Raw goat's milk is a popular dairy product often touted as a health food. Goat's milk offers numerous benefits and is believed by many nutritionists to be safer, healthier and more sustainable than milk sourced from cattle. The human consumption of raw goat's milk remains controversial. While some people believe that raw milk is healthier, others believe that its nutritional benefits are outweighed by the risks associated with milk that has not been pasteurized to remove pathogens.
Comparison to Cow's Milk
Goat's milk and cow's milk are very different in their nutritional composition, health benefits, and production. Unlike cow's milk, goat's milk does not require homogenization, since the fats in goat's milk are found in smaller particles that remain suspended without rising to the top.
Additionally, many people with allergies to cow's milk find goat's milk easier to digest and less causative of allergy-related conditions like eczema, inflammation and chronic bowel disease. Many of the allergenic proteins found in cow's milk are absent from goat's milk or present in much lower quantities.
History and Cultural Significance
Worldwide, raw goat's milk is consumed far more than any form of cow's milk. In many low-tech cultures, raw goat's milk is considered to be more practical than any other form of milk, since it does not require homogenization. Because of its excellent nutritional profile, it is an especially important staple food for people in low-income areas. Ir requires less land and energy to produce than cow's milk.
Historically, raw goat's milk has played a key role in many cultures throughout the world. In ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, goat's milk was revered as a valuable source of nutrition, and it remains a staple food to this day. Goat's milk cheeses and raw goat's milk are still important aspects of many countries' native culinary styles.
Safety vs. Risk
Some farmers and consumers believe that goat's milk is healthier when consumed raw, though the FDA warns that unpasteurized milk can harbor deadly diseases. Milk "straight from the goat", like human milk, is a living product containing antibacterial cells, probiotics and functional enzymes. Some of milk's nutritional properties may be destroyed during pasteurization.
Still, according to the majority of food-safety experts, all milk should be thoroughly treated prior to consumption. Many seemingly-healthy goats are actually carriers of deadly human-transmissible diseases, and the chemical composition of goat's milk is favorable for the growth of pathogens. People who are very young, very old, pregnant or immunosuppressed are at the highest risk of contracting illnesses through raw goat's milk.
Culinary Use and Flavor
While many people expect raw goat's milk to have the pungent flavor associated with goat cheese, fresh goat's milk is actually very light and sweet compared to cow's milk. It has a sweet, creamy and lightly salty taste, and many people find the flavor preferable to cow's milk for culinary use.
Goat's milk is popular for use in cheeses, but many people also use it in cereals and daily meals. Goat's milk can add a healthy, nutritional punch-- as well as a delightfully sweet flavor-- to many recipes. Its flavor is especially appealing in casseroles, desserts and yogurts.
Overall, raw goat's milk has less fat and more vitamins and minerals than raw cow's milk, and it is usually easier to digest. Goat's milk is an excellent source of calcium, a mineral that is essential for healthy bones, teeth, hormonal balance and cancer prevention.
Goat's milk is also a good source of protein. Goat whey and casein are easy for the body to absorb, and they provide a healthy balance of essential amino acids. Additionally, goat's milk provides ribflavin, an antioxidant B-vitamin that is essential to energy production, and phosphorus, which binds with calcium to enable the structuring of strong bone's and teeth.