We've all heard of goat milk (and probably more than a few of us love goat cheese), but did you know that goat milk is one of the most commonly consumed milks in the world? While cow's milk alternatives have been rising in popularity (such as soy, almond, rice), not many people in North America consider goat milk—but they should.
What's the difference between goat's milk and cow's milk?
Many people who suffer from mild sensitivities to cow's milk may be able to enjoy goat milk, as goat milk is naturally easy to digest.
Goat milk protein contains less alpha S1 casein, which contributes to the size and toughness of the curd formed in the stomach during digestion, than cow's milk. Less alpha S1 casein means that goat milk forms a smaller, softer, and looser curd in the gut than cow's milk. And studies have shown that goat milk protein breaks down faster than cow's milk protein.
Goat milk fats are also easy-to-digest as they're smaller than cow's milk fats. And goat milk fat contains significantly higher amounts of easier-to-digest short- and medium-chain fatty acids compared to cow's milk.
Some research also indicates that certain minerals, like iron, calcium, and zinc, are more bioavailable in goat milk—meaning easier for the body to absorb—than in cow's milk.
Is goat milk good for babies?
What are the health advantages for little ones? Beyond being gentler on the stomach, there are numerous potential health advantages of goat milk for young children. For some, cow's milk may cause mild to moderate symptoms such as colic, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, chronic congestion, recurrent ear infections, and eczema when they're introduced to it. Luckily, goat milk may be a solution for symptoms related to cow's milk consumption and may reduce eczema, congestion, tummy troubles, and more. If someone has a full-blown allergy to cow's milk, though, we recommend seeing your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Goat milk is also nutrient-dense and a source of valuable protein, so if you're looking for a nutrient-dense source, goat milk may be a great alternative if you're sensitive to cow's milk but still want an abundance of healthy benefits.
Anything I should know before I make the switch?
If you're considering the switch to goat milk either for yourself or your child, there are several things you should consider. Goat milk tends to get a bad rep for its taste as people assume it tastes strong and similar to goat cheese. However, when goat milk is produced fresh in a facility with high quality standards, it has a mild, sweet, and clean taste that people love—so don't let taste deter you!
If you're looking to switch your toddler specifically to goat milk, make sure it's enriched—three potential nutritional deficiencies found in otherwise healthy children may include iron, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. Choosing non-GMO, high quality goat milk is always best. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about any feeding changes and foods that will best meet your toddler's daily nutrition needs.