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Ask the Experts

Goat's Milk and Cow's Milk: A Faceoff

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: How does goat’s milk compare to cow’s milk?

A: Advocates of goat’s milk claim that it is superior in many ways to cow’s milk. But nutritional differences between the two milks, if any, tend to be minor, according to USDA data. Goat’s milk is a little higher in calcium (325 milligrams per cup, versus 290 in cow’s milk), as well as protein and fat. It’s also higher in potassium, niacin, and vitamin A, but lower in vitamin B12, folate, and selenium. Neither cow’s nor goat’s milk is a particularly good source of many of these nutrients, anyway, and there’s no nutritional advantage to drinking one over the other. Both milks are commercially fortified with vitamin D.

Some people claim that goat’s milk is less allergenic because of the structure of its proteins. But studies indicate that children who are allergic to cow’s milk proteins are also likely to be allergic to goat’s milk proteins. It’s further claimed that because of its smaller fat globules (“naturally homogenized”), goat’s milk is more easily digested. But homogenization reduces the size of the fat globules in cow’s milk, too.

Moreover, goat’s milk contains nearly as much lactose (milk sugar) as cow’s milk, so if you’re lactose-intolerant, goat’s milk is not the answer.

Two drawbacks of goat’s milk: Low-fat (and thus lower-calorie) versions are hard to find, and it often isn’t pasteurized. For safety, make sure any milk you drink is pasteurized.

Also see Healthy Alternatives to Cow’s Milk.