Helen BondConsultant Dietitian

Helen Bond

BSc. (Hons) SRD, MBDA | Consultant Dietitian to St Helen's Farm

Helen Bond is one of the leading dietitians in the UK and she is a professional consultant to St Helen's Farm on the benefits of including goats' milk in your diet.

As a State Registered Dietitian, Helen operates her own practice in Derbyshire and is also a mother to three young children. Her clinical specialities include digestive problems, heart and bone health and weight management as well as food allergy and intolerance.

Health and wellbeing are important to all of us. Making a simple swap to your daily diet can make a real difference to your overall health.

The difference between cow and goats milk

More of us are becoming increasingly aware that cow’s milk may not suit us and have started to seek an alternative that is better suited to the needs of our body1. Goats' milk is nutritionally closest to cows' milk than other alternatives2 and yet it has certain physical properties that set it apart. Many people who perceive they have issues with cows' milk can drink goats' milk without any problems, and even say that their symptoms (such as eczema; asthma; bloatedness; constipation; digestive discomfort and catarrh) are reduced or go away altogether. More comprehensive scientific research is needed to confirm these anecdotal benefits but there are a number of studies that have focused on the differences between the two milks2,3,4,5,6

Reasons to consider Goats' Milk

1. Less allergenic proteins

Protein is essential for growth, development and repair of the body7,8,9. However, research indicates that peoples' intolerance of cows' milk is often due to the proteins5; in particular Aplha-S1-casein. Goats' milk has less of this protein than most cows’ milk2 which is one of the reasons it may be better tolerated by some people*.

Importantly, goats’ milk is not recommended for anyone who has been diagnosed with a cows’ milk allergy. Some of the proteins in goats' milk are sufficiently similar to those found in cows' milk and may cause cross-reactivity. Take advice from an allergy consultant or allergy specialist dietitian.

 

2. Easily digestible fats and proteins

Whilst the fat content of goats' milk is similar to cows' milk (3.6% for whole, 1.6% for semi-skimmed and almost zero for skimmed), the fat globules are naturally much smaller in size and this may make it easier to digest2. The protein composition of goats’ milk allows it to form a softer curd during digestion which may assist with your digestive health and comfort.

3. Lower in Lactose

Goats’ milk is not recommended for anyone who has been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. However, goats' milk typically contains slightly less lactose than cows' milk13 and the amount of lactose people can tolerate varies14,15. This, together with goats' milks’ easier digestibility, may help to explain why some people with lactose intolerance are able to enjoy goats' milk without any repercussions. Consult your GP or a health professional before making changes to your diet.

Other Benefits

" Goats' milk is highly nutritious, contains essential vitamins and minerals and is an ideal food for the whole family to enjoy. Mild and smooth tasting it is drunk by more people around the world than cows' milk and is already a key healthy fridge essential for thousands of people in the UK. So why not join them and Give Goats a Go? "

4. Plenty of calcium

3 servings of goats’ milk products provide more than 100% of an adult's recommended daily amount of calcium16. Calcium is essential for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth, to help against the onset of osteoporosis and may also aid weight control by helping breakdown body fat as part of a calorie controlled diet17,18,19,20.

6. Blood pressure friendly

Dairy products like goats' milk and yogurt are rich in calcium, a mineral indicated as important in lowering our blood pressure21. Choose the low fat options if you’re concerned about blood pressure.

8. A good source of key vitamins

One (250ml) serving of goats' milk provides 17% of the RDA for vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), which is needed for the release of energy from food13,16,and 15% of the recommended daily amount of biotin (a B-vitamin which is important for a healthy nervous system13,16). Goats' milk is richer than cows' milk in the fat soluble vitamin D, which is needed to help calcium absorption and for healthy bones and teeth13.

5. Naturally lower in cholesterol

Goats' milk is naturally slightly lower in cholesterol than cows' milk13 and the skimmed and semi-skimmed options make it a good alternative for people who are watching their cholesterol or saturated fat intake.

7. Other Essential Minerals

One (250ml) serving of goats' milk delivers over one third of your recommended daily amount of phosphorus13,23 (which helps build strong bones and teeth and to release energy from food24,25), and more than meets your daily iodine needs (which helps keep our thyroid and metabolic rate healthy)26 and provides 425mg of potassium13 (involved in maintaining a healthy blood pressure by helping to blunt the effects of sodium27).

9. Prebiotic

Goats' milk has more oligosaccharides than cows' milk, with an amount similar to human milk. These act as prebiotics in the gut and may help to maintain the health of the digestive tract by encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria22.

References

1. Mintel (2010) Milk and Cream UK – May 2010 (online)

2. Tomotake H, Okuyama R, Katagiri M, Fuzita M, Yamato M, Ota F. Comparison between Holstein cow's milk and Japanese-Saanen goat's milk in fatty acid composition, lipid digestibility and protein profile. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2006; 70:2771-2774.

3. Alferez MJ, Barrionuevo M, Aliaga IL, Sanz-Sampelayo MR, Lisbona F, Robles JC, Campos MS. Digestive utilisation of goat and cow's milk fat in malabsorption syndrome. J Dairy Res 2001; 68:451-461.

4. Alonso L, Fontecha J, Lozada L, Fraga MJ, Juárez M. Fatty acid composition of caprine milk; major, branched-chain, and trans fatty acids. J Dairy Sci 1999; 82:878-84.

5. El-Agamy El. The challenge of cow's milk protein allergy. Small Rum Res 2007: 6864-72.

6. Lara-Villoslada F, Debras E, Nieto N, Concha A, Galvez J, Lopex-Huertas E, Boza J, Obled C, Xaus J. Oligosaccharides isolated from goat's milk reduced intestinal inflammation in a rat model of dextran sodium sulphate-induced colitis. Clin Nutr 2006; 25:477-488.

7. NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx. Accessed 24/06/2013

8. Manuel of Dietetic Practice Third Edition, (Briony Thomas, editor) Blackwell Science, London, UK.

9. Department of Health (1991) Report on health and social subjects 41. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. The Stationery Office: London.

10. Alessandro Fiocchi, (Chair), Jan Brozek, Holger Schünemann, (Chair)et al. April 2010. World Allergy Organization (WAO) Diagnosis and Rationale for Action against Cow’s Milk Allergy (DRACMA) Guidelines. WAO Journal.

11. Allergy UK. http://www.allergyuk.org/.

12. Lactose intolerance_NHS Choices www.nhs.uk/conditions/Lactose-intolerance/Pages?introduction.aspx Accessed 26/06/2012

13. Food Standards Agency. McCance and Widdowson's. The Composition of Foods. Sixth Summary Edition Cambridge. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2002.

14. McBean LD, Miller GD. Allaying fears and fallacies about lactose intolerance. J Am Diet Assoc 1998; 98:671-76.

15. Pribila BA, Hertzler SR, Martin BR, Weaver BM, Savaiano DA. Improved lactose digestion and intolerance among African – American adolescent girls fed a dairy-rich diet. J Am Diet Assoc 2000; 100:524-28.

16. Directive 2008/100/EC on Nutrition Labelling.

17. Zemel MB, Richards J, Russel J, Milstead A, Gehardt L, Silva E. Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects. International Journal of Obesity. 2005; 29(4): 341-7.

18. Poddar KH, Hosig KW, Nickols-Richardson SM, Anderson ES, Herbert WG, Duncan SE. Low-fat dairy intake and body weight and composition changes in college students. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109(8): 1433-8.

19. Barba G et al(2005) Inverse association between body mass and frequency of milk consumption in children. Br J Nutr 93; 15-9.

20. Zemel MB et al (2005) Effects of calcium and dairy on body composition and weight loss in African-American adults. Obesity Research 13; 1218-1225.

21. Sacks FM, Svetkey LP, Vollmer WM et al. Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet. New England Journal of Medicine 2001; 344: 3-10.

22. Lara-Villoslada F, Debras E, Nieto N, Concha A, Galvez J, Lopex-Huertas E, Boza J, Obled C, Xaus J. Oligosaccahrides isolated from goats' milk reduced intestinalo inflammation in a rat model of dextran sodium sulphate-induced colitis. Clin Nutr 2006; 25:477-488.

23. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the UK. Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. HMSO (London, 1991).

24. NHS Choices - http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Other-vitamins-minerals.aspx 

25. British Nutrition Foundation http://www.nutrition.org.uk. Accessed 24/06/2013. 

26. Reference: Retail survey of iodine in UK produced dairy foods. Monday 16 June 2008. Food Survey Information Sheet 02/08. ://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120206100416/http:/food.gov.uk/science/surveillance/fsisbranch2008/fsis0208

27. Young DB, Lin H, McCabe RD, Potassium's Cardiovascular protective mechanisms. American Journal of Physiology 1995; 268: R825-37.