While cow’s milk is far more common in the United States, goat’s milk is actually a more commonly consumed milk, worldwide. Both cow and goat’s milk offer some impressive health benefits, and a lot of these benefits are similar. However, goat’s milk is lower in lactose, which makes it more digestible for some people, not to mention that it is higher in certain nutrients.
In this article, we’ll dig into the specific benefits offered by goat’s milk (aside from its absolutely delicious taste), how you can incorporate it into your diet, and the best places to buy it.
5 Fun Facts about Goat’s Milk
Before getting into the nutrition info, check out these fun facts about goat’s milk that you probably didn’t know :
- A female dairy goat is called a doe, and a male is called a buck.
- Goats have sensitive stomachs and are usually picky eaters (surprising, considering how much they seem to love everything).
- Goats (along with dogs) were one of the first animals to be tamed and herded by humans, starting around 9,000 years ago.
- While a dairy cow often produces four to nine gallons of milk per day, a goat produces two quarts (a half gallon) to two gallons (this is one reason that cow’s milk is more popular and less expensive).
- 210 breeds of goats exist in the world!
History of Goat’s Milk
The usefulness of goats for their milk has been recognized for centuries, likely long before any sort of recorded history. Goats used to be carried on ships as a source of fresh milk and nutrition, and Greek mythology mentioned baby Zeus drinking milk directly from the teats of the goat nymph, Amalthea.
The first recorded reference to the use of goat’s milk for human consumption dates back to 1661 in South Africa and continues over time and countries through other parts of Africa, Switzerland, England, and beyond.
Today, more and more people in the United States are jumping on the goat’s milk bandwagon, but the countries that still enjoy this nutritious milk more than others include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Pakistan, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, France, Greece, and India (among others – many countries are big producers of goat’s milk).
Goat Milk Nutrition Facts
One cup of goat’s milk offers the following :
- Calories: 168
- Saturated Fat: 6.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 10.9 grams
- Protein: 8.7 grams
- Cholesterol: 26.8 milligrams
- Sugars: 10.9 grams
- Sodium: 122 milligrams
- Calcium: 327 milligrams
- Phosphorous: 271 milligrams
- Magnesium: 34.2 milligrams
- Potassium: 498 milligrams
- Copper: 0.1 milligrams
- Zinc: 0.7 milligrams
- Vitamin A: 483 IU
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 0.3 milligrams
- Vitamin C: 3.2 milligrams
- Vitamin D: 29.3 IU
For a bit of comparison, one cup of cow’s milk contains 146 calories, 7.9 grams of protein, 12.8 grams of carbohydrate, 12.8 grams of sugar and 7.9 grams of fat. Many minerals and vitamins are similar (with slight variations on amounts), but of notable difference is that cow’s milk is much higher in vitamin B12, selenium and riboflavin (vitamin B2), while goat’s is higher in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and offers slightly more protein. 
Goat Milk Health Benefits
While goat’s milk isn’t necessarily a far healthier option than cow’s milk, it does offer some important nutrients in higher values, along with some health benefits that are more beneficial for some people (especially those with lactose intolerance). Here are the top benefits of goat’s milk:
Easier to Digest than Cow’s Milk
Studies show that the fat globules present in goat’s milk are smaller and easier to digest than in cow’s milk.  Goat’s milk is also lower in the milk sugar “lactose” that many people have a hard time digesting (lactose intolerance). For this reason, some individuals who cannot digest cow’s milk can digest goat’s milk, depending on their level of lactose intolerance.
Studies show that cow’s milk can be quite allergenic for many  and, therefore, inflammatory. In fact, it is for this reason that many nutritionists recommend waiting until after one year of age to introduce cow’s milk, as to not damage the gut lining and provoke further allergies (both food and environmental allergies).
Interestingly, the makeup of goat’s milk is much more similar to human breast milk than cow’s milk, and one study found it to be a far less allergenic protein to be introduced to babies after breastfeeding (now, the common first protein is cow’s milk after or during the weaning process). 
High in Vitamin A
Goat’s milk is far higher in vitamin A than cow’s milk (1 cup offering 483 IU versus 249 IU in cow’s milk). That is because goats are more efficient than cows at converting carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for proper bone growth, immune function and plays a key role in healthy vision and prevention of retinal degeneration. 
Boosts the Immune System
Thanks to its fatty acid content and vitamin A and C levels, goat’s milk does a great job at supporting our immune system. Research shows that goat’s milk contains certain bioactive lipids that support the immune system, particularly conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are also important for energy production .
Ways to Use Goat’s Milk
Check out some easy ways to incorporate goat’s milk into your diet!
This is the easiest and most obvious way to incorporate goat’s milk. Some people don’t know that goat’s milk is drinkable just like cow’s milk. If you have a lactose intolerance, start slowly and see how your body reacts.
Make Yogurt (or Buy it)
Goat’s milk makes a rich and creamy yogurt, and you can make it in your own kitchen by checking out this recipe. Or, many health food stores (and sometimes even conventional grocery stores) carry goat’s milk yogurt, just be sure to choose a brand without added sugars.
Enjoy Goat Cheese
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love goat cheese, and it comes in many varieties (there are about 10 common types you’ll find at most stores with a decent cheese selection). Goat cheese is usually soft and creamy, and makes for a perfect spread to a whole grain cracker, bread or alongside veggies. An easy starter recipe that doesn’t require any rennet or special gadgets (just cheesecloth) is this recipe, which can even be cultured with cultured buttermilk!
Use it in Your Smoothie
Goat’s milk as the base of your favorite morning smoothie can be a great way to switch things up. It will add a slightly different (and delicious) taste, and will provide a bit more protein and different nutrients than cow’s milk. Try combining a cup of goat’s milk with a piece of fresh fruit, one tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, a handful of spinach or other green leafy veggie, and a pinch of cinnamon and honey. Blend with ice and enjoy!
Try a Soothing Goat Milk Soap
A lot of people swear by goat’s milk soap for soft and healthy skin. Soap made from goat’s milk is thought to help remove dead skin cells, repair damaged skin tissue (due largely to its vitamin A content), and moisturize dry skin with its unique fat content. Look for a face and/or body soap made with goat’s milk; opting for organic is always your best bet.
Where to Buy Goat’s Milk
The best option of where to buy goat’s milk will be at your local farmer’s market. As with all products (but especially important with milk and other animal products), you’ll know that your goat’s milk comes from a reliable source and that the milk is top quality. If this isn’t a possibility, check with your local health food store, feed store, 4-H office, or look online. If you are after raw milk, Real Milk has an online by-state directory that sometimes includes goat milk. Also, if you have a farm that produces goat milk anywhere nearby, you might be able to contact them directly.
Goat Milk Soup Recipe
Now that we’re into the radiance of summer, impress your guests with this chilled soup made with tomatoes and goat milk yogurt.
- 5 pounds tomatoes, cored
- 6 scallions or 2 onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves (optional)
- A bit of raw honey
- 2 cups goat milk yogurt (plain, not flavored)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, chop your cored tomatoes and put them in a blender along with your scallions, tarragon, parsley, celery, lime or lemon juice, honey, water, and yogurt. Blend everything together.
- While your blender is going, slowly add your olive oil.
- Pour your soup into a big bowl or pot, and add salt/pepper to taste.
- Chill in the refrigerator until cool and season with extra chopped parsley.
Goat’s milk can make a very healthy and tasty addition to your entire family’s diet and can be enjoyed in many forms. It might just be the answer to a healthy milk alternative for those with a minor lactose sensitivity, and it is packed full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein. Buy it at your local farmer’s market if possible. Drink up!