The World's Healthiest Foods
Milk, goat

Delicious with a slightly sweet and sometimes salty undertone, goat’s milk is the milk of choice in most of the world. Although not popular in the United States, it can be found in markets and health foods stores throughout the year.

Unlike cow’s milk there is no need to homogenize goat’s milk. While the fat globules in cow’s milk tend to separate to the surface, the globules in goat’s milk are much smaller and will remain suspended in solution. When individuals have sensitivity to cow’s milk, goat’s milk can sometimes be used as an alternative.

 


Health Benefits

Goat’s milk is a very good source of calcium and a good source of protein, phosphorous, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and potassium. Perhaps the greatest benefit of goat’s milk, however, is that some people who cannot tolerate cow’s milk are able to drink goat’s milk without any problems. Allergy to cow’s milk has been found in many people with conditions such as recurrent ear infections, asthma, eczema, and even rheumatoid arthritis. Replacing cow’s milk with goat’s milk may help to reduce some of the symptoms of these conditions.

Goat’s milk can sometimes even be used as a replacement for cow’s milk-based infant formulas for infants who have difficulties with dairy products. Unfortunately, goat’s milk is lacking in several nutrients that are necessary for growing infants, so parents interested in trying goat’s milk instead of cow's milk-based formula for their infants should ask their pediatricians or other qualified healthcare practitioners for recipes and ways to add these important and vital nutrients. For older children and adults, however, goat’s milk can be an excellent calcium-rich alternative to cow's milk as, in addition to calcium, it contains many of the same nutrients found in cow's milk.

Calcium--A Mineral for A Lot More than Strong Bones

Goat's milk is a very good source of calcium. Calcium is widely recognized for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. In a process known as bone mineralization, calcium and phosphorous join to form calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is a major component of the mineral complex (called hydroxyapatite) that gives structure and strength to bones. A cup of goat's milk supplies 32.6% of the daily value for calcium along with 27.0% of the DV for phosphorus. In comparison, a cup of cow's milk provides 29.7% of the DV for calcium and 23.2% of the DV for phosphorus.

Building bone is, however, far from all that calcium does for us. In recent studies, this important mineral has been shown to:

  • Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals
  • Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them
  • Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle

Calcium also plays a role in many other vital physiological activities, including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity, cell membrane function and blood pressure regulation. Because these activities are essential to life, the body utilizes complex regulatory systems to tightly control the amount of calcium in the blood, so that sufficient calcium is always available. As a result, when dietary intake of calcium is too low to maintain adequate blood levels of calcium, calcium stores are drawn out of the bones to maintain normal blood concentrations.

Energy Producing Riboflavin

Goat's milk is a very good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin important for energy production. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) plays at least two important roles in the body's energy production. When active in energy production pathways, riboflavin takes the form of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or flavin mononucleotide (FMN). In these forms, riboflavin attaches to protein enzymes called flavoproteins that allow oxygen-based energy production to occur. Flavoproteins are found throughout the body, particularly in locations where oxygen-based energy production is constantly needed, such as the heart and other muscles.

Riboflavin's other role in energy production is protective. The oxygen-containing molecules the body uses to produce energy can be highly reactive and can inadvertently cause damage to the mitochondria (the energy production factories in every cell) and even the cells themselves. In the mitochondria, such damage is largely prevented by a small, protein-like molecule called glutathione. Like many "antioxidant" molecules, glutathione must be constantly recycled, and it is vitamin B2 that allows this recycling to take place. (Technically, vitamin B2 is a cofactor for the enzyme glutathione reductase that reduces the oxidized form of glutathione back to its reduced version.) Riboflavin been shown to be able to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches in people who suffer from them.

One cup of goat's milk supplies 20.0% of the daily value for riboflavin, comparable to the 23.5% of the DV for riboflavin provided in a cup of cow's milk.

A Good Source of Protein

Goat's milk is a good source of low-cost high-quality protein, providing 8.7 grams of protein (17.4% of the daily value for protein) in one cup versus cow's milk, which provides 8.1 grams or 16.3% of the DV for protein. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein. We rely on animal and vegetable protein for our supply of amino acids, and then our bodies rearrange the nitrogen to create the pattern of amino acids we require.

Cardiovascular Protection from Potassium

Goat's milk is a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since a cup of goat's milk contains 498.7 mg of potassium and only 121.5 mg of sodium, goat's milk may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.

The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies. For example, researchers tracked over 40,000 American male health professionals over four years to determine the effects of diet on blood pressure. Men who ate diets higher in potassium-rich foods had a substantially reduced risk of stroke. A cup of goat's milk provides 14.2% of the daily value for potassium.

Description

While in the United States, we may think of goat’s milk as a beverage alternative to cow’s milk, in most areas of the world, the opposite is true. Worldwide, more people drink goat’s milk than cow’s milk.

Most people assume goat’s milk will have the same strong musky taste for which goat cheese is famous. Yet, in fact, good quality goat’s milk has a delicious slightly sweet, and sometimes also slightly salty, taste.

The scientific name for goat is Capra hircus.

History

Goats have played a role in food culture since time immemorial with ancient cave paintings showing the hunting of goats. They are also one of the oldest domesticated animals since the herding of goats is thought to have evolved about 10,000 years ago in the mountains of Iran.

Goat milk and the cheese made from it were revered in ancient Egypt with some pharaohs supposedly having these foods placed among the other treasures in their burial chambers. Goat milk was also widely consumed by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Goat milk has remained popular throughout history and still is consumed on a more extensive basis worldwide than cow’s milk.

How to Select and Store

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Next time you want a glass of milk, try goat’s milk instead.

Goat’s milk yogurt makes a wonderful base for savory dips. Simply mix in your favorite herbs and spices and serve with crudité.

Crumble some goat’s cheese on a salad of romaine lettuce, pears and pumpkin seeds.

Crumbled goat cheese is a wonderful rich topping for split pea soup.

Add extra taste and protein to a vegetable sandwich by including some goat’s cheese.

Soft, spreadable goat cheese is an exceptional accompaniment to crusty whole grain bread or crackers and fruit.

Top sliced tomatoes with crumpled goat cheese and fresh basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Safety

Goat's milk is not a commonly allergenic food, is not included in the list of 20 foods that most frequently contain pesticide residues, and is also not known to contain goitrogens, oxalates, or purines. However, goat's milk, like cow's milk, does contain the milk sugar, lactose, and may produce adverse reactions in lactose-intolerant individuals. (Goat's milk is only slightly lower in lactose than cow's milk, with 4.1% milk solids as lactose versus 4.7% in cow's milk.)

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. For more detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System, please click here.

 

Milk, Goat
1.00 cup
167.90 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
tryptophan 0.11 g 34.4 3.7 very good
calcium 325.74 mg 32.6 3.5 very good
phosphorus 270.11 mg 27.0 2.9 good
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.34 mg 20.0 2.1 good
protein 8.69 g 17.4 1.9 good
potassium 498.74 mg 14.2 1.5 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

References

  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Hajjar IM, Grim CE, Kotchen TA. Dietary calcium lowers the age-related rise in blood pressure in the United States: the NHANES III survey. J Clin Hypertens 2003 Mar-2003 Apr 30; 5(2):122-6.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

This page was updated on: 2004-11-20 17:27:40
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation