Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk

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A boy holding a tall glass of milk.
A boy holding a tall glass of milk. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Goat's milk, like other cow's milk alternatives, is growing in popularity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Switching from cow's milk to goat's requires some planning and consideration, though, because they have slightly different nutritional profiles.

Counting Calories

Goat's milk is a more concentrated source of calories than cow's milk, even when compared to whole cow's milk. One cup of goat's milk has 168 calories, while the same serving of whole cow's milk has 149 calories and nonfat cow's milk has 83 calories.

If you decide that goat's milk makes a better fit in your diet, note the calorie differences and make adjustments in your eating plan to balance your intake.

Comparing Fat Content

Part of the reason goat's milk is higher in calories than cow's milk is because of its fat content. Unlike cow's milk, lowfat and nonfat versions of goat's milk aren't widely available.

One cup of goat's milk has 10 grams of total fat and 6.5 grams of saturated fat. By comparison, the same serving of whole cow's milk has 8 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat, while nonfat cow's milk is fat free.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends you include mostly lowfat or nonfat dairy foods in your diet. Goat's milk and whole cow's milk are high in saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet increases LDL cholesterol levels, and the dietary guidelines suggest you limit your intake to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake for heart health.

About Carbs and Protein

There are slight differences in carb and protein content between goat's milk and cow's milk. A 1-cup serving of goat's milk contains 11 grams of carbs and 9 grams of protein, while the same serving of cow's milk -- either whole or nonfat -- contains 12 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein.

The protein composition in goat's milk is very similar to cow's milk and isn't a good substitute if you're looking to replace cow's milk due to an allergy, according to Food Allergy Research and Education.

The carbohydrate in goat and cow's milk is in the form of lactose. Goat's milk contains less lactose than cow's milk, according to MedlinePlus, and if you're lactose intolerant you may be able to tolerate goat's milk better than cow's milk.

Bone-Building Nutrition

When it comes to bone-building nutrition, goat's milk and cow's milk run neck and neck. One cup of goat's milk meets 33 percent of the daily value for calcium and 21 percent of the daily value for vitamin D. The same serving of cow's milk meets 28 percent to 30 percent of the daily value for calcium and 20 percent to 21 percent of the daily value for vitamin D.

Other Nutrients

Goat's milk and cow's milk both are a good source of vitamin A, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium, meeting more than 10 percent of the daily value per cup. But cow's milk beats goat's milk as a source of vitamin B-12 and selenium, meeting more than 10 percent of the daily value for both. Vitamin B-12 assists in the formation of red blood cells, and selenium, as an antioxidant, protects your cells against free radicals.

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