Benefits goat milk

Benefits of goat milk compared with cow milk

Understanding goat milk powder

The features of goat milk give rise to a number of potential benefits, when compared with cow milk such as:

  • A lower amount of αs₁-casein.
  • The same total quantity of essential amino acids.
  • A higher content of medium-chain fatty acids (C6-14).
  • More conjugated linoleic acid.
  • Greater quantities of Ca, P, Mg and Cu.
  • Higher levels of taurine than cow milk.
  • Animal study shows that with goat milk nutrition better use is made of nutrients in the milk than the nutrients from cow milk.
  • In particular, the utilization of nitrogen from goat milk proteins is greater than from cow milk proteins.

Source: Ceballos et al, 2009

 

Protein Digestion – I

  • The digestion of goat milk proteins is nearly a third faster compared to cow milk proteins.
  • Three times more beta-lactoglobulin from goat milk is digested compared to the same protein from cow milk.
  • Casein fractions of the goat milk differs from cow milk as it has a higher level of ß-casein and a lower level of αs₁-casein, making the casein profile of goat milk closer to breast milk. Lower level of αs₁-casein produces a softer curd which makes the proteins easier to digest.

Source: In vitro studies by Almaas et al, 2006
Pintado & Malcata, 2000

 

Protein Digestion – II

  • Coagulated goat milk, to form cheese, is softer and more fragile than cheese made from cow milk.
  • Casein micelles of goat milk are one and half times larger than casein micelles from cow milk. This would be enough to explain the loose, more fragile casein curd structure of goat milk.
  • For example, in infant foods, when in the baby’s stomach, this soft curd is digested more rapidly.

Source: Park, 2007

 

GABA

GABA (ƴ-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter, is present in high concentrations in goat milk. GABA has diverse physiologic effects, such as modulation of blood pressure, immune function, insulin sensitivity and stress. Recent study has shown that it has a positive effect to the reduction of abdominal pain.

Source: Limon et al, 2014

 

Fat digestion from goat milk

  • In a double-blinded randomized study of 64 infants, there was a 5% greater absorption of fat from the goat milk diet.
  • The infants in the study had digestive disorders and suffered from fat mal-absorption due to gluten deficiency. One group was randomized to a diet containing goat milk and butter and the other to cow milk and butter.

Source: Hachelaaf et al, 1993

 

Medium Chain Triglycerides

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are particularly abundant in goat milk. MCTs are quickly taken up by the body thereby providing energy rapidly.

Source: Rial et al, 2016

 

Oligosaccharides

  • As per one study, goat milk contains between 250 to 300mg/L oligosaccharides (Source: Martinez-Ferez et al, 2006), which is lower than what is present in human milk, but 4-5 times higher than the content in cow milk.
  • In a new study published in 2013 (source: Meyrand et al), goat milk samples were found to contain 1.17g/L, which is nearly 4 fold higher levels than these earlier measurements.
  • Although the amount of oligosaccharides measured in goat milk is still lower than the amount in human milk, the oligosaccharides found in goat milk shared similar structural elements critical to the bio activity of human milk oligosaccharides.

 

Goat milk better than cow milk? – Non Protein Nitrogen

  • Goat milk infant formula contains 10% non-protein nitrogen, expressed as a proportion of total nitrogen, compared with 7.1% for cow milk formula.
  • Goat follow-on formula contains 9.3% and cow 7.4% non-protein nitrogen.
  • Non protein nitrogen consist of nucleotides and nucleosides, urea, creatinine, polyamines and free amino acids.
  • Goat milk infant formula contains 4mg/100ml total nucleotide monophosphates, all derived from the goat milk itself.
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides are major components of RNA and DNA. Due to their role in development of the immune system, nucleotides are often added to infant formula.
  • Goat milk, in contrast of cow milk, contains the highest concentration of polyamines.
    Polyamines are important for optimal growth, gastro intestinal tract cell function, maturation of gastro intestinal tract enzymes and reducing of food allergy in infants.
  • Urea, at 30%, is quantitatively the most abundant component of the protein nitrogen fraction of goat milk and formulae, followed by free amino acids at 7%.
  • Taurine, glycine and glutamic acids are the most abundant free amino acids in goat milk powders.

Goat milk has a very different profile of the non-protein fraction to cow milk, with several constituents such as nucleotides at concentrations approaching those in human breast milk.

Source: Composition of the non-protein nitrogen fraction of goat whole milk powder and goat milk based infant and follow-on formulae. Prosser et al, 2008

 

Adult Nutrition

The following properties of goat milk are suitable for application in adult nutrition:

  • Easy digestibility of goat protein.
  • Better bio-availability of protein (i.e. more lactoglobulin digested).
  • Easy digestibility of goat milk (i.e. as a whole).
  • Higher oligosaccharide content.

 

Infant / Toddler Nutrition

The use of goat milk infant formula has been investigated in several studies. Although the indicative proof exists that goat infant formula is better than cow infant formula, it’s the conclusion of the EFSA that feeding infants with goat milk formula compared to cow milk formula did not yield any different growth outcomes in weight, length and head circumference. The EFSA has incorporated in recent legislation that protein from goat milk can be suitable  as a protein source for infant.

Source: EFSA Journal 2012; 10(3):2603

The following properties of goat milk are suitable for application in infant/toddler nutrition:

  • Higher oligosaccharide content.
  • Better bio-availability of micronutrients.
  • Better bio-availability of protein (i.e. more lactoglobulin digested).
  • Easy digestibility of goat protein.
  • Easy digestibility of goat milk (i.e. as a whole).