Medically reviewed by Karina Tolentino, RD
Goat milk is not all that common in the United States, but other countries—like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey—produce and drink plenty of goat milk. It can be used just like any other milk, and its nutrient composition is most similar to cow’s milk; they’re both rich in protein, fat, calcium, and vitamin D. However, research shows goat milk may be better for heart health and digestion than cow’s milk.
May Protect Heart Health
Having high cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and goat milk appears to be more beneficial for your cholesterol than cow’s milk.
Studies have found consuming goat milk rather than cow’s milk leads to increased excretion of cholesterol, as opposed to having it stay in the blood. This means goat milk may help reduce cholesterol compared to drinking cow’s milk.
Having high blood pressure also increases your risk of heart disease, and goat milk may help lower your blood pressure, too. The type of casein in goat milk may generate peptides that act like angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors—a medication that helps relax the veins and arteries to lower blood pressure.
Plus, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in goat milk is right around the recommended ratio for preventing heart disease.
Goat milk also contains antioxidants that can prevent oxidative damage to cells from free radicals, which can further protect your heart.
Promotes Bone Health
You may know of cow’s milk as a key source of calcium for bone health, but goat milk is another great option to support your bones. It contains several key nutrients for bone health: calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus.
One cup of goat milk contains 25% of the daily value (DV) for calcium. This mineral helps promote bone density and strength to prevent injury and osteoporosis (a bone disease in which bones become weak and brittle). Plus, vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, and one cup of fortified goat milk has 15% of the DV for vitamin D.
Phosphorus is another essential component of your bones and teeth. One cup of goat milk contains 22% of the DV for this nutrient. Phosphorus is closely related to calcium because they both give your bones and teeth their structure, and they're regulated by the same hormones.
Related: 11 Foods for Strengthening Bones
Is Easier to Digest
People who struggle to digest cow’s milk may tolerate goat milk better.
Goat milk does have lactose and isn’t suitable for people with lactose intolerance. However, it has a higher percentage of short and medium-chain fatty acids than cow’s milk. These kinds of fatty acids are digested more quickly and easily than long-chain fatty acids. Goat milk also contains smaller fat globules than cow’s milk, further increasing its digestibility.
Due to these properties, goat milk may help people with malabsorptive diseases like gallstones, cystic fibrosis, steatorrhea, or intestinal resection to better absorb fats and prevent malnutrition.
As another digestive benefit, goat milk can be a carrier for probiotics that promote a healthy gut microbiome. It also contains oligosaccharides that have prebiotic effects, helping to feed healthy gut bacteria.
Nutrition of Goat Milk
Goat milk has a comparable protein and lactose content to cow’s milk. Just like with cow’s milk, you can get a good amount of calcium and vitamin D from goat’s milk (when choosing a milk product fortified with vitamin D). Each 8-ounce cup of goat milk contains:
Fat: 10 grams (g)
Sodium: 122 milligrams (mg)
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Protein: 9 g
Potassium: 498 g, or 11% of the DV
Phosphorus: 271 mg, or 22% of the DV
Calcium: 327 mg, or 25% of the DV
Vitamin A: 139 micrograms (mcg) RAE, or 15% of the DV
Vitamin D: 3.2 mcg, or 15% of the DV
Goat milk is also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. Getting enough vitamin A is important for eye health, and goat milk has a higher amount than cow’s milk.
The calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus content in goat milk also make it a good food source for supporting bone health.
Risks of Goat Milk
When you go to the milk section of a major grocery store, you’ll find many options: almond, oat, cow, goat, cashew, soy, pea, and more. Each has a different nutrient composition and different health implications.
Goat milk has a similar protein and lactose content to cow's milk. There are slight differences in their unsaturated and saturated fat content and their sodium and potassium concentrations. However, these minimal differences shouldn’t make a big impact on your health.
Compared to non-dairy options like oat milk or almond milk, goat milk is much higher in protein. If you’re looking for a non-dairy milk that’s high in protein, you can try soy or pea protein milk, which are also free from lactose.
When shopping for goat milk, you can often find raw or pasteurized options. Pasteurized milk has been heat-treated to get rid of bacteria. Raw goat milk poses food safety risks because it hasn’t been treated to kill off harmful pathogens. For this reason, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends drinking only pasteurized milk.
If you have a cow’s milk allergy, you’ll also need to be careful about goat milk; over 90% of people who are allergic to cow’s milk protein also react to the protein found in goat milk. A recent study did find that the casein in goat milk, which is different from that found in cow’s milk, may not lead to the same allergic response as cow’s milk. However, it's still important to proceed with caution if you have a milk allergy.
Consuming goat milk also contains lactose, which can cause digestive issues for those with lactose intolerance.
Tips for Consuming Goat Milk
Goat milk can be used similarly to any other milk. Here are some ideas for incorporating goat milk into your diet:
Drink a glass of it plain
Have it with cereal or granola
Add it to your coffee
Have goat milk yogurt as a snack with fruit and granola
Add goat milk to smoothies
Use it to make savory dishes like mashed potatoes, curry, or mac and cheese
Make cajeta—a caramel sauce made with goat milk
A Quick Review
Goat milk is a good source of nutrients for bone health, and it may be better for your cholesterol and blood pressure than cow’s milk. Plus, the types of fats it contains tend to be more easily digested, especially for those with diseases that cause absorption issues. You can enjoy goat milk just like any other milk, so try adding it to your morning coffee or using it to cook with.
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