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Goat milk and goat milk products are such ideal ingredients for countless nutritional whole foods.
On the third Sunday of every June, people across the globe celebrate fathers. It is a day for honoring dads, commemorating fatherhood, and celebrating paternal bonds. On Father’s Day this June 19, let’s remember a certain “father” from our past-our very distant past. This legendary patriarch is Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine who lived over 2400 years ago. Now, when a man has been deemed the “father” of an entire hemisphere, it would be wise to listen to what he has to say. Here are the words of Hippocrates: “If you want to be well, get a goat and live on the south side of the mountain.” Hippocrates may have been able to see the incredible effect that goat milk has on the human body. However, it doesn’t take a logistics genius to know that getting your own goat and living on the south side of a mountain probably isn’t going to work for most people today. This is precisely why goat milk and goat milk products are such ideal ingredients for countless nutritional whole foods.
Goat milk can be broken down into several different beneficial constituents. Picture a 12-oz glass of goat milk. Approximately 10 of those ounces would be merely water. However, 12 g would be a combination of the powerful muscle-builder whey protein and muscle-sustainer casein protein.(1)
Also found in this glass of milk would be 14 g of cream, also known as fat. Fat is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the cream of goat milk is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid. Omega-3s have shown numerous health benefits, including aiding those with diabetes and boosting cardiovascular health.(2)
Furthermore, 2.8 g of this glass of milk is made of minerals. This number might sound small, but in the mineral world where things are measured in milligrams and micrograms, 2.8 g actually makes goat milk a mineral powerhouse. Goat milk is packed with both macro and trace minerals such as potassium, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, and even sodium-more later on why that is actually a good thing.
Protein is the substance that makes up virtually every aspect of the human body. Many organs, such as the brain, heart, lungs, muscle, liver, and skin, are made almost entirely of protein. In fact, there are around 200,000 different protein sequences throughout the body. Needless to say, protein is nothing less than essential for all aspects of life.
An important concept to note, however, is that not all proteins are created equal. Far from it. In fact, an entire ratings system has been created to categorize the biological value (BV) of the protein in different substances. For example, the BV of egg protein, considered to be a “perfect” protein, is 100. Other proteins like beef, soy, and wheat rank 80, 70, and 50, respectively. This means that the protein in an egg is almost completely utilized by the body, while the protein in beef, soy, and wheat is utilized to a much lesser degree. To give this some perspective, a leather boot is actually quite high in protein, but the biological value of this protein is very low, meaning that virtually none of it can actually be utilized or assimilated by the digestive tract.
So what does this have to do with goat milk protein? The protein found in goat milk is casein and whey protein. Both proteins register extremely high on the BV scale. In fact, while casein is a high 94, whey protein actually registers “off the chart” at 104. This means that this protein is highly digestible and absorbable.
One of the most wonderful characteristics of goat milk protein is its digestibility. When ingested, the protein forms a very soft bolus (ball) that is digested with ease by the stomach and small intestine.(3) Contrast this with the rock-like curd formed by cow’s milk protein, and it is not hard to see the benefit to your digestive tract that comes from goat milk protein.
Additionally, goat milk protein is virtually allergy free. Such is not the case with cow’s milk protein, which has roughly 20 different allergens,(4) all of which can be targeted by the body as foreign invaders and cause both mild and severe allergic reactions. One particular allergen, alpha s1 casein, is found in large amounts in cow’s milk and can cause all manner of side effects ranging from hives and diarrhea to anaphylactic shock. Goat milk doesn’t contain these allergens and is a perfect option for those seeking alternatives to mainstream supplements.
Goat milk is often viewed as being a good source of calcium but not much else when it comes to minerals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In all actuality, goat milk is an elixir literally brimming with over 20 different bioactive minerals. (Bioactive refers to the fact that minerals from a food source are biologically active nutrients. This may be different from those that have been dug out of the ground or synthesized in a laboratory.) Food-based minerals are key in nutrition. When the minerals in goat milk are carefully extracted and dried, the resulting concentrated mineral powder is teeming with bioactive potassium, magnesium, calcium, and even sodium.
Bioactive sodium is vital for life. This sodium, found in goat milk, is a crucial mineral, enabling healthy cell performance, proper neurological function, and a host of other systems and processes. Consider the relationship sodium has with amino acids, and its importance becomes quite clear. Amino acids (building blocks of protein) can only be absorbed through the small intestine via a sodium-dependent transport system. Without sodium binding to a carrier, certain amino acids cannot be absorbed. The concentrated minerals in goat milk can help in proper amino acid absorption.
Potassium is another key mineral that is involved in a multitude of systemic roles such as cellular and electrical function. Potassium helps regulate acid-base balance as well as water-hydration levels. Potassium deficiency is quite common, and symptoms can manifest as fatigue, depression, hypertension, and muscle weakness. Potassium is found in a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, most Americans do not eat enough of these and suffer the consequences. Potassium is the number one mineral found in goat milk. In fact, only 2 tablespoons of this concentrated mineral powder may contain over 10 times the potassium found in the supplements lining store shelves.(5)
Lastly, the incredible mineral levels in goat milk make for a highly alkaline food. This helps keep the intestinal tract from becoming overly acidic.(6)
While the debate rages on about the dangers of too much fat in the diet, remember that fat is the key to life. Fat is critical in absorbing and storing vitamins, regulating natural hormone levels, and protecting internal organs. Nutritionally, things can become unhealthy when one eats too much fat or the wrong kind.
Conveniently, goat milk cream is high in medium-chain fatty acids as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are helpful in fighting diabetes and boosting cardiovascular health.(7) Another beneficial use of goat milk cream is in soaps, lotion, and shampoo, as its properties are especially helpful in maintaining skin and hair health. Keep in mind that these fatty acids are volatile and will spoil quickly if not dried and preserved properly, so pick a reputable company known for low processing techniques.
It may come as a surprise to some readers to learn of the wonderful attributes that goat milk and goat milk products have to offer. The protein found in goat milk is of the highest quality and digestibility. The bioactive minerals deliver alkalizing and fortifying effects to the body. Even the fat has tremendously healthy characteristics. Goat milk truly is one of nature’s perfect foods. So this Father’s Day, remember the (paraphrased) advice of Hippocrates: “If you want to be well, eat goat milk products and get plenty of sunshine.”
1. Y Boirie et al., “Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, vol. 94, no. 26 (December 23, 1997): 14930–14935.
2. I Thorsdottir et al., “Omega-3 fatty acid supply from milk associates with lower type 2 diabetes in men and coronary heart disease in women,” Preventative Medicine, vol. 39, no. 3 (September 2004): 630-634.
3. G Haenlein, “Goat milk in human nutrition,” Small Ruminant Research, vol. 51 (2004): 155–163
4. E El-Agamy, “The challenge of cow milk protein allergy,” Small Ruminant Research, vol. 68, no. 1 (March 2007): 64-72.
5. 2 tablespoons of concentrated goat milk minerals contains over 1000 mg of potassium while potassium supplements lining store shelves are, by law, not allowed to contain more than 99 mg potassium per serving. This “pill form” of potassium is not food based either and therefore not truly bio-active.
6. YW Park, “Relative buffering capacity of goat milk, cow milk, soy-based infant formulas, and commercial nonprescription antacid drugs,” Journal of Dairy Science, vol. 74, no. 10 (October 1991): 3326-3333.
7. I Thorsdottir et al., “Omega-3 fatty acid supply from milk associates with lower type 2 diabetes in men and coronary heart disease in women,” Preventative Medicine, vol. 39, no. 3 (September 2004): 630-634