short and medium chain fatty acids. These are easier to digest than the fatty acids in cow milk.
Goat milk is less allergy forming.
Cow milk contains large amounts of a protein called Alpha S1 Casein, however in goat milk, there is much less - one study showed about 89% less!
This protein is often what causes children (and adults) to be allergic to cow milk. The significantly lower amounts combined with the easier digestion explains why most people who are allergic to cow milk can drink goat milk without any difficulty.
Goat milk improves lactose intolerance.
Many people suffer from lactose intolerance and its painful symptoms. This intolerance to lactose (the milk sugars) is caused when a person's body has a deficiency (not complete absence) of the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is what breaks down the lactose that is consumed from milk.
Since both goat milk and cow milk contain lactose, does that mean that lactose intolerant people must forever abandon milk or suffer the consequences?
Not necessarily. The vast majority of people we've encountered with lactose intolerance are able to drink our goat milk without difficulty.
Yes, goat milk does contain a slightly smaller amount of lactose than does cow milk but there is not enough of a difference to explain why goat milk can be tolerated where cow milk can't.
We don't know for sure why goat milk can be consumed by lactose intolerant people. One popular theory is that because goat milk is easier to digest than cow milk, the human body needs less lactase to process the lactose. Therefore there is little lactose left over to cause lactose intolerance symptoms.
Pastured vs confinement
It is important to point out that healthy milk (independent of whether it is from a goat or a cow), depends on the health of the individual animal that produces the milk.
Healthy animals that are raised on grass and are out in the sunshine and fresh air will always make healthier milk than animals raised in confinement, whether the animals is a cow, goat, or sheep.
At Goat Milk Stuff, our goats always have access to the outdoors they love (unless sub-zero temperatures require they stay in the barn).
Because dairy goats milk a greater percentage of their body weight than dairy cows, we do give them some whole oats or barley (carbohydrates) to help them keep enough weight on their bodies to stay healthy.
We pay close attention to their health and food so that we can make sure the goats are giving us the most nutrient-dense, healthy milk possible. And we never give them growth hormones or antibiotics in their feed.