Goat milk is a food with multiple properties: let’s see in detail what it is and what it is good for.
Goat’s milk represents an interesting alternative to the common cow’s milk, boasting several noteworthy properties. Produced by milking goats, it appears as a white and apparently homogeneous liquid, presenting, depending on the goat breed of origin, a characteristic taste and smell. Its composition, as well as its organoleptic traits, are also quite peculiar.
Goat’s milk: calories and nutritional values
Wanting to describe the nutritional values of goat milk, let’s start by defining its energy value, which for 100 g of this food corresponds to 69 kcal. The same reference quantity is mostly composed of water (for about 87 g), providing, as far as macronutrients are concerned, 3.56 g of high biological value proteins and 4.45 g of soluble sugars. Worth noting is the fat content , which per 100 g of milk is equal to 4.14 g. Anticipating an important aspect that will be explored later, the lipid fraction is made up of interesting short and medium chain fatty acids.
Regarding the composition in micronutrients, goat’s milk is rich in calcium (134 mg) and phosphorus (111 mg), also providing a good amount of potassium (204 mg) and magnesium (14 mg). The riboflavin content (0.138 mg) is also noteworthy, while the intake of folate and vitamin B12 is poor. For more details on the nutritional values, see the table below, which refers to a goat’s milk supplemented with vitamin D.
Nutritional values per 100g of goat milk:
- Waterfall: 87 g
- Power: 69 kcal
- Proteins: 3.56 g
- Total fat: 4.14 g
- of which saturated: 2.67 g (total)
- of which monounsaturated: 1.11 g (total)
- of which polyunsaturated: 0.149 g (total)
- Cholesterol: 11 mg
- Carbohydrates: 4.45 g
- of which soluble sugars: 4.45 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Soccer: 134 mg
- Iron: 0.05 mg
- Magnesium: 14 mg
- Phosphorus: 111 mg
- Potassium: 204 mg
- Sodium: 50 mg
- Zinc: 0.3 mg
- Copper: 0.046 mg
- Manganese: 0.018 mg
- Selenium: 1.4 μg
- C vitamin: 1.3 mg
- Thiamine: 0.048 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.138 mg
- Niacin: 0.277 mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.31 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.046 mg
- Total folate: 1 μg
- Folic acid: 0 μg
- Vitamin B12: 0.07 μg
- Vitamin A: 57 μg
- Vitamin E: 0.07 mg
- Vitamin D: 1.3 μg
Goat’s milk: properties and health benefits
This food offers several health benefits. In short, goat milk is good for the intestinal microbiota, has antimicrobial activity, contributes to cardiovascular health and has antioxidant properties, but not only. Let us now see an in-depth analysis of all the properties of goat milk and why it is good for you.
✓ Benefits for the intestinal microbiota
The benefits of goat milk include the effects on the intestinal microbiota. In fact, the oligosaccharides contained in it are attributed a prebiotic activity: once they reach the colon, these components can selectively stimulate the development of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, favoring the optimal composition of the microbiota in qualitative and quantitative terms.
✓ Antimicrobial activity
For the oligosaccharides present in goat milk and, in particular, for those containing a substance known as sialic acid, an antimicrobial activity is suggested. In particular, this substance can bind to some pathogenic species, preventing them from adhering to intestinal cells and therefore the relative infection. Oligosaccharides containing sialic acid can recognize and bind the pathogens H. pylori, S. aureus and Clostridium botulinum.
✓ Benefits for cardiovascular health
As mentioned with regard to nutritional values, goat milk has a certain fat content, represented, in part, by short and medium chain fatty acids. The latter are used as an immediate energy source and are considered “non-atherogenic”, that is, not decisive in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, which, as we well know, are related to cardiovascular problems. Caproic (C: 6), caprylic (C8) and capric (C10) acids, contained in goat milk, are related to beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Even monounsaturated fatty acids, which occupy a good fraction of the total fat, do not pose a risk to the heart, being, on the contrary, beneficial. Although their presence in milk can be influenced by the diet of the producing goat, CLAs (conjugates of linoleic acid) are additional substances presumably protective for cardiovascular health.
✓ Some benefits for the nutritional status
It has been suggested that goat milk may promote calcium and phosphorus metabolism, as well as zinc levels. As for the iron contained in goat milk, it is bioavailable and well absorbed by the human digestive tract, as well as selenium. In any case and beyond these beneficial aspects, the lack of folate and vitamin B12 in this food remain aspects to be taken into consideration.
✓ Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Oxidative stress and the imbalance between pro and anti-inflammatory substances play an important role in chronic diseases involving the digestive system (such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease). In this regard, goat’s milk boasts a certain content of bioactive substances (peptides), which are attributed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These substances seem to act as “scavengers” on free radicals and as modulating agents on inflammation markers.
✓ Immunomodulating activity
The biologically active peptides mentioned above are also attributed a regulatory activity on the growth and differentiation of lymphocytes, which represent crucial cells of the immune system. Furthermore, the selenium contained in goat milk represents a trace element of great importance for the functionality of the immune system. By virtue of this nutritional characteristic, goat’s milk therefore boasts a stimulating activity on defense mechanisms.
Goat’s milk and cow’s milk: differences
Wanting to compare the two products from an organoleptic point of view, the taste of goat’s milk is more pronounced, as well as its smell. This characteristic is mainly due to its composition in fatty acids. Goat’s milk also boasts a whiter color, due to the absence of beta-carotene.
Let’s now consider the macronutrients. In both types of milk, fats are present in the form of globules, although goat’s milk contains smaller globules. This difference affects the digestibility of the product, which is greater for goat’s milk. As stated earlier, goat milk contains short and medium chain fatty acids, present to a lesser extent in cow’s milk, as well as a higher content of CLA fatty acids (which can vary depending on the goat’s diet).
Regarding the protein composition, goat’s milk tends to contain a smaller amount of alpha-S1-casein, which is implicated in the known milk allergy (this aspect will be discussed further on).
In a small percentage (between 0.2 and 0.5%), goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk and more oligosaccharides with prebiotic properties. Among other things, the latter also seem to be related to the greater digestibility of goat’s milk. Although to a slight extent, goat’s milk has a higher caloric intake than cow’s milk.
As far as micronutrients are concerned, goat’s milk contains more calcium, more phosphorus and more potassium than cow’s milk, while it is distinguished by a decidedly lower content of folate and vitamin B12. Selenium and vitamin A are also present in goat’s milk in greater quantities. Finally, both types of milk are deficient in vitamins B6, C and D.
Does goat milk contain lactose?
Although in slightly lower quantities than cow’s milk, goat’s milk also contains lactose, for a quantity, in 100 g of milk, of about 4.45 g. It is therefore clear that, in case of lactose intolerance, goat’s milk is not a valid alternative to cow’s milk.
How goat milk is used in cooking
Like any milk of animal origin, goat’s milk also lends itself excellently to the preparation of yogurt and cheeses, whether they are slightly or highly seasoned. In a satisfactory way, it is possible to use goat’s milk for different culinary applications, considering it a valid ingredient of sweet and savory recipes.
The desserts that can be made with goat milk include cakes and pies, but also puddings and ice cream, while for savory recipes (rustic pies, crepes, flans, etc.) the relative cheese is often used. Goat’s milk can also be used to make butter and béchamel. The quantities to be used usually correspond to the doses considered for the common cow’s milk (or cheese), without prejudice to the subjective nutritional needs.
Does goat milk make you fat?
Previously, mention was made of the greater (albeit minimal) contributions, in terms of calories and fats, which characterize goat’s milk compared to cow’s milk and, in this regard, a clarification must be made: any food, including goat milk, can be placed in the context of a balanced diet, as long as this is done correctly. No food makes you fat if consumed in quantities suitable for subjective nutritional needs. In any case, skimmed or partially skimmed versions with reduced calorie content are also available for goat milk.
Can goat’s milk be given to babies and children?
In general, milk represents the cornerstone food for the nourishment of the newborn, requiring, all the more reason, certain nutritional requirements. The needs linked to these requirements are naturally met by breast milk and, where necessary, by specially formulated infant formula. Starting from this premise, it should be specified that it is not appropriate to give goat milk to infants and children up to 12 months of age. Like cow’s milk, goat’s milk has an excessive protein content and intake of mineral salts for this age group, while it is deficient in necessary micronutrients, such as folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
Does goat milk have any contraindications? When should it be avoided?
As already specified regarding the lactose content, intolerance to this sugar is one of the contraindications of goat’s milk. Despite the lower content of alpha-S1-casein, goat’s milk shows a certain cross-reactivity with cow’s milk, so subjects hypersensitive to cow’s milk proteins will likely show hypersensitivity to goat’s milk proteins.
Goat milk is one of the foods to be avoided or reduced in the context of a FODMAP protocol, usually applied to irritable bowel syndrome (which manifests itself with abdominal pain, bloating, alternating constipation / diarrhea, etc.).
In general, it is important to pay attention to the times and methods of storage of the product: in this regard, a milk that has gone bad is characterized by an unpleasant odor and by the presence of lumps.
Where to buy goat milk: a guide to choosing
In addition to the “organic” shops, now very widespread in our cities, goat’s milk is available in the largest and most well-stocked shopping centers and supermarkets, usually in the long-life UHT version. The UHT (Ultra High Temperature) treatment ensures that the milk is microbiologically safe and that it can be stored at room temperature (if still sealed) for several weeks. In this regard, goat’s milk is generally available on the shelves and not at the refrigerated counter. Although it is a less common practice, goat’s milk (like milk in general) can also be easily bought online, through the appropriate sales channels. For the purpose of a good purchase, it is advisable to choose milk from organic farms, paying attention to the wording on the label.